Ivan & Alyosha
Matrimony, The Falls
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Ivan & Alyosha
All the Times We Had, Ivan & Alyosha's first full-length album, encapsulates the personalized blend of rousing songcraft, infectious melodic hooks and thoughtful lyrical introspection that's already endeared the band to just about anyone who's witnessed one of their effortlessly uplifting live shows, or who's heard either of their two prior indie EP releases.
The Seattle combo—which borrows its name from a pair of characters from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov—delivers its songs of struggle, perseverance and spirituality with a resilient, upbeat attitude that's reflected in their bubbly brew of stirringly strummed folk-rock guitars, surging instrumental interaction and a bright, buoyant blend of voices that reflects the band members' family-style camaraderie, evoking a timeless pop ideal that's as affecting emotionally as it is pleasing to the ear.
The intrepid ensemble—comprised of core members Tim Wilson (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Ryan Carbary (guitars, piano and vocals), Tim Kim (electric guitar and vocals) and Tim's brother Pete Wilson (bass and vocals), plus a revolving assortment of friends and collaborators on keyboards, drums and other instruments—has spent much of the past two years on the road, traveling the highways and back roads of America, often with wives and children in tow, building a loyal fan base with their joyous, high-energy live performances.
Ivan & Alyosha's prior releases and live shows have won the band copious critical acclaim. They've also done successful stints opening for the likes of Aimee Mann, Brandi Carlile, the Low Anthem, Rosie Thomas and John Vanderslice. Since early in its existence, the group has been embraced enthusiastically by alternative radio, performing multiple on-air sessions for NPR as well as receiving notable support from such key stations as KCRW, KEXP, WFUV and WNYC.
The same qualities that originally won Ivan & Alyosha media attention and a devoted grass-roots audience are apparent on All the Times We Had, which the band co-produced in collaboration with keyboardist/engineer Chad Copelin, and mixed by Jesse Lauter (The Low Anthem). The 11-song album effortlessly captures the warmth and immediacy of Ivan & Alyosha's live performances, lending added resonance to such lyrically compelling, melodically arresting tunes as "Be Your Man," "Running for Cover," "Don't Wanna Die Anymore," "The Fold" and the album's' bittersweetly reflective title track, which features guest vocals by the band's frequent touring partner and longstanding admirer Aimee Mann.
"We didn't get it perfect, but I definitely think we got it right," Tim Wilson says of the new album. "We really worked hard to get a live vibe, and to capture that inspiration that we get when we're on the road, when everybody's together and feeding off of each other. You can nit-pick and edit everything until it sounds perfect, but we were more concerned with just getting the best performances we could. I think that it's more mature and more focused, and closer to what we do live, than the records that we'd done before. We definitely had moments in the studio where it like, 'Oh, wow, this is special.'"
Ivan & Alyosha formed in 2007, when Tim Wilson met Ryan Carbary. Both had been in various Seattle-area combos, but the songs that Wilson was writing at the time seemed to call out for a new musical approach. The pair spent nearly a year writing material for their debut EP, The Verse, The Chorus. Released in March 2009, the EP generated an unexpected level of national exposure, with the charming tune "Easy to Love" (reprised on All the Times We Had) receiving considerable airplay. The debut EP won the band an interview on NPR's All Things Considered and coverage in NPR's All Songs Considered SXSW 2010 preview. A subsequent appearance at the SXSW festival generated considerable music-industry word-of-mouth.
By the time Ivan & Alyosha recorded its second EP, Fathers Be Kind, in February 2011, the group had expanded to include Tim Wilson's bass-playing brother Pete, whose songwriting abilities contributed considerably to the band's creative arsenal, and Tim's high school friend Tim Kim, whose distinctive guitar work added a new dimension to their sound. Fathers Be Kind's majestically jangly title track became a favorite of fans, critics and DJs, and reappears in a newly recorded version on All the Times We Had.
"When we recorded The Verse, the Chorus, we'd never really played live as a band," Tim Wilson notes. "By the time we did the Fathers Be Kind EP, my brother Pete and Tim Kim had come on board, and we had done a west coast tour or two, and some dates on the east coast, but we were still figuring out how to play together. After Fathers Be Kind came out, we went out and spent year and a half touring, and became a real band. I think that's reflected on the new album."
Indeed, All the Times We Had demonstrates the positive effects of the band's extensive roadwork, underlining just how far Ivan & Alyosha has progressed since its humble origins.
"I think that we all feel pretty strongly that this is what we're supposed to be doing, playing music, trying to write good, timeless songs, and trying to connect with people," Wilson states. "I think that we have a pretty deep sense of purpose, that this is not just some accident. I guess that the essence of faith is having felt or experienced something that maybe you can't hold in your hand, and I think that's how I'd describe my attitude towards music. And it's OK if it's hard, because anything in life that's worth doing is hard.
"I'm guilty as guilty as anyone, of wanting certain things or wanting to be in a certain place right now," he concludes. "But we're building something, and building something takes time. I'm learning to enjoy the journey, and I think we all are."
It's said that a great band is like a gang or perhaps a family, united by music, sweat, passion, and blood. That is certainly the case with Matrimony, an exhilarating new band whose interpersonal connections run far deeper than your average combo. Fronted by the husband and wife duo of Ashlee Hardee Brown and Jimmy Brown, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based band are accompanied by Hardee Brown's talented brothers, Jordan and CJ, resulting in an intuitive collaboration that is both immediately affective and utterly their own. "MONTIBELLO DRIVE," the band's eagerly anticipated debut album, takes its title from the Hardee family abode, a bucolic homestead where multiple generations of friends and family all sang and played together. Fraught with collaborative chemistry and determined artlessness, songs like "Last Love" and "Obey Your Guns" ring out with Matrimony's astonishing communal spirit, their tight harmonies and intuitive musical telepathy born of true love and a shared lifetime.
"We have this understanding among each other that we don't always have to communicate with words," says Hardee Brown. "And that just naturally comes out when we're all in the same room, making music together."
The Northern Irish-born Brown initially made his way to the States via China, accompanying a real estate developer friend on a business trip that wound up in Charlotte. He played guitar in a fellow Belfast ex-pat's band while simultaneously working on his own songs with a rotating roster of local musicians. One of them, a certain Jordan Hardee, suggested Brown meet his sister Ashlee, herself a gifted singer/songwriter. The two hit it off from the jump, co-writing a song their very first time together, ultimately tying the knot in July 2010 in North Carolina. As they continued to pursue their respective musical careers, both soon realized that there was little point traveling separate roads when they should in fact be sharing the journey.
"It really wasn't about anything other than us wanting to be together," Brown says. "We realized that there wasn't much point in being together if we were both going to do music separately. So we decided to make music together."
Matrimony began their musical life as a duo, performing in clubs and cafes around Charlotte. Brown veered from electric guitar to acoustic, while Hardee Brown adapted her indie influences to fit a folkier frame. 2010's "THE STORM & THE EYE" EP was quickly recorded, earning the couple considerable local acclaim for their melding of rock, country, gospel, and the great Irish and American folk traditions. To replicate the EP on stage, Matrimony absorbed other musicians and friends into their live sets, coalescing with the official membership of Ashlee's brothers CJ (banjo, mandolin) and the aforementioned Jordan on drums.
"Both my brothers put their own spin on it, just with their own talents and musical abilities," Hardee Brown says. "Once we finally found that mesh, the band took the course we'd always imagined it would."
Matrimony performed relentlessly, sharing the stage with a diverse range of acts from Langhorn Slim to Passion Pit. They refined their distinctive sound by cutting a series of demos, both at home as well as with producer (and Interpol drummer) Sam Fogarino at his Normal Studio in Athens, Georgia. In July 2012, the band headed for Nashville to finally begin their full-length debut, this time with Jay Joyce (Brandi Carlile, Cage the Elephant, Eric Church) at the helm. The sessions had barely gotten underway when a mighty summer storm hit Music City and almost put the kibosh on the entire project.
"We were in the studio and this huge BANG happened," Brown says. "Everybody's ears popped, but we knew it was just lightning so we just kept working."
When Matrimony and Joyce eventually emerged, they were shocked to discover that the lightning strike had in fact sparked a tiny fire in a bird's nest on the home studio's rain gutter. Five smoldering hours later, the eave was well and truly ablaze.
"I jumped up on the roof with a hose and we started trying to put it out," Brown says. "But the flames would not go down, they were just getting higher, so we jumped off and called the fire brigade. By the time they got there the whole roof was on fire."
Matrimony returned to Charlotte while the studio was repaired, reconvening in September to resume recording. Fortunately, the sessions went without further natural disaster, with Joyce capturing the band's on-stage intimacy by recording most of the album live in the studio.
"It was really enjoyable," Brown says. "It felt like we were recording downstairs at our friend's house. I think Jay understood where we were coming from. It felt like he was another band member really."
The songs of "MONTIBELLO DRIVE" reverberate with memory and feeling, embodied in both the band's layered instrumental interplay as well as the Browns' individual talents for powerful, evocative lyricism.
"This record kind of sums up where we've been," Hardee Brown says. "We all grew a lot, just living there, so there's a lot of emotion that runs through the songs."
Brown points to his beloved's haunting "Giant" as the album's defining moment. "There's just some kind of magic on that one," he says. "Everything about it, the words are a little dark, it's got this section in it that's really vibing and cool, I just love playing that song."
"I think it's one of those songs that feels really genuine and really real," Hardee Brown says. "Just the fact that I was able to write a song that captures who I am as a songwriter and put it on an album like this means a lot to me."
For her part, Hardee Brown returns the compliment by noting Brown's buoyant "Southern Skies" as one of her personal favorites. "That song speaks a lot to where we are and how we grew up," she says. "Plus it's always fun to play live."
Having made an album that sings of home, Matrimony are now poised for life on the road. This band of lovers and brothers are keen to bring the sublime songs and extraordinary character of "MONTIBELLO DRIVE" to the stage, where their camaraderie and connection come full to the fore.
"We just want to write great songs and we want to play," Brown says. "It's not about anything else. We love traveling together and hanging out, there's no bigger dream for us than just being able to write great songs and play them as much as possible."
"Me and my brothers, we always knew we wanted to be in a band together," says Hardee Brown. "I guess it's worked out. Everything just fell into place."
THEY MET. THEY FELL IN LOVE. THEY WROTE SONGS.
THEY FOUGHT. THEY MADE UP. THEY BROKE UP. THEY WROTE SONGS.
at a time when for most it would be the end of a relationship, for The Falls this feels like just the beginning…
Almost subconsciously The Falls have documented their whole relationship in their songs. The love, the betrayal, the heartbreak. While at times it is hard for them to wear their hearts so openly on their sleeve, for The Falls, it has been a huge part of their songwriting. As Stevie Nicks said "devastation leads to writing good things".
In the fallout from Valentines Day, The Falls decided that rather than wallowing in self-pity they would put their heartbreak to tape. So they pulled out their little tascam 4-track portastudio, which, with all its tape wobbles and noise, aptly captured the fragility of their hearts. These fledgling recordings were just the beginning of what has become their debut EP 'HOLLYWOOD' (out now through MGM Distribution).
In late 2011, The Falls hit the studio with producer Tony Buchen (Old Man River, Andy Bull, WIM, Washington) to record 'Hollywood'. The Hotel Hollywood in Sydney, has featured so strongly in their lives that it was inevitable that it would manifest itself in this way. For most of 2010 and 2011, it was where they could be found playing each week at a little, somewhat undiscovered, night of free music that emerged from the back streets of Surry Hills called Folk Club. It is also where they met, where they found their sound and where they wrote these songs.
In this intimate setting, the connection between these two onstage was palpable. Their emotionally fueled live performances are compelling to watch, sometimes heartbreakingly so, garnering reviews such as "intoxicating melodies and gorgeous harmonies" and "(their) strength lies in their ability to convey raw emotion and wisdom in their lyrics".
Buchen managed to imprint some of this Hollywood magic on each track, recording the re-verbs for the EP down in the bowels of the hotel, in the downstairs men's toilets. So, each song has on it a little Hollywood porcelain re-verb or 'pee-verb' as they've been calling it.
Having toured nationally this year with Of Monsters And Men (Iceland), Passenger (UK) and Avalanche City (NZ), The Falls are fast developing a very impressive live resume which also includes performances at the Surry Hills Festival, Peat's Ridge Art and Music Festival, Gulgong Folk Festival and Nunnup Music Festival, as well as shows with Lior, Husky and Georgia Fair.
Having also shared the stage with one of their idles Graham Nash, when he was in Australia on tour with Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Falls have had an incredible year.
With an unmistakable sound, barefoot collaborators and best friends The Falls are gently making a name for themselves in 2013