Above all else, Tim Wilson and Ryan Carbary have the beginnings of something great. The duo Wilson sings and Carbary plays guitars perform as Ivan and Alyosha, a mellow pop band that takes its name from characters in a Dostoevsky novel. And much like the Russian author, these guys are serious about their art: They took two years to write, produce and record The Verse, the Chorus, Ivan and Alyosha's debut full-length. The end result was an album of sing-along and clap-along melodies, driven by Wilson's incredibly honest vocals and Carbary's jangle guitars. The catchy "Easy to Love," for example, has earned its title. The song's simple guitars and chorus Wilson sings, "You're really easy to love/And I can't take it/My heart is aching" followed by a pitch-perfect whistled refrain has the makings of an instant hit. But that song succeeds because of its simplicity: Its just brushed drums, Carbary's gentle strums, and some smartly placed claps, augmented by Wilson's beautiful voice and makes-it-look-too-easy vocal range. It's when the duo attempts to manufacture a bigger sound by adding a second guitar or background "oohs and ahs" that the band's pop formula falls flat. The end result begins to sound a little like Maroon 5, and seriously, the music world does not need another Maroon 5. What it does need is more honest, heartfelt music, something Ivan and Alyosha definitely have to offer when the band members stop trying so hard.
Fri., Feb. 6, 9 p.m., 2009