As he likes to tell it, Martin McNulty Crane is the fifth in a long line of Martins in his family, all hailing from Texas. The first was an orphan who taught himself law, became the Attorney General of Texas and fought the KKK. The second was a lieutenant in World War I. The third was an airline pilot who raised his family in Iran. The fourth is a scientist. Our Martin Crane, who now records as Brazos, is on track to become a leading musical light, with a burning creative mind and a searching soul. Originally hailing from Austin, Crane currently resides Brooklyn, where he works part time as art handler, "hanging famous paintings in Park Ave apartments." Brazos gained recognition in 2009 with Crane's self-released debut album, Phosphorescent Blues. His musical path was enlightened by the poetry of feminist and radical, Adrienne Rich. The album was hewn around 'The Observer,' the 1969 Rich poem Crane put to music. From the bouncy, free-formed vocal phrasing of that adaption, the album grew into a hypnotic tour-de-force that combined raw energy and dance rhythms with the subtle intricacies of jazz and folk. "She was one of my heroes," Crane says, "and when she gave me permission to use her poem and said that she was excited to hear the record, it was a huge moment for me." Brazos, in it's original incarnation, went on to open for Grizzly Bear, Shearwater, Vampire Weekend, The National, Iron & Wine, Wye Oak and Bowerbirds, as well as a national tour with local pals, White Denim. Returning home to Austin after a whirlwind of touring and encountering like-minded musical spirits, there was an inevitable come down. "Most of my good friends had moved away from Austin," Crane recalls. "I was working at a phone bank and hanging out in bars a lot. I'd lost touch with the meaningful things." In search of "something new," he packed everything he owned into a 1990 Honda Civic station wagon that he'd had since he was 15 and moved to New York. Rejuvenated, Crane wrote more than 30 songs across a 2-year span, and signed to Dead Oceans. Recorded with new bandmates Spencer Zahn (bass) and Ian Chang (drums), the initial sessions for Brazos' new album, Saltwater, began with three days of basic tracking where Crane's acoustic guitar, Zahn's warm bass lines, and Chang's frenetic, melodic drumming were all recorded live. Then, over several months, Crane added and refined layers of pianos, synths, guitars and production embellishment. The multi-talented Sandro Perri mixed the final arrangements into a quixotic melange that is both understated and startlingly honest. Saltwater was gestated in an atmosphere of listening to "transcendent groove music" Pharaoh Sanders, Can, Harmonia, Fela Kuti, among a cornucopia of others. "Pharaoh Sanders is looking for selflessness and love and peace, and there is no attempt to dress up what he's after," Crane muses. "He is yelling and singing, and it is pure joy. Can is lost in a subconscious world where language interacts with feelings and grooves, kind of like a Cy Twombly painting. Fela is righteous marching music." Brazos' Saltwater touches upon all these elements, with a light and lilting poise and the unique perspective of Crane, who is doing his utmost to struggle with and make sense of his place in the world. "I think this record is about learning how to be alone. And I think that's how it's spiritual. You can't actually love anything if you need it. I think this record is an odyssey out into deep solitude in order to really get a grasp of myself." But don't start thinking Saltwater is a doleful album of introspection it's just the opposite. Like a stunning spring morning, Saltwater is buoyant, expansive pop, with an astonishingly sure hand of craftsmanship. This is no hazy psych mess, but a spacious, beautifully arranged body of work that is the mark of an important artist. Opening track 'Always On' begins mid-synth swirl blast, plunging the listener into a dervish of melody and a frenetic beat. 'Charm' jumps down a notch to a loping, staccato groove and seeing-stars joie-de-vivre. By track three 'How the Ranks Was Won,' the cascades of melodic joy have been translated into a tale about the voyage of a ghost ship and its descendants. Crane says he developed a penchant for New Orleans bounce music at local bounce gigs in Austin not that this is a psych-folk-bounce album, it's not, but the irrepressible energy, emotional urgency and verve that populates Saltwater cannot be denied. On the title track, we find Crane using Ishmael, the narrator from Moby Dick, as a surrogate "because he finds a way to talk about the terrible things in a way that's adventurous and curious." This is our Martin Crane the restless, yearning young musical adventurer, balancing raging power, with a lovely articulation of deep feelings. The song holds its tempo, just barely reined in, with spirals of guitar, swells of organ or explosions of percussion threatening to erupt, while Crane's salty caramel vocal is warm and emphatic. "I particularly like that in male singers," Crane says, "a sensitive masculinity that makes room for sadness yet still retains its strength."

WATCH // Brazos Share New Video for “Charm”

Hot dog! All the kids are talking about the new Brazos “Charm” video! What? You haven’t seen it? That’s a shame! Better do so now (available above or at Clash Music). The video was directed by Josh Chertoff, who sees “Charm” as “a glimpse into a life’s worth of those small moments.”

“Charm” is available on Brazos’ new album – SALTWATER! While the record is not officially out until next Tuesday, you can download all nine tracks immediately after pre-ordering the vinyl or CD from SC Distribution. Saltwater is also available at iTunes and Amazon.

ALBUM STREAM // Brazos’ ‘SALTWATER’ Playing Now at SPIN, New Summer Dates With Cayucas

Good day. Brazos’ new album is now available for streaming at SPIN. SALTWATER hits stores next Tuesday, May 28, so you have well over a week to acquaint yourself with the “deceptively complex pop tunes” before you purchase at SC Distribution, iTunes, and Amazon.


Annndd just in time for summer! Brazos is going on tour with Cayucas!! We imagine that’s going to be a pretty fun tour; make sure to catch both bands live. Full schedule below!

05/31/13 Brooklyn, NY – Permanent Records FREE
06/14/13 Toronto, ON – Sneaky Dee’s (NXNE) w/ The Luyas
06/15/13 Toronto, ON – The Great Hall (NXNE) w/ Villagers
07/07/13 Washington, DC – DC9 w/ Cayucas
07/09/13 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade (Purgatory Stage) w/ Cayucas
07/10/13 Birmingham, Al – Bottletree w/ Cayucas
07/11/13 New Orleans, LA – Circle Bar w/ Cayucas
07/12/13 Houston, TX – Mango’s w/ Cayucas
07/13/13 Austin , TX – Red 7 w/ Cayucas
07/14/13 Dallas, TX – Three Links w/ Cayucas
07/21/13 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory w/ Indians

PRE-ORDER TIME // Brazos’ ‘Saltwater’ Available at SCD, iTunes and Amazon

PRE-ORDER TIME! You know what that means! Head to SC Distribution, iTunes, or Amazon to order your very own copy of Brazos’ Saltwater, out officially on May 28. When you pre-order at SCD, you’ll receive a digital download of both Saltwater and Phosphorescent Blues immediately and a handful of saltwater taffy (no joke). Hot diggity.

TOMORROW NIGHT! Brazos will play at the Rooftop Films screening of Frances Ha. Tickets are now sold out or we’d tell you to buy them.

WATCH // Brazos Perform Live for Subway Tracks

Brazos are back with a new Subway Tracks session! It is a live video of “Deeper Feelings,” performed live on a New York City subway platform. The song is off of Brazos’ new album, Saltwater, out May 28! Watch above.

If you’re based in NYC, head out to the Cameo Gallery during Brazos month-long residency. The fun starts next week on April 16. You’ll find the schedule below.

04/16/13 – Brooklyn, NY – Cameo Gallery – w/Snowblink & The Loom
04/23/13 – Brooklyn, NY – Cameo Gallery – w/Friend Roulette, Doug Keith, Boyd Shropshire
04/30/13 – Brooklyn, NY – Cameo Gallery – w/ARMS, Cooper Formant, The Relatives
05/07/13 – Brooklyn, NY – Cameo Gallery – w/Companion, Very Special Guest

Booking Agent Contact

Mahmood Shaikh

Adam Countryman

Stefan Juhlin
Eleanor McGuinness

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