Brazil's theatrical and literary advantage 

Brazil, Harley Poe, Shadeland
Locals Only
Sunday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m., $8

There are times in life when you enjoy the security of being on solid ground, and then there are times when you know you must close your eyes, take a risk and jump. Meet Brazil.

Originally from Muncie, Ind., and steadily garnering more critical acclaim and national attention with each album release, the self-proclaimed epic indie rock band will wrap up its Midwest tour this Sunday at Locals Only, in support of its second CD, The Philosophy of Velocity.

Although Philosophy stays true to the drama-infused Brazil sound, there is something very different about the album. Maybe it’s the conceit of the madman at the typewriter. Maybe it’s the operatic quality that the album seems to embody. Then again, it could just be the careful attention the musicians give their projects.

“The man at the typewriter is a general image of a writer who is at odds with himself,” says bassist Philip Williams. “He’s the iconic image of what’s going on in the story; it’s up to everyone else to draw their conclusions.”

And the looseness and inconclusitivity works to the band’s advantage. The open-ended songs and stories it tells only serve to heighten dramatic tension, giving Brazil a sound more typical of film work. “Jonathan [Newby], our lyricist, is very much into cinema and incorporating books he’s read,” Williams says. “We definitely have more of a literary vibe.”

Newby explains, “We never want to write the same album twice. In Philosophy, I think it keeps enough of the old ways but leaves a lot of room open for rethinking of what it is we do. We always want to make huge leaps [and] not get stuck in a safety zone.”

It’s because of the interrelationship between small band and big sound that allows Brazil to work on concept-centered pieces and imbue its music with a ’70’s rock theatricality — the same over-the-top quality as Queen or David Bowie, but in the opposite direction. Brazil owes it to its spirit of collaboration and the collective trust that’s required of a band to take risks, jumping to the next level and landing.

Williams, who booked the Indy show, is the first to concede to reality. “We’re still an underdog,” he says. “There are no guarantees.”

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