Infinite Shuffle

August 24, 2013

171 – Ivan & Alyosha

Filed under: I, Seattle — assman41 @ 7:02 pm

After listening to their debut full-length album several times in the last few days, it almost seems criminal that no one has ever heard of Ivan & Alyosha.

Maybe listeners are turned off by their rather ho-hum name. Fans of Russian literature — and who isn’t, right? — may recognize the names of two characters from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov.

If anything, that adds to the band’s allure. But really, it doesn’t need any other selling points besides its songs.

That is “Running For Cover”, the big single and most radio-friendly song on All the Times We Had, the Seattle group’s first LP and fourth release overall. But it’s far from the only notable song here. In fact, the disc is so loaded with catchy tracks that it will deserve consideration once the end-of-the-year lists are being compiled.

Some of the other top tunes include “Fathers Be Kind”, “Easy To Love”, “Don’t Wanna Die Anymore” and “Who Are You”. Also worth noting are “Be Your Man”, “The Fold”, “On My Way” and “God Or Man”.

Listen to this album and it’s easy to compare the group to contemporaries such as Dawes and The Head and the Heart. But Ivan & Alyosha are a little less folky and slightly closer to the rock-pop end of the spectrum, occasionally conjuring up thoughts of Wilco.

On a few songs, particularly “The Fold”, lead singer Tim Wilson almost seems to be channeling Brandon Flowers of The Killers. And often throughout the album, there is a pretty clear Beatles influence. Then again, what rock or pop band out there doesn’t get compared to the Fab Four at some point.

On their 2011 EP, Fathers Be Kind, the Beatles vibe was even more prominent. That disc also marked a clear transition for Ivan & Alyosha from a pop-folk band to a folk-pop group — if that makes any sense.

Their debut release, the 2009 EP, The Verse, the Chorus, was kinda reminiscent to Coldplay and maybe a little Snow Patrol.

While these EPs are strong in their own right, it’s their latest release that should finally help Ivan & Alyosha reach a larger audience.

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July 24, 2013

Overrated threeplay

Filed under: Brooklyn, England, I, Las Vegas, P, S — assman41 @ 2:26 am

A number of bands have hit the scene in the last year or so that have gained a great deal of hype — some of them perhaps undeservedly so.

Here’s a look at three groups that are better on paper than they are on record.

Savages

An all-girl quartet from London that mixes the sass of Siouxsie and the Banshees with the post-punk ethos of Joy Division.

It sounds like a can’t-miss formula. Unfortunately, Savages missed the mark on their debut release, Silence Yourself, which came out in May of this year.

Instead of an awesome hybrid of two seminal bands, Savages come across as something of a collection of art-rock posers.

There will definitely be a swath of people who fall head over heels for this group, but there will be a lot more that are turned off by lead singer Jehnny Beth’s poor attempt at mimicking Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Parquet Courts

I had never heard of Parquet Courts before reading a blurb in Rolling Stone, which is not necessarily a good thing in my book. And after listening to their debut full-length, 2012’s Light Up Gold, it seems clear why that rag would be all about the group.

Based in Brooklyn, the indie-punk quartet finds its influence in the DIY punk bands of the early ’80s. Unfortunately, rather than using those bands as muses, Parquet Courts seem content to simply mimic them. The result is an album full of derivative tunes.

The music isn’t horrible, but the time you waste listening to it would be better spent looking into Husker Du or The Replacements or any of a number of their counterparts.

By the way, when the album finished playing on MOG, it went directly to a Nickelback song. If that’s not a warning sign, I don’t know what is.

Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons have always rubbed me the wrong way ever since they started gaining buzz last year with the release of their full-length debut, Night Visions. Part of it was probably the fact that I was constantly being besieged with their ads on Facebook.

But their music is just generic electro-pop/rock. They’re lumped in with similar groups such as Grouplove, Young The Giant, Walk the Moon and Neon Trees. But they clearly belong on the less-talented end of that spectrum.

Granted, they have one really good song in “It’s Time” and another decent one in “Hear Me”, but other than that, Imagine Dragons aren’t really worth the time or effort.

After reading that several band members hail from Utah and attended Brigham Young University and that the group won a battle of the bands at BYU, it makes more sense as to why the music seems so vanilla.

Despite transplanting to Las Vegas, they still lack much flair.

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