Music

Ivan & Alyosha: The Verse, the Chorus

Looking for a decent indie pop effort? Ivan and Alyosha has just the thing.


Ivan & Alyosha

The Verse, the Chorus

Label: Cheap Lullaby
US Release Date: 2009-10-20
UK Release Date: 2009-10-20
Amazon
iTunes

Back in Seattle, an ever-growing indie music hub, Tim Wilson and Ryan Carbary are better known as Ivan & Alyosha. Now, with the widespread rerelease of their first EP, The Verse, the Chorus, the pair is sure to take local buzz to the next level. The nearly two years of work invested into their debut EP are instantly noticeable; the album is moved by an undeniable thoughtfulness, product of the musicians’ honest dedication to their craft.

Starting off with “Beautiful Lle”, the seven songs that make up The Verse, the Chorus shift through effortless transitions until the very end. Listening to the first track, it’s easy get a good idea of what Ivan and Alyosha is shooting for: good natured, straightforward pop goodness. And like most songs on the EP, “Beautiful Lle” is a well-rounded effort.

Amongst Oasis-like guitar riffs, “Once and Future” follows suit. Throughout the song (and most of the album), gently arranged backup vocals complete the concept of an ethereal brit-pop rendition. When heard carefully, tiny details throughout the record reveal the careful and dedicated production that went into The Verse, the Chorus.

Endearing choruses, lovely backups, and caring vocals: there is nothing really aggressive about the lyrics or arrangements on The Verse, the Chorus; delicate is an accurate term. Case in point, “You´re really easy to love / And I can´t take it / My heart is aching” exclaim the lyrics on the accordingly titled “Easy to Love”. Abundant claps, heavy drums, gentle guitars and building whistles gradually take strength, but ultimately, simplicity (both instrumentally and lyrically) makes this one an easy, congenial hit.

Though production-wise there is very little to criticize, the content of the EP is nothing less than familiar since, unfortunately, the duo wears their Myspace “influence list” right on their sleeve. The Beatles, Queen, Wilco… Besides, The Verse, the Chorus is exactly that proverbial: a verse, a chorus, and the occasional bridge. And though very well done, the songs have a predictable structure that does everything but keep you on the edge of your seat.

“Some Friend You Are” is actually able to use this repetitive pattern in its favor; “I thought you were a friend of mine” Wilson indignantly sings over and over again. It´s because of tracks like this that Ivan & Alyosha earns some hard-earned praise for their melodic capabilities. “Wish I Knew” and “You´re on to Something” both share a truly amazing vocal clarity and boast beautiful melodies all around. While the first is an uncomplicated heartfelt tune, the second brands itself with a little more Americana.

Amongst the natural transitions, applaud-worthy melodies, and gratifying consistency presented on The Verse, the Chorus, there is no doubt that Ivan & Alyosha have what it takes. And though there is always room for improvement (journeying further from their retro adjustments is a must) the twosome has accomplished a truly pure, sprightly, good natured pop album.

6

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image