For nearly a decade, The Brothers Comatose have honed their sound, a blend of high lonesome bluegrass, California dreamin’ and western jam band.
Formed by a pair of brothers — Alex and Ben Morrison, who were born and raised in Petaluma — the five-piece string ensemble approached perfection on last year’s album, “City Painted Gold.”
“The last recording, we hunkered down in the studio and spent a lot of time getting everything right,” said Ben Morrison, vocalist and guitarist for the band during a phone interview from his Oakland home.
For their recently released songs, the musicians took an alternate tack, going for a more spontaneous and live approach.
“This time around it’s been totally different,” he said. “Sometimes we’re still working out parts in the studio.”
Like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, a couple of bands they idolized in high school, The Brothers Comatose recorded their new songs on analog equipment.
“We recorded straight to 2-inch tape, so we didn’t have the luxury of going back and changing little things like you can with ProTools (digital sound editing software),” he said.
“It’s a really rudimentary approach. You get in there and bang it out, and you’re like, alright, this is what our band sounds like.”
The new Brothers Comatose album is slated for release next summer, but four of the songs, including the catchy “Don’t’ Make Me Get Up and Go,” have been published online and are available on a 10-inch vinyl EP called “Ink.”
The Brothers’ effusive and uplifting songs have drawn passionate fans to the their shows.
They started by playing just about any venue that offered them a stage, from Brixx restaurant in Petaluma to the now defunct Ace in the Hole cider pub near Sebastopol.
The Dec. 29 and 30 shows at Petaluma’s Mystic Theatre mark a homecoming for the local band.
“Every time we play in Petaluma it’s special,” Morrison said. “My parents still live in Petaluma, Gio (Benedetti, the bassist) still lives in Petaluma, and my brother Alex (banjo) lives in Petaluma.”
Rounding out the group: Philip Brezina on violin and Ryan Avellone on mandolin. The Brothers Comatose also play Dec. 28 at Santa Cruz’s Catalyst and New Year’s Eve at the Cornerstone in Berkeley.
This year saw the Brothers play the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park and do their own three-show “Horseback Tour” through the Sierra foothills near Auburn when the Brothers literally rode on horseback from show to show for a change of pace. It may have offered a break from traveling by van, but it wasn’t easy.
“It was insane; I had no idea how tough it would be,” Morrison said. “We were getting up super early and shooting (video) most of the day while riding to the gig.”
After the shows, “we had to ride back to our campsite in the dark with our headlamps on,” he said. “And then we got up the next day and did it all again. We were riding 10 or 20 miles. I’ve never been so tired at a gig my entire life.”
Thankfully, the musicians didn’t try to strap their instruments onto the horses.