After years in Chapel Hill’s shadow, Charlotte is now home to several rock bands that are signed to record labels of varying sizes.
But since signing to Columbia Records – home of Concord’s the Avett Brothers – folk-rock combo Matrimony may be the city’s greatest hope to take the Americana roots-rock sound that’s so prevalent here to the national stage for a second time.
Matrimony releases its major label debut, the “Montibello Drive” EP, Tuesday. To celebrate, it plays The Fillmore with Langhorne Slim Saturday.
While the four-track EP may not be the full-length album fans expected, it promises to whet appetites for that upcoming album while serving to introduce the band to the rest of the country.
“The EP is to let people know about us,” says co-founder Jimmy Brown. “We’re not trying to put a full-length out when we aren’t known nationwide. We don’t want to have it flop in terms of sales.”
The EP serves as a precursor to the album on iTunes, where buyers won’t have to pay for the same songs twice once the full album is released.
Matrimony, which was founded by Irishman Brown and his wife, Charlotte native Ashlee Hardee Brown, caught the attention of Band of Horses’ manager, who’d been introduced to them by his blog writer girlfriend. When he played the band’s lively self-made video for “Obey Your Guns” for the label’s president and an A&R rep, Brown got a call.
“He called me when I was in Harris Teeter,” says Brown, who was floored. “I said, ‘Let me set down this rotisserie chicken for a second.’ ”
Matrimony – which includes Ashlee’s brothers CJ Hardee and Jordan Hardee as well as new bassist Ethan Ricks – spent a year and half writing demos and working with folks like Interpol’s Sam Fogarino, recording in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage the Elephant), and opening for bands like Passion Pit and Gaslight Anthem.
Next week, the group makes its major-festival debut, playing two sets at Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn.
The EP features harmony-driven songs – two sung by Brown and two led by Hardee Brown. There are two upbeat tunes and two darker numbers.
“The EP will show we have more to us than a catchy single,” says Brown of “Obey Your Guns,” which was featured in a Chevrolet commercial last year.
Although Matrimony falls under the same stylistic umbrella as Mumford & Sons and its peers, the variety, depth and eclecticism on “Montibello Drive” shows it’s more than just the next group of shout-singing acoustic multi-instrumentalists.
Things are falling into place eight years after Brown settled in Charlotte, after visiting here while working with a real-estate developer.
“I went over to help paint and stuff and had my guitar with me and met a bunch of people,” he says. “I fell in love with the people here and met my wife. He went back to Belfast and I stayed. It’s one of those American dream stories for an Irish person.”
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