Listen to Austin 360 Radio

First full-length album marks a brand-new Brazos

Patrick Caldwell

Martin Crane was no stranger to self-recording, double-tracking himself at age 13 on a set of two tape recorders. So it was old hat when Crane self-recorded two EPs under the name Brazos in 2007: the lo-fi 'Feeding Frenzy' and the dense, lyrical folk rock delight 'A City Just As Tall.' But when Brazos, augmented live by musicians he met in the University of Texas' Plan II Honors Program, won opening slots for Grizzly Bear and Vampire Weekend and drew high expectations for an eventual LP, the next step proved elusive. Two years and multiple lineup changes later, Brazos, now a trio with bassist Paul Price and drummer Andy Beaudoin, will release its debut full-length, 'Phosphorescent Blues,' Nov. 10 on Autobus Records.

To echo the sentiments of a fan who posted 'WHERES THE ALBUM?' on the band's MySpace page — 63 times, no less — what took so long?

'It just went through a lot of changes to narrow down what exactly it was we were doing. It was a lot of trial and error,' says Crane, a lanky 26-year-old. 'It was the first time we had undertaken something on this scale before.'

The writing process was speedy, with Crane penning all the songs in two weeks in spring 2008. 'I remember I came home every day and I just wrote for five or six hours and didn't stop. It was an intense, focused burst, and then it was over,' says Crane. 'And I'm coming to realize that's how I work. I go for long periods of time where I don't feel the need to say anything. And then all of a sudden I'll just explode, because I'll get too crazy and the top will come off.'

But recording and putting the finishing touches on his songs proved trickier. Crane had to adjust to the process of creating music with a full band. 'I'm used to playing sloppy music, and everybody who played on the album is really good,' says Crane. 'Better than I am. So I had to kind of learn to play up to their standard.'

Maybe that's why 'Phosphorescent Blues' sounds so markedly different from Brazos' first two recordings. Where 'A City Just As Tall' was thoughtful and eccentric but also conventionally catchy, 'Phosphorescent' eschews traditional verse-chorus-verse structure for a hypnotic sound with purposefully repetitive rhythms and poetic lyricism. 'It doesn't really feel like this album has anything to do with anything that came before it. In my mind, it's kind of a brand-new band,' says Crane. 'It's a new start.'