Bay Area alt-folk string band The Brothers Comatose has never been bound by tradition. After eight years, countless tours and three acclaimed albums, Petaluma natives and brothers Ben and Alex Morrison, along with fellow band members Gio Benedetti, Philip Brezina and Ryan Avellone, are changing the formula in 2017, putting their efforts into a series of strategically released singles—including this month’s wistful acoustic gem, “Joshua Tree.”
“The last record [2016’s City Painted Gold] inspired that [idea] a lot,” Ben Morrison says. “Putting out an album is a long process; you’re sitting on music [for] 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, The Brothers Comatose is popping into 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,” Morrison says. “Because you’re releasing the music while it’s still fresh.”
After releasing three raucous and rowdy singles earlier this year, the band makes a departure with “Joshua Tree,” a slow-building and intimate song featuring Morrison’s resonant baritone voice invoking the national park’s famous sense of serenity. “It is a magical place; it’s got this beautiful prehistoric vibe to it,” Morrison says.
After the band plays a blowout New Year’s Eve party at Cornerstone in Berkeley, The Brothers Comatose will prepare to travel to China as part of a cultural music exchange with the American Music Abroad program. “It’s going to be a mix of shows and educational performances,” Morrison says, “bringing American music to other parts of the world.”
Brothers Comatose, Sunday, Dec. 31, Cornerstone, 2367 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 9pm; $44-$49; 510/214-8600; cornerstoneberkeley.com.