Following a fruitful 2014 in which Twin Brother released its emotive coming of age record, Swallow The Anchor, the band that began as a folk trio started to move in a different direction. Amid departures, shifting roles, and member additions, singer Sean Raasch put out a solo record under the Twin Brother moniker. At the time, Raasch’s upbeat and electronically-infused release seemed to be a departure from anything his project has ever done. Looking back, it now seems like a sign of what was to come.
After original drummer Tyler Nelson departed in 2015, Raasch says he flew to Austin alone and spent a few weeks there writing “a few albums worth of material that was heavily-inspired by the area he was in”—both geographically and emotionally. He returned to Milwaukee with a chest of new material, along with new ideas of where he wanted to take Twin Brother. The stripped-down trio has since expanded to a six-piece, with Lodewijk “Lodi” Broekhuizen moving from bass to lead guitar, Terry Hackbarth taking over on bass, Luke Rivard occupying the drum throne vacated by Tyler Nelson, Andrew Eshbaugh adding horns to the mix, Marlese Koehnlein supplying organ accompaniment, and Raasch (usually) setting down the guitar to focus on front man duties.
Alone In Austin is a full-fledged re-imagining of the songs Raasch wrote in Texas. Opener “Bombs Will Fall” is an aural onslaught of guitar noodling, airtight percussion, as well as organ and brass accompaniment that rises and falls with each emotional line the bandleader bellows. The wartime fever dream bleeds into the title track and “New Mexico Day Dream,” which are more uplifting and fleshed out than anything Twin Brother has managed to date. Of course, marks of old work remain, namely the mournful, downtrodden “Heywood” in all its bleariness conveyed through Broekhuizen’s evocative guitar solos, some well-placed horns, and Raasch’s restrained-but-powerful vocals. Raasch flew to Texas alone, but he came back with enough material to share with five other people. Thankfully, those musicians managed to help the solitary songwriter take those songs places Twin Brother has never been before.
Twin Brother will release Alone In Austin at Anodyne’s Walker’s Point Roastery on Friday, September 22. Abby Jeanne and Dramatic Lovers will play in support. The show begins at 8 p.m. and costs $10. You can stream Alone In Austin below.