|Martin Crane (photo via Dead Oceans)
"How the Ranks Was Won" is a charming tune, almost disarming in its simplicity. There’s an appealing, quirky vibe embedded in the layers of instruments. Martin Crane’s emotive vocals hover above it all, the songwriter communicating a personal journey both physically and emotionally. Following a self-produced album in 2009, Phosphorescent Blues, he had found a lonely existence back in Austin after touring in support of the likes of Grizzly Bear, Vampire Weekend and The National.
"Most of my good friends had moved away from Austin," Crane recalls. "I was working at a phone bank and hanging out in bars a lot. I'd lost touch with the meaningful things." In a search for “something new,” he packed everything he could into a 1990 Honda Civic wagon and moved to New York City, where the songs poured forth. Crane wrote over 30 songs over two years, before heading into the studio with new bandmates Spencer Zahn on bass and drummer Ian Chang.
"I think this record is about learning how to be alone. And I think that's how it's spiritual. You can't actually love anything if you need it. I think this record is an odyssey out into deep solitude in order to really get a grasp of myself." The album, titled Saltwater, is due out May 28 through Dead Oceans.
Below is a live video for “How the Ranks Was Won” featuring the band, along with the official one, which was written and directed by Crane. Crane juxtaposes photos of urban living with cartoon characters and animated paintings spelling out deep-thought type questions such as “Does memory get better the older you get?”
After returning to his hometown for shows during SXSW, the band is gearing up for a month-long residency at The Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg, April 16, 23, 30 and May 7.