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Ivy recalls '60s guitar rock, '80s pop
April 30, 2005, 1:43 pm

Ivy recalls '60s guitar rock, '80s pop

Jonathan Takiff. Philadelphia Daily News. Fri, Apr. 29, 2005

Ivy is the perfect name for the trio of Adam Schlesinger, Dominique Durand and Andy Chase. Slowly, subtly, this living entity creeps up and surrounds you, covers lots more ground than you ever anticipated and definitely pretties up the place.

Four years in the making, the dreamy, entangling new Ivy album "In the Clear" hints of trippy '60s guitar rock and '80s-style, synthesizer-driven shoegazer pop. Yet it sounds amazingly fresh and organic, sophisticated and worldly wise, with songs like "Tess Don't Tell," "Keep Moving" and "Ocean City Girl" that creep into your brain and never let go.

This is an album you can put in the shuffle mode with the coolest stuff from Brazilian Girls, Tahiti 80 or Zero 7. It works either as a shimmering background wash or in bold relief as music to study intimately, with its intricately layered guitar lines and pulsing keyboards, hook-happy melodies and recurring lyrical themes of romantic secrecy, isolation and regret.

"It's this balancing act between the mostly British stuff we grew up with - bands like New Order and Pet Shop Boys - and the classic '60s pop we love - the standard Beatles and Beach Boys influences," assessed Schlesinger, a guy you might also recognize from his more overtly rocking other band, Fountains of Wayne.

The magic fertilizer that really makes Ivy grow on us is front-and-center vocalist and song collaborator Dominique Durand. The whispery, achingly evocative French waif in these New Yorkers' midst, she brings that element of haunted, rueful, chanson-style singing to the party and makes Ivy a group with potentially global reach and commercial potential. (Think Bebel Gilberto, the Cranberries, Dido. Hey, it could happen again.)

"I'd like to think so, too, but realistically speaking, probably not," responded Schlesinger with a laugh to my optimistic thought of Ivy growing really big with this new CD.

He pointed out that the trio has been around and refining its distinctive, bittersweet pop for nearly a decade, and that "The Clear" is the group's fourth full-length album, not including the all-covers collection, "Guestroom," which came out in 2002.

"Every time we make a record, I think it has potential," said Schlesinger. "But that doesn't mean a lot of people will get to hear it. That's the hardest part. Music like ours, it really falls between the stylistic cracks."

More likely you've heard Ivy in the "Corners of Your Mind," to cop another song title from the new album. Their music has popped up on a number of TV shows and movies, most thoroughly scoring the Farrelly Brothers film "Shallow Hal." Ivy also has sprung up on the soundtrack (and even on screen) on TV shows like "Roswell," Stephen King's miniseries "Kingdom Hospital" and lots of those music-centric WB teen dramas.

Getting this threesome out to work their album by touring (with support musicians) is getting "harder and harder, since we've all had kids," shared Schlesinger. "We have to do it in fits and starts," including a short East Coast run that lands them at the Theater for the Living Arts on Sunday (May 1).

Plus, Schlesinger's got that other band (with a new Fountains of Wayne rarieties package due out momentarily) to worry about, while his colleagues are also involved in their own recording projects, Brookville and Paco.

"Dominique and Andy are married to each other," clued Schlesinger. "They live across the street from me - I can even see into their apartment from mine, which is kind of creepy - and their son and my daughter are best friends."

Also keeping them all hanging in their West Chelsea neighborhood is the recording studio Stratosphere Sound, which Andy and Adam jointly own with James Iha, guitarist from Smashing Pumpkins (and A Perfect Circle) and an important guest on the new Ivy album.

"Half the time we rent out the studio. REM, Ryan Adams and Secret Machines have been there and Depeche Mode is about to come in," said Schlesinger. "Stratosphere is one of the last real studios left in New York. The other half of the time, it's filled with our own projects.

"Having a studio is a blessing and a curse. It'a a total money pit and headache but also a great clubhouse. It gives you a place to work in that you know inside and out, so you're comfortable. But it also means you keep tinkering. It's been a long time between original music albums for Ivy, and we took about a year - in fits and starts - to get this one done."

Ivy, with Astaire and Stars, TLA, 334 South St., 8 p.m. Sunday, May 1, $13, 215-922-1011, www.theateroflivingarts.net.

Credit: Jonathan Takiff

Source: Philadelphia Daily News