Indie rock brushed with jazzy complexity
Brazos mastermind Martin Crane uses conventional tools — guitar, bass, drums, every now and then some keyboard or tambourine — to build intricate songs that lean hard on idiosyncrasy. On Saltwater, the second Brazos album (and first for the fine label Dead Oceans), Crane orchestrates a mad indie-rock clatter that sounds effortless, easy, always on the brink of breaking but never really at risk of falling apart. “Always On” strikes a telling opening note with feverishly strummed acoustic guitar, a funky bass line, streaks of synths, and drums that tumble as if played inside a dryer. Over top is Crane’s expressive voice, oddly adenoidal but agile and expressive. “How the Ranks Was Won” works all the same elements into a sweeping drama, with a casual shift of styles subtly and impressively prevalent on the rest of the record. The result is indie rock brushed with jazzy complexity and delivered with all the nonchalance of old Brazilian record spinning on a beach in the sun.