Bay Area alt-folk string band Brothers Comatose have never been bound by tradition.
After eight years, countless tours and three acclaimed albums, Petaluma natives and brothers Ben and Alex Morrison, and fellow band members Gio Benedetti, Philip Brezina and Ryan Avellone, are changing the formula and putting their efforts into a series of strategically released singles, including the wistful acoustic gem “Joshua Tree,” released this month.
“The last record [2016’s City Painted Gold] inspired that a lot,” says Ben Morrison. “Putting out an album is a long process. You’re sitting on music over a year after you’ve recorded it before it’s released, and that just seems so crazy to me.”
Instead of holing up for months to record, mix, master, print, promote and tour behind one set of songs, Brothers Comatose are popping in to studios like Tiny Telephone in San Francisco and recording a single track. Once those songs are mixed, they’re released as soon as possible, one at a time.
“It’s mostly to keep us interested and excited,” says Morrison, “because you’re releasing the music while it’s still fresh.”
Already, Brothers Comatose have seen the fruits of their labor this year, as their first three singles—”Don’t Make Me Get Up and Go,” “Cedarwood Pines” and “Get Me Home”—became fan favorites in the middle of the band’s Campfire Caravan tour this past summer. “We went places we don’t normally go and would play the new songs,” says Morrison. “And it was cool to see people singing the words along to these songs that had just come out.”
The new “Joshua Tree” is a bit of a departure for the normally raucous and rowdy band; it’s a slow-building and intimate song that opens with a finger-picked guitar and Morrison’s resonant baritone voice invoking the national park’s famous sense of serenity. “It’s a magical place, it’s got this beautiful prehistoric vibe to it,” says Morrison. “It’s been a getaway for me.”
Speaking of getaways, after Brothers Comatose plays their annual run of pre–New Years Eve shows in Petaluma on Dec. 29–30, the band will travel to China in late January for three weeks as part of a cultural music exchange with the American Music Abroad program, directed by the U.S. State Department.
“It’s going to be a mix of shows and educational performances,” says Morrison. “Bringing American music to other parts of the world.”