B&E: Cary Brothers

Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts.

Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.

BROTHERLY LOVE: It's easy to imagine Cary Brothers during the height of the acoustic genre. If he'd been old enough in the late '60s, the singer/songwriter probably would've grabbed a few rounds with a young David Crosby or shared a smoke with Joni Mitchell after an appearance together at a local coffeehouse.

As it is now, Brothers -- alongside artists like Pete Yorn and Alexi Murdoch -- is one of the emerging acoustic talents in Los Angeles who share the stage of the city's famed Hotel Cafe.

"I don't know if it's my southern roots or what, but the idea of there being a community of musicians is something that appeals to me so much," says the Nashville native. "It's not like anything else in Los Angeles because it's supportive and artistic and there's a community there. It's like my living room."

Brothers wrote the four tracks on his debut EP, "All the Rage," over the past two years with the intimate setting of the coffeehouse in mind. "You have to kind of strip it down a little bit. It has to really just be about voice, lyrics, guitar -- if that doesn't work, you're dead," he says. Singing both harmonies, Brothers contrasts husky southern vocals with a background of Brit-influenced guitar.

"Growing up in Nashville, I was always kind of an odd man out," he says. Discouraged by the slick production of the late '80s country scene, Brothers would "put headphones on and listen to Stone Roses records and feel like I was on another planet. The production of a British record -- that kind of reverb darkness -- was so mysterious."

After being called upon by "Garden State" writer/director/star Zach Braff to "throw around ideas for the soundtrack," the singer's own smoky original "Blue Eyes" made the cut alongside material from artists like Coldplay, the Shins and Nick Drake.

"[Braff] ended up temping some of my songs in the film with the idea that probably they wouldn't make it all the way because they were home recordings," he says. "Every few weeks Zach would call and tell me it was still in there until finally he's like, 'come to the screening.'"

Not only did the single land Brothers his first Billboard chart appearance -- the soundtrack is this week's Greatest Gainer on The Billboard 200 and moves 71-25 in its third week on the chart -- it also linked him with the film's composer, Chad Fischer, who went on to produce "All the Rage" after recording a new version of "Blue Eyes" for the film.

"We just kept going," says Brothers. "Fate kind of worked out nicely, because Chad and I had been talking about working together for a long time."

Calling himself a "pretty stubborn person," the singer isn't anxious to stray far from his organic roots, though he's aware of the doors that a high-profile soundtrack can open for a coffeehouse regular.

"I know who I work well with -- I know who I trust," he says. "I want to try and keep that group together," he says. "I realize once you take other people's money to do something creative, they're going to want to have their influence in there, but at the same time, that's why I'm hoping to get as much success out of the EP as I can, to prove that this works."

Brothers, who used to run a production office, now applies those skills to his own home-based label Procrastination Music, which released his debut. "If I can continue what Chad and I did here and figure out a way to eat, that's all I want and everything else is icing on the cake," he concludes.

The Hotel Cafe will host Brothers on Sept. 7 at 10 p.m.

Artist site: CaryBrothers.com