Getting tickets to Austin City Limits, the PBS show not the festival, is tough. Fortunately, the local PBS station that hosts the series, KLRU, has started a new Web-only music series called ACL Stage Left. They feature local artists and provide "a space where the very best, most unique, passionate music artists can capture great moments and tell their tales, turning their listeners and our viewers into life-long fans." I can support that.
A few weeks ago a friend and I went to see Brazos on ACL Stage Left. It's in the same studio as Austin City Limits, just with different staging. In typical Austin style there was plenty of free beer, which was nice. Two days prior to the taping I saw Brazos open for Wye Oak. I love me some Wye Oak but Brazos was the band that impressed me most that night. They have a unique style that combines folk, rock, and jazz. It's often quiet and melodic, moody but reaffirming. The music is strong but the lyrics are equally compelling. It's rare for a band strike that balance. Perhaps their greatest asset is Martin Crane's effortless vocals. Here he is performing the first song he ever wrote, "Mary Jo":
Not bad, huh? The vocals on that one remind me of Band of Horses. I look forward to seeing the entire performance when it's posted online. In the meantime, here's another great video from ACL Stage Left. It's Leatherbag (who looks and sounds like a combo of Buddy Holly, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan) performing "On Down The Line":