Sometimes music is best when the making of it is a family affair. Look at The Beach Boys, The Allman Brothers, or The Carter Family. Even here on Sunday Music Spotlight some of the best bands are family, including The Avett Brothers and The Felice Brothers. You can add Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Roman Candle to that list. At their core they are brothers Skip and Logan Matheny, along with Skip’s wife Timshel. For over a decade they’ve been making country-tinged rock n’ roll in the spirit of The Band, Neil Young, and Ryan Adams. But without the encouragement of an NFL player the band would have stopped making music years ago.
Skip and Logan Metheny grew up around music. Their dad was a high school band teacher and a member of an R&B band. While the boys were growing up he took them to Merlefest, Doc Watson’s annual music event. So it was no surprise that while both brothers were attending the University of North Carolina they formed a band and started making music of their own. They were moderately successful on the local scene, but seemed to be done when Skip and his wife Timshel moved to Oregon to get “real” jobs. But then a funny thing happened. Then Denver Broncos defensive lineman Trevor Price contacted the pair and convinced them to sign on to the record label he was founding. With that the band reunited a recorded their first proper album, Says Pop, in 2002.
The years that followed involved touring, more touring, and an uncooperative record label. Long story short, a reworked version of Says Pop entitled The Wee Hours Review was released in 2006. The album was a huge success, getting rave reviews from critics far and wide. Harp Magazine even named it one of the best roots records of the decade. With that kind of praise the band wouldn’t need anymore football playing benefactors.
After a couple of EPs the band is set to release it’s latest full-length album, Oh Tall Tree in the Ear on May 12th.
I love a song that tells a good story, and this one does just that. A man goes to a bar with a friend who has recently been paroled. Inside the joint the friend has grown an appreciated for classic love songs. He decides to share his newfound love with the bar’s patrons via the jukebox. The man, who just had his heart broken in that very bar, doesn’t want to hear anything on the jukebox, as all of the songs remind him of his broken heart. What transpires is a conversation about the state of the music industry, and of modern songs’ ability to move the heart. Great, great stuff.
The first single from the new album showcases the band’s timeless sound. Now’s probably a good time to point out that Skip’s voice is PERFECT for this brand of music. Everything that comes out of his mouth sounds authentic and heartfelt.
“They Say”, acoustic
“You Don’t Belong to This World”, live