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Brothers evoke moods through music of Tough Old Bird

A musician’s work can sometimes sound like an extension of his surroundings. Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago” sounds like a cabin in Wisconsin. The entire Ramones catalog sounds like a garage in Queens.

As for Tough Old Bird’s Matt and Nathan Corrigan, their music sounds like a leaf-covered front porch in Fillmore, N.Y.

The folk-focused brothers have shown this much over the past two years, whether on local stages or courtesy of full-length release “Never to Return” and the seven-track EP, “The Barn Sessions” — recorded inside a barn in nearby Hume. Intended or not, every acoustic guitar chord or Corrigan vocal evokes a mood, one you could feel floating over the expanses and history of their host Allegany County.

Now on the cusp of releasing their next yet-to-be-named album, Matt and Nathan are ready to add to their variety of minimalistic and, at times, hauntingly beautiful rustic tracks, ones that have felt right at home across Buffalo bars and clubs including Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.) where they perform Jan. 22. I caught up with them to discuss brotherly love, how they’d like their music to affect listeners, and how their new album came together.

Question: Historically, bands with coexisting brothers don’t have a great track record. How do you guys make it work? 

Matt: I think we’re both in the same headspace about a lot of things. 

Nathan: I guess there are two kinds of brother bands – the explosive we-secretly-hate-each-other kind, and then there’s the kind that pretty much just gets along. We’re definitely the second kind.

Q: Your music beautifully reflects the rustic environment where you both grew up. How important is it for listeners to not only hear this connection, but to understand it?

Nathan: I really love music that has a real strong sense of place to it, so that’s great if people recognize that. At the same time, if somebody hears a song and sees something different in it, that’s totally cool, too. Everybody brings their own experiences to everything they listen to, so once we write a song, it’s not really our business to tell people what it means or how they should feel about it.

Q: You’re about to release your second full-length album in the coming weeks. Does its material indicate artistic growth as a duo and, if so, how?

Matt: We’re always pushing ourselves to write better songs, and I think the songs on the new record are our strongest yet. There’s more collaboration between the two of us on this album than our previous releases. There are times when Nathan will bring a song to me and I can take it aside and arrange accordion parts, slide bits, or anything I think it needs. Other times I’ll write music and be stuck on lyrics, then Nathan will bring something to it that I never could have. 

Nathan: We also got to record with some other musicians, which we had never done before. Jay Corwin from the Timbre Land Whiskey Band played bass with us, and we had Bradford Barry of the Barry Brothers on drums. They really took these songs to a different level.

Concert Preview

Who: Tough Old Bird

When: 10 p.m. Jan. 22

Where: Nietzsche’s, 248 Allen St.

Cost: $5