Band of the Day

2012.01.23

Ivan and Alyosha

A soulful, intimate folk-pop quartet with a literary edge
So tell me truth don't tell me lies, I've seen the truth inside your eyes.
lyrics from Beautiful Lie

Ivan & Alyosha (pronounced “eye-van” and “alley-oh-sha”) are a folk-pop quartet from Seattle, Washington, and are named after two characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel, The Brothers Karamazov. Founding members Tim Wilson (vocals, guitar) and Ryan Carbary (vocals, guitar) began playing together in 2007, and released their debut EP, The Verse, The Chorus, in 2009. Their first brush with national recognition came from the song “Easy To Love,” which was an NPR Song of the Day in 2010. Shortly after releasing their EP, the duo expanded into a quartet with the addition of Tim Kim (guitar, vocals) and Wilson's brother, Pete (bass, vocals). Ivan & Alyosha's sophomore EP, Fathers Be Kind, was released in early 2011. It was self-recorded in Carbary's parent's barn in Snohomish, Washington. The band is currently touring around North America.

Seattle's Ivan & Alyosha (pronounced “eye-van” and “alley-oh-sha”) are not your typical folk-pop quartet. Their name comes from characters in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, a novel that rests heavily on philosophical debates about God, free will, and mortality. Like the novel, the band isn't afraid to explore these themes throughout their sophomore EP, 2011's Fathers Be Kind. The song “Glorify” starts with a Dylan-esque harmonica introduction, that emphasizes the folk part of folk-pop, which leads into lyrics like, “Glorify the Lord my son, with your whisky and your gun.” It's almost like a Johnny Cash-inspired gospel song, if Cash was “The Man In Flannel” instead of “The Man In Black.” While songs like “Glorify” touch on religious themes, others stick to more straightforward pop themes of love and life. “I Was Born To Love Her” is honest and tender, with lead singer Tim Wilson declaring in his sweet croon that, no matter what the circumstance (“If the sky should fall,” for instance), he wants his wife to know that he loves her. “Everything Is Burning” starts out with gentle acoustic guitar-picking, letting Wilson's warm, soulful vocals take center stage. Slight orchestral touches flutter in and out, amidst occasional background vocal harmonies of “mmm's,” “ooh's,” and even a whistling refrain. The result is a gorgeous array of music that washes over you like a warm summer rainfall. Though Wilson is the lead vocalist, the three other members (Ryan Carbary, Tim Kim, and Pete Wilson) of Ivan & Alyosha also provide vocals. “Living For Someone” best showcases their striking ability to meld all of their vocal ranges seamlessly, as if it's one otherworldly voice that can somehow hit a multitude of notes at once. With a more uptempo start, and a hand-clappin', foot-stompin' beat, this is one of the catchiest tracks on the EP. And with so many sumptuous layers of instrumentation, it's hard to believe that the EP was recorded in Carbary's parent's barn in Snohomish, Washington. Without the frills of studio production, the result is a captivatingly intimate collection of songs that are soulful enough to melt the hearts of even the most jaded music lovers.