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Watch Brazos Spark an Emoji Explosion in ‘How the Ranks Was Won’ Video

From the NYC trio's forthcoming 'Saltwater' LP, due May 28 via Dead Oceans

We’ve got a bit of time before Brazos’ Saltwater arrives on Dead Oceans — the New York City trio’s second release is due out May 28 — but newcomers should be thankful for the heads up. While a song like “How the Ranks Was Won” rolls forth with a breezy, downright jaunty ease, all of those comely oohs, playful strums, and bouncy rhythms provide a vehicle for ideas far more complex, as embodied both by main man Martin Crane’s lyrics and by the video he wrote and directed.

“‘How the Ranks Was Won’ is about a kid who finds the empty ship his ancestors came over on which is now a ghost ship,” Crane writes. “He boards it, and takes it back. It’s about taking charge of your memory and your past. I thought it would be funny to do that in modern life. In the video I get a text message from a memory (or maybe my cell phone is secretly trying to control me?), it consumes me, I ride the dreamworld, I come back, then the dreamworld rides me.”

And while the first part of the clip uses stop-motion photography to tell a tale of travel by time and by sea, when Crane receives the SMS in question, his physical reality merges with the virtual environment of his phone. His Emoji icons break loose and seek out their natural placement in the actual world. Before long, the goofy word avatars overwhelm the frame and the viewer’s senses along with it. 

“It’s the first time I’ve ever made any kind of video/film/moving image,” Crane explains further, “and I wanted to make something so saturated with messages that the viewer has to decide which message to pay attention to. I like the idea that it can be unpacked in slow motion. In this way it is interactive — you can explore it … All this pontification aside, I think this video is really fun, mostly. 2 alligators and 2 babies in a 4 way kiss. Emoji faces in the sky … it’s silly.”

Brazos tour dates:
February 22 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
March 13 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
March 14 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
March 15 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
March 16 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
April 16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Cameo Gallery
April 23 – Brooklyn, NY @ Cameo Gallery
April 30 – Brooklyn, NY @ Cameo Gallery
May 7 – Brooklyn, NY @ Cameo Gallery*

Tags: Brazos, Premieres