“...retro tinges of Simon & Garfunkel neatly laid between symphonic harmonies and melded with pop flair.” – Filter
“The Brooklyn-based duo fit neatly between recent cozy-pop faves The Whitest Boy Alive and Peter, Bjorn & John, working the same seam of homely beauty and prematurely autumnal sentimentality.” – Pitchfork
If you haven’t started your summer fixating on a new vice, it’s about time. This summer’s guilty pleasure? The infectiously good indie pop twosome known as This Is Ivy League.
If you haven’t heard of the band, you might recognize the duo behind it – Alex Suarez and Ryland Blackinton, of Cobra Starship fame. When they’re not busy touring the world and gracing the cover of Alternative Press with their side-project, they’re creating, well, really good music. So don’t be fooled by their super emo alter ego. Their blend of folky 60’s pop rock is a huge departure from the Snakes On A Plane” tunes.
This Is Ivy League’s catchy riffs have been gaining a lot of attention from various sites around the interweb including love from dot coms such as Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Paste, Filter, CMJ, The Deli, Idolator, New York Noise, and USA Today. The duo was also recently featured as one of L Magazine’s “Eight Bands You Need to Hear”.
The uninitiated can now revel in the perfect-pop that is This Is Ivy League’s first long player (STREAM) which features the mega smash hit song “London Bridges” (MP3). The accompanying video (LINK) for the tune has already been singled out by Pitchfork which said,”...the clip creates and sustains a soft-focus weirdness, borrowing all the elements you’d expect from a postmillennial Chad & Jeremy -- blazers, bicycles, merry-go-rounds, a park in autumn-- while adding a few new flourishes-- women in animal costumes, gently evocative use of color and pattern. Alex Suarez and Ryan Blackinton croon their crisp harmonies, finishing each other’s sentences and riffs, nearly symmetrical as they perform atop their pedestals for the animal woman.”
Obscure Sound hits the nail on the head in it’s review of This Is Ivy League:
“The album lives up to the potential of the excellent single (‘London Bridges’) (MP3) in several ways, the most prevalent being the engaging form of songwriting that the duo is able to craft using their pop-oriented mindset. The album’s tremendous opener, ‘The Richest Kids’ (MP3), was initially my favorite song on the album. It features a simplistically addicting melody that is complemented by the duo’s outstanding duet form, with flurries of guitars being a constant reminder of their shared musicianship. In fact, if ‘The Richest Kids’ does not become a radio favorite on several prominent indie radio stations by summer, I would be absolutely shocked. It just has that sort of radio-friendly appeal that coincides well with summery indie-pop, mainly attributed to the group’s stellar melodic comprehension.
As for my current favorite track, ‘Visions of Tokyo’ is an excellent throwback song that beckons ’60s pop. The comparisons to The Beach Boys are imminent and it adds a lot to the enjoyment factor, with the vocal comparison to Brian Wilson being very tantalizing. Both ‘The Richest Kids’ and ‘Visions of Tokyo’ are certainly a few of the most enjoyable tracks I have heard so far this year. And for those who prefer individuality to accessible hooks, there are certainly clear signs of innovation too; the spacey guitar riff at the end of ‘London Bridges’ and the impressive acoustical fingerpicking displayed on ‘Til the Day’ are just a few examples of how it would be ignorant to group This Is Ivy League with other conventional indie-pop bands. The latter sounds eerily similar to Simon & Garfunkel’s early work, and I mean that as an utmost complement. Be sure to take note that This Is Ivy League’s fantastic self-titled debut was released on Tuesday, as I recommend it wholeheartedly as one of the best debuts of the year so far.”
More Press For This Is Ivy League:
“This Is Ivy League offers crisp, pervasively hooky indie rock with a folky sense of melancholy. Dreamy is a word used too often to describe all kinds of music, but This Is Ivy League actually does whisk you instantly to a place of post-adolescent romantic longing.” – Time Out New York
“In a gritty borough known for it’s ‘artsy’ rock and ‘experimental’ music these two just take it back to where it all began, simplified pop music with infectious harmonies that echo in your head.” – URB
“Covert crew members on the Cobra Starship go undercover as twee-hugging indiepoppers.” – Rolling Stone
“This band is like the badass guy in high school that gets away with misbehaving all the time because he’s like totally hot.” – Vice Magazine
“This Is Ivy League sounds as though Belle and Sebastian had American accents, listened to a lot of Matinee Records, and figured that every song must be happy… if it were 1974 they would be giving the Carpenters a run for their money.” – First Coast News
“Beautiful, head-bopping, airy pop songs with gorgeous harmonies that echo Simon & Garfunkel and The Beach Boys.” – Tiny Mix Tapes
“…perhaps one day, we will be using Suarez and Blackinton as a benchmark for comparison, putting them in the same class as those aforementioned famous pop duos.” – Consequence of Sound
“Cherry songs pour from the guitars of this dapper duo, who wind harmonies around surf guitars for a light, pop-tacular springtime debut…” – CMJ
“It’s among our favorites this year…a perfect aural cocktail for summer” – Very Short List
“This will most likely be the sound of the summer in the upcoming months…” – Make Out Club
“Their voices are hushed and sweet, twining around each other in blissful harmony. The guitars are mainly acoustic and gentle, the drums and keys tasteful and carefully arranged.” – All Music Guide
This Is Ivy League Track Listing:
Stream The Album HERE
Release Date: April 1st, 2008
01. The Richest Kids (MP3) (LIVE)
02. Love Is Impossible
03. London Bridges (MP3) (VIDEO)
06. An Introduction
07. A Summer Chill
08. Modern World
09. Til The Day
10. Visions of Tokyo
11. Don’t Waste Your Love On Me
12. Bonus MP3 – Crown of Love (Arcade Fire Cover) (MP3)
More about This Is Ivy League:
In 1997, Ryland Blackinton moved from Wilmington, Massachusetts to Boca Raton, Florida with his parents and two brothers. An avid guitar player and trumpet player in his school band, Blackinton immediately found an acquaintance in Connecticut native, Alex Suarez. Suarez played in a local pop-punk band. Blackinton came to watch them play at an abandoned house where many of their high school’s bands would practice and perform. Suarez was a year older than Blackinton, which in those days seemed to be a big deal. Neither of them was particularly good at sports or academics but each was passionate about the guitar. Around this time Suarez got Blackinton a job at the local Jewish delicatessen. The two became close friends while discovering the joys of Jewish cuisine. Not cut out for the restaurant industry, Blackinton soon left the deli citing culinary differences and became involved in the theatre. Suarez continued to the culinary academy.
For seven years Suarez and Blackinton lost touch. Suarez had been playing guitar with the Florida-based Kite Flying Society while starting a series of short-lived private catering companies. Blackinton was finishing his BFA in Acting and playing guitar sporadically with Parliament/Funkadelic keyboard players Jerome Rodgers and Danny Bedrosian. Seeking success in their respective fields, they both moved north to New York City. Blackinton acted in a handful of classical plays at the Pearl Theatre Company and Suarez was working as a grocery delivery boy in Chelsea. Both struggled with low wages and creative stagnation. One day, the two were reunited on a certain unnamed internet networking service. Coincidentally, they lived just twelve blocks away from one another. After catching up for a few hours they traded music and agreed that they should form a band.
Blackinton had written a few songs which were heavily rooted in bossa nova and folk music. Suarez quickly learned the songs and brought a cohesive poppy edge to them. The culmination of the two styles produced a folky-pop sound that both were pleased with. In late 2006, the band were scouted by Gabe Saporta of Midtown to be in a side-project called Cobra Starship. Saporta wrote the hit song “Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)” for the b-movie wonder Snakes On A Plane. The success of this song lead him to bringing Cobra Starship into realization and asking Suarez and Blackinton to join the band. With a big push from MTV, the band has gone on to headline multiple world tours.
In early 2007, 60’s UK pop group Ivy League contacted Brooklyn’s Ivy League about its reunification. This lead to Ivy League changing its name to This Is Ivy League. Its self-titled debut full-length was released April 1, 2008.
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