Fri April 19, 2024

Brainstory

at The Independent (9pm)
Brainstory's new album Sounds Good, simply put, lives up to its name.

Based in L.A. but hailing from the Inland Empire's own Rialto, CA, two-thirds of Brainstory, Kevin and Tony Martin are brothers by blood, while Eric Hagstrom is a brother through their music and long term friendship. While the group's initial connection comes from the heady mixture of jazz-performance-focused music school and the grind of playing local shows, their bond has been strengthened through countless hours on the road touring and the making of two studio records--2019's debut full-length, Buck, followed by 2021's Ripe EP. "Being on the road, doing our own tours, and backing incredible people like Lady Wray, has sharpened our skills and really revved us up for this record," Kevin says. "It's been four years since our last full length record, and with everything that's happened since, it's like we've been catching up to ourselves." That's one way to describe change: catching up to oneself. Each member of Brainstory has gone through shifts, both personally and musically, and all of that thread through this record.

Since they started the band they have constantly faced situations that forced them to rise to the occasion. They got signed to Big Crown Records, they stepped up their game. Covid happened, they learned to record themselves. They started touring a ton sharing the stage with the likes of Lady Wray and they got their live show super tight. All of this time spent grinding and growing has certainly paid off. The path to take their art to the next level is clearer than ever and once again, they are here for it. If there is one thing that is abundantly clear on this album, it's that Brainstory leveled up.

Part of their evolution is undoubtedly attributed to having access to and working constantly in their own studio in Long Beach. Another major factor is that their brotherhood has expanded. "I've been playing music with my brother all my life and now with Eric for a long time," Tony tells us. "Leon, though, is like another brother I've just met."

Leon Michels, Big Crown's co-owner, produced this record and applied his unmistakable golden touch in crucial ways. One glaring example is "Peach Optimo." "When we brought that song in, it was originally at double-time to what's on the record," Eric explains. "And Leon said, 'Let's do it half-time.' So we played it a few times, then nailed it in one take. We were just like, 'Damn--that sounds so good." Another example of how gracefully they work together is Leon's encouragement of Kevin's Delfonics-style singing on "Gift of Life." The B-side of Sounds Good's first single, that manages to be drop dead gorgeous, haunting, and profound all at once. "I have never done that on a record before, singing like that," Kevin admits. "It was a little uncomfortable at first, but, again, Leon's like, 'No, it sounds good!'" The other member of the Brainstory brotherhood whose contributions are essential, is studio engineer legend Jens Jungkurth who controls the tones and textures of the music. "That's what you're hearing, our connection, the fun moments, the little details," Kevin describes. "This record isn't half what it is without them--and it made us want to match that effort."

It's easy to say that the music industry can be short on lasting, genuine relationships. However, for Brainstory, from day one it's been about standing by each other, for each other. Their friendship started the group, and now, this expanded brotherhood is supporting them to push it further. The stars have aligned for them to take a big and well deserved step with this new album, and you can hear it in their music--music that just Sounds Good.

~~~~~~~~~

To be familiar with Brainstory is to know their Rialto, CA, roots, the positivity that laces each of their songs, and then the maverick-musicianship-meets-real-friendship that expertly holds it all together.

If you're new to Brainstory, you'd be forgiven if you didn't quite believe the music they make--from sweet soul slowies to psyche rock-tinted bangers to ballads with a nod to a smooth jazzy R&B of the 70s--is the product of only three people.

Brainstory is the brothers Kevin and Tony Martin (on guitar/vocals and bass, respectfully) and Eric Hagstrom (drums)--but all three of these raw, sensitive, California dudes are family.

Inspired and conceived in California's Inland Empire, these three found each other through the common denominator of jazz. With no real music scene to speak of in the IE, Kevin and Eric landed in music school (where they initially met) while Tony left for San Francisco to study jazz bass the more traditional way--gig after gig, learning by trial-by-fire. By the mid-2010s, the group was in Los Angeles. "That's what we were all into at the time--jazz," Kevin explains. "And that's what we wanted to do with our first EP in 2014--take our songs and expand them, improvise, weld jazz onto them. We wanted to trick people into listening to jazz, basically."

Fast forward to today, and no trickery is needed. Kevin, Tony, and Eric have evolved into something seemingly bigger than the self-released EPs and opening acts of their past. Indeed, they needed to grow through it all--and are very thankful for it. But don't limit them as just jazz heads, although the transcendent and freeing nature of that genre is crucial to the Brainstory sound.
Brainstory's new album Sounds Good, simply put, lives up to its name.

Based in L.A. but hailing from the Inland Empire's own Rialto, CA, two-thirds of Brainstory, Kevin and Tony Martin are brothers by blood, while Eric Hagstrom is a brother through their music and long term friendship. While the group's initial connection comes from the heady mixture of jazz-performance-focused music school and the grind of playing local shows, their bond has been strengthened through countless hours on the road touring and the making of two studio records--2019's debut full-length, Buck, followed by 2021's Ripe EP. "Being on the road, doing our own tours, and backing incredible people like Lady Wray, has sharpened our skills and really revved us up for this record," Kevin says. "It's been four years since our last full length record, and with everything that's happened since, it's like we've been catching up to ourselves." That's one way to describe change: catching up to oneself. Each member of Brainstory has gone through shifts, both personally and musically, and all of that thread through this record.

Since they started the band they have constantly faced situations that forced them to rise to the occasion. They got signed to Big Crown Records, they stepped up their game. Covid happened, they learned to record themselves. They started touring a ton sharing the stage with the likes of Lady Wray and they got their live show super tight. All of this time spent grinding and growing has certainly paid off. The path to take their art to the next level is clearer than ever and once again, they are here for it. If there is one thing that is abundantly clear on this album, it's that Brainstory leveled up.

Part of their evolution is undoubtedly attributed to having access to and working constantly in their own studio in Long Beach. Another major factor is that their brotherhood has expanded. "I've been playing music with my brother all my life and now with Eric for a long time," Tony tells us. "Leon, though, is like another brother I've just met."

Leon Michels, Big Crown's co-owner, produced this record and applied his unmistakable golden touch in crucial ways. One glaring example is "Peach Optimo." "When we brought that song in, it was originally at double-time to what's on the record," Eric explains. "And Leon said, 'Let's do it half-time.' So we played it a few times, then nailed it in one take. We were just like, 'Damn--that sounds so good." Another example of how gracefully they work together is Leon's encouragement of Kevin's Delfonics-style singing on "Gift of Life." The B-side of Sounds Good's first single, that manages to be drop dead gorgeous, haunting, and profound all at once. "I have never done that on a record before, singing like that," Kevin admits. "It was a little uncomfortable at first, but, again, Leon's like, 'No, it sounds good!'" The other member of the Brainstory brotherhood whose contributions are essential, is studio engineer legend Jens Jungkurth who controls the tones and textures of the music. "That's what you're hearing, our connection, the fun moments, the little details," Kevin describes. "This record isn't half what it is without them--and it made us want to match that effort."

It's easy to say that the music industry can be short on lasting, genuine relationships. However, for Brainstory, from day one it's been about standing by each other, for each other. Their friendship started the group, and now, this expanded brotherhood is supporting them to push it further. The stars have aligned for them to take a big and well deserved step with this new album, and you can hear it in their music--music that just Sounds Good.

~~~~~~~~~

To be familiar with Brainstory is to know their Rialto, CA, roots, the positivity that laces each of their songs, and then the maverick-musicianship-meets-real-friendship that expertly holds it all together.

If you're new to Brainstory, you'd be forgiven if you didn't quite believe the music they make--from sweet soul slowies to psyche rock-tinted bangers to ballads with a nod to a smooth jazzy R&B of the 70s--is the product of only three people.

Brainstory is the brothers Kevin and Tony Martin (on guitar/vocals and bass, respectfully) and Eric Hagstrom (drums)--but all three of these raw, sensitive, California dudes are family.

Inspired and conceived in California's Inland Empire, these three found each other through the common denominator of jazz. With no real music scene to speak of in the IE, Kevin and Eric landed in music school (where they initially met) while Tony left for San Francisco to study jazz bass the more traditional way--gig after gig, learning by trial-by-fire. By the mid-2010s, the group was in Los Angeles. "That's what we were all into at the time--jazz," Kevin explains. "And that's what we wanted to do with our first EP in 2014--take our songs and expand them, improvise, weld jazz onto them. We wanted to trick people into listening to jazz, basically."

Fast forward to today, and no trickery is needed. Kevin, Tony, and Eric have evolved into something seemingly bigger than the self-released EPs and opening acts of their past. Indeed, they needed to grow through it all--and are very thankful for it. But don't limit them as just jazz heads, although the transcendent and freeing nature of that genre is crucial to the Brainstory sound.
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  • Fri Apr 19 (9pm)
The Independent 84 Upcoming Events
628 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

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