Lately we’ve seen a surge in the popularity and success of artists thriving in the alt-country scene. There is something about the combination of easy guitars, unimposing drumbeats, and warm, imperfect vocals that is comforting and uplifting in the winter months. The laid-back, sunny sound serves as a promise for summertime, festival season, and lazy days spent (hopefully) on a beach somewhere. The proof is in the charts—The Lumineers debut, self-titled album was licensed to Toronto’s Dine Alone Records in 2011, after the group signed with independent label Dualtone Records, and in Jan. 2013 The Lumineers became the label’s first album to go platinum. It doesn’t seem unlikely that Dine Alone’s indie-folk up-and-comers Ivan & Alyosha are headed in the same direction.
The Seattle-based group formed in 2007 after founding members Tim Wilson and Ryan Carbary met and began experimenting with their breezy sound. They released their debut EP, The Verse, The Chorus in 2009 and secured a spot at the 2010 SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. For their next EP, Fathers Be Kind, which was released in Feb. 2011, Ivan & Alyosha welcomed two new members—Wilson’s brother Pete, and Tim Kim. The addition allowed Ivan & Alyosha to expand and complete their desired sound, and the results are positive in All the Times We Had.
The record starts off on an upbeat note with the fast-paced “Be Your Man.” The track picks up speed in an addictive foot-tapping, country song manner, and though incredibly simple, it remains catchy and cheerful throughout. The second song, “Fathers Be Kind” maintains and builds upon this theme, managing to keep from being overwhelmingly western by layering and contrasting electric and acoustic guitars and keeping the instrumental cycles churning.
Other noteworthy songs include “Easy To Love,” which was originally released on The Verse, The Chorus and reworked for All the Times We Had. The track is almost reminiscent of an early Killers song, with Tim Wilson’s vocals like a more relaxed Brandon Flowers, and the smooth, undemanding melody the perfect mixture of folk and alt-rock. The same expert combination is prevalent in “On My Way,” one of the more convincing rock numbers that expertly balances tempo and pacing to keep the energy moving. This same energy is captured in a country-infused manner in “Don’t Wanna Die Anymore,” which, possibly the song that most channels the style of The Lumineers, is a steady and lively track, despite what the title may suggest.
There is not one weak spot on All the Times We Had. Throughout the album, Ivan & Alyosha convey confidence and an ease that is translated to the listener. Each song offers something different, and at the same time the tracks fit together collectively as a strong unit of bright, unpretentious alternative music. Whether radiating rock, folk, or country, the album is a smooth and enjoyable journey that promises to lighten up the remainder of the wet months until we can enjoy it openly in the heat.
For more information on Ivan & Aloysha, and to listen to All the Times We Had please visit <www.ivanandalyosha.com>.