It's Tuesday, one of the biggest days in Cary Brothers' life, the day his album "Who You Are" is released, and the singer-songwriter is talking about good fortune. "I hope my karma is saving itself for the record," he jokes from his home in L.A., where he is laid up. "I cracked my ankle doing the video shoot, then I lost the hard drive on the laptop that does everything for me."
By the time he hobbles into the Hotel Cafe tonight for his record-release show, Brothers figures to have some stories to tell, beyond those on his lushly orchestrated debut. There, amid ringing guitars, crashing cymbals and tinkling pianos, the Nashville native with the Britpop sensibilities tells his L.A. tales, touching on "a lot of things that have happened to me since I moved here, all the disastrous relationships, everything I've learned ... like not to date actresses," he says.
In Brothers' case, it's been as much "where you are" as "Who You Are." He was playing open mike nights when he discovered the singer-songwriter scene at the Hotel Cafe, and with a boost from one of its pillars, Gary Jules, earned some gigs there. "The Hotel's where I got my legs," Brothers says. "It taught me how to write a good song and be totally fearless."
His big break came when a college buddy from Northwestern, writer-producer Zach Braff, used "Blue Eyes" in the "Garden State" soundtrack -- a song that Brothers, not a fan of country music despite his home turf, calls "kind of short-form Gram Parsons."
It's the hidden track on the album, but newer fans might be drawn to "Ride" (in the movie "The Last Kiss") and the title track, if for nothing else, the video. Brothers dismissed proposals for Hallmark-commercial video treatment. Instead he concocted his own: His band plays a high school dance and intervenes when a jealous boyfriend threatens a nerd. Brothers injured his ankle diving off the stage but gamely finished the shoot. "I hurt my ankle," he says, "and \o7then\f7 we have to shoot the fight scene."
Cary Brothers, Hotel Cafe, 1623 1/2
Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. 8:30 tonight. $10. (323) 461-2040, www.hotelcafe.com