Autumn is nearly over. Here in Chicago, Marine Drive in Uptown is almost entirely yellow with wet leaves sticking to the ground. And they may be from Austin, Texas, but Brazos have been providing the perfect soundtrack for a stroll amidst the yellow, wet leaves.
Brazos’ Martin Crane wrote their latest album Phosphorescent Blues. It doesn’t deal with anything new or groundbreaking—love, feelings, etc. But they exude this feeling of warmth. It’s a feeling that’s easily found in some concoction made of apples—pie or cider or something. It’s also a feeling that you can find while listening to Bowerbirds.
Brazos – “We Understand Each Other” (from Phosphorescent Blues)
The band will be Lincoln Hall with White Denim on Nov. 6. Here’s five from Martin Crane.
1) Atlas Sound – “Quick Canal” (from Logos) – “I listened to this track several times while driving through the Dallas suburbs yesterday. This was a neighborhood with huge McMansions, the sky was clear, and looking out down the street you could only see these structures imposing themselves on the horizon. There is something about this track that made me feel the whole place was sinister, like each house could be in the opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It has the meandering quality of some of Arthur Russell’s best songs; the melody never settles into one idea too long and Laetitia Sadier’s voice feels as if from the future. A foreboding, powerful one.”
2) Cass McCombs – “What Isn’t Nature” (from A) – “Out of all Cass Mccombs’ albums, A is still my fav. The lyrics on that album come from a mysterious place, earnest and aloof, sometimes darkly funny, depressed but in control of depression. I’ve never heard any songs like them. This song seems to capture a bit of all of it. You can read the lyrics to the record on his myspace. They are worth the time.”
3) Randy Travis – “On The Other Hand” (from Storms Of Life)- “So new country isn’t normally my thing, but I went two-stepping in Austin the other day and heard this driving home and liked it. As a song it’s got a lot of what I like about the people you’ll find two-stepping—a kind of dashing, suave chivalry that seems lost everywhere else. He’s telling her that he wants her more than his wife, yet he’s also telling her he must honor his marriage. He’s honest on both sides and very clever. Dancing the two-step is about being composed and graceful while still maintaining the informality of a front porch conversation. Being honest and made up simultaneously. Done well, it’s amazing.”
4) Emmanuelle Parrenin – “Plume Blanche, Plume Noire” (from Maison rose) – “She’s a ’70s French folk musician who plays the harp and other more antiquated string instruments. Her voice is exquisite and airy. This is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and I feel as if the world turns to glass whenever I listen to it. The whole album is light and delicate like this, layers of operatic voices drifting over harps and picked acoustic guitar. The songs speak through the gauze of a light reverb, but it doesn’t cover anything up. The progression is interesting, too, I think drawing from cabaret music but translating it to classical instruments. Just an all around amazing song and recording.”
5) Simeon Ten Holt – “Horizon” (from Horizon) – “This is a long minimalist piano piece for two pianos. If you are able to give yourself the space to listen to it, it can take you a good place. If you can’t give yourself to it, you’ll think it’s boring.”