Walking on Brady Street you can find a place filled with the neon glow of bar signs pooling on the sidewalk, choruses of laughter lingering in the air and cigarette smoke mixing with the scent of fried food. For band Dead Horses, it’s also a place to find inspiration.
The Milwaukee-based folk trio – with front woman Sarah Vos, stand up bassist Dan Wolff and drummer Jamie Gallagher – celebrates the city’s iconic street in their new single “Brady Street,” which is out now on all streaming services. On Aug. 12, they will be releasing a full album with the same name.
Compared to their earlier music, the new album takes on a more of an urban feel, Vos said. Acoustic guitar, later joined by Gallagher’s understated drums, is the steady heartbeat throughout the “Brady Street,” ushering in Vos’ melancholy vocals. The lyrics grapple with searching and losing in life.
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“The song has a much different feel than any of our other records,” Wolff said. “I feel like we widened the whole spectrum. Like, the heavy stuff is heavier than anything we’ve done, and even the lighter and more subdued stuff is lighter.”
The band’s third full-length album began taking shape while Vos, who also writes songs for the group, was living in a small apartment a few blocks off Brady. Especially during the pandemic, she had time to think and absorb the colorful ebb and flow of the city around her. Brady Street stood out to Vos because of its dynamic energy and cast of colorful characters.
“When you live somewhere and you’re really immersed in it, the energy of like, the streets kind of influences you,” Vos said. “Brady Street seem to be kind of an all-encompassing theme to both the songs and the record. Milwaukee has been such a big part of who we are as a band.”
She describes Brady Street as their coming-of-age album, the first one she’s truly felt good about putting out into the world. It was a body of work she could listen to without criticizing her craft. Recording the album, the group came into their own artistically, playing off each other’s strengths, Vos said.
Dead Horses formed in 2010 after Vos and Wolff met through mutual friends and started jamming out together. In the beginning, Wolff described their sound as loose, instrumental bluegrass, which organically fell into place. The group won a Battle of the Bands in Oshkosh, and the contest winnings went to fund the recording of their first album Space and Time.
Over the next few years, the band’s music evolved into something tighter and more lyrics-driven with more rock-like undertones, Wolff said. The Dead Horses duo became a trio when Gallagher joined the group, adding drums to their sound.
Right now, the band is enjoying getting back into the live performances in Milwaukee and across the country after venues were closed for COVID-19. Looking towards the future, Vos and Wolff hope to further establish the band and be in the recording studio more.
“We started out as a bar band, and we got thrown into this really cool scene where we were able to just play original music,” Vos said. “I’m excited to keep working on it and keep growing even more. Brady Street is a really good representation of what we’re trying to do artistically.”