Enduring several record contracts, shifting musical tastes, and more than a few near-hits over the past 15 years, New York City-based dream-pop trio Ivy just may be the hardest-working band you’ve never heard of. Chances are, though, you’ve heard of bassist Adam Schlesinger’s other band, Fountains of Wayne, or his songs for movies like That Thing You Do! and Music and Lyrics. So, why should you like Ivy? First off, check out that pic of singer Dominique Durand above. What, you need more? Sheesh …
Jangle-Pop Roots: Wearing their Smiths and shoegazer influences on their sleeves, Ivy began as more of a guitar-based jangle-pop band, as tunes like “No Guarantee” (download) and “Don’t Believe a Word” fit right in with the growing mainstream acceptance of alternative music in the mid ’90s. Later works like “I’ve Got a Feeling” piled on the layers of guitars, creating beautiful, shimmering, three-minute pop masterpieces.
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Synthpop Atmospherics: As the trio became more comfortable in their own skin, their sound expanded to even dreamier landscapes, adding synthesizers and orchestral flourishes to the mix. Chillout classics like “Keep Moving” (download) and “Thinking About You” provide the perfect soundtrack for a summer’s day on the Pacific Coast Highway or laying on the beach.
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Superb Taste in Covers: Over the years, the band has shown impeccable taste in covering other people’s songs on b-sides and bonus tracks. Acts from Steely Dan to the Blow Monkeys have benefited from Ivy’s exquisite interpretations, including frequently name-checked Popdose crush Nick Heyward. The group covered his “Kite” (download) on their Guestroom EP, which collects all their covers in one handy stop. Also included â€” two versions of the Cure’s “Let’s Go to Bed”:
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Label-Skipping Survivors: Ivy has shown great patience when it comes to record labels. Starting on indie Scratchie, then on to Seed Records, Atlantic snatched them up to the big leagues with 1997’s Apartment Life, only to drop them soon after. Sony swooped in, rereleasing and remixing Apartment Life, giving the single “The Best Thing” (download) the rare opportunity to be worked by two separate majors. Unfortunately, the public didn’t bite, so the band then signed to Nettwerk, then Minty Fresh, then back to Nettwerk. Phew.
Promotional Consideration: Despite all the record-company drama and minimal radio airplay, Ivy has managed to get their music out there via licensing in many movies and TV shows, as well as commercials. “Edge of the Ocean” (download) alone has been used in episodes of Alias, Grey’s Anatomy, Veronica Mars, and LAX, as well as in a commercial for Senseo coffee makers, so chances are you’ve heard it and didn’t even know it.
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Ivy has been quiet since 2005’s In the Clear, but their resilience proves that fans shouldn’t have too long a wait until the next great release. Hopefully.
For Fans of: the Sundays, the Smiths, the Cardigans
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