The Brothers Comatose's new album, "City Painted Gold" — out earlier this year on Swamp Jam Records — is an account of changes in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.
Brothers Ben and Alex Morrison, on guitar, banjo and vocals, wrote music for the album at their home on Haight Street. It tells of a friendly, albeit quirky, art mecca changed to a place that only the ultra-rich can afford to live. Venues closed, and artists and musicians moved out of the neighborhood.
Shortly after its recording was completed, The Brothers Comatose joined the ranks of the displaced.
"We're spread out a little bit," Ben Morrison says during a telephone interview from his new digs in Oakland. "There are members living between Santa Cruz and Petaluma. I lived in San Francisco for a long, long time, but no everyday person can afford to live there anymore."
Touring behind the new album, The Brothers Comatose will perform at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at Brickroom Gathering House, 35 N. Main St., Ashland. Admission to the show is $15.
"City Painted Gold" is the anticipated release among fans the band won over while touring the U.S. in support of its past two releases: "Songs From the Stoop" (2010) and "Respect the Van" (2012). Those releases led to tours with Devil Makes Three, Yonder Mountain String Band and Lake Street Dive — which in turn led to the band's headlining shows on club and festival circuits.
The Brothers Comatose has toured nationally for awhile, just not as heavily as this year, and this is the band's first year to tour internationally.
"The response to 'City' is pretty awesome," Morrison says. "Fans at our shows know all the words to the songs, and they sing them loudly. It's one of the greatest things you could ask for as a band. We headlined The Fillmore in our hometown and sold the place out. We've had a handful of shows in Canada, and plans for an Australian tour are coming up near the end of this month."
The string band's rocking sound has a tinge of southwestern sensibility and a sense of experienced confidence. With Ben and Alex Morrison at the helm, the group touts bassist Gio Benedetti, fiddler Philip Brezina and mandolin player Ryan Avellone.
The show is just one, big, extended Morrison music party. It all started long before the brothers ever picked up instruments.
"Our mom was in a folk quartet called Compass Road, and they would sing beautiful harmonies," Morrison says. "When Alex and I were kids, we would listen to them rehearse for hours. Later, when we were in high school, our mother hosted house parties for those musicians — the famous Morrison house parties. They were pretty casual. They'd come with different instruments and pass around songs, sing them and teach everyone how to play them. It was like going to school. It all started there."
The Morrison brothers eventually found themselves with instruments in their hands. Ben started playing his dad's acoustic guitar, and Alex happened upon a banjo that someone had left behind after one of the music parties. The brothers learned classic rock covers and played in their living room at the Morrison house parties. They soon drifted to Americana and were joined by close friend Benedetti.
From that experience, the brothers hold fast to the harmonies and closeness that come from acoustic music.
"That's a part of it, hearing four voices blend together to make one huge voice," Morrison says. "That's probably the most powerful thing we use in our music."