Album Review :
Ives The Band - The Incredible Story of Mr. Birch

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Artist: Ives The Band

Album: The Incredible Story of Mr. Birch

Label: Independent

Release Date: 10/1/09

Reviewed By: Tyler Hess

Tracklisting:

  1. Funfair
  2. The Joker
  3. The Hero
  4. Archie The Equilibrist
  5. Mr. Birch
  6. The Ringleader
  7. Bye Bye Mr. Moon
  8. Colonel Maxwell
  9. The Lonely One
  10. Reprise

Sayings are funny sometimes.  They say you can’t judge a book by the cover, but they also say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Ives the Band has thrown a wrench in the works, however, by having the cover art be for an album instead of a book and the lyrics to back them up.

I don’t know how familiar the younger generation is with the wonders of old, where imaginative stories and wild scenes weren’t told over youtube clips, but rather by real men of mystery, those master connoisseurs of tall tales that roamed the streets of local fairs and carnivals.  The Incredible Story of Mr. Birch centers around such a time and place where stories and tricks were common place, but is used as an allegory that certainly has a specific meaning, but could easily be construed a number of ways that I would rather let the listener decide than spill the beans and either ruin the tale or look pretty stupid with my prognostications.

Musically speaking, the songs are generally a range of acoustic or key driven pop rock that can range anywhere from a Waking Ashland / We Shot The Moon track like in “The Hero” (which could easily be a hit on any top 40 list if they had the backing to support it) to the deeper melodies of a Copeland / Anchor & Braille style that could be found in “Colonel Maxwell”.  They can pull off either quite well, as the album’s mood gets darker as the tempo slows track by track.

Summary: I’ve listened to enough independent music in the last couple of years to realize why most people are drawn to the accessibility found in the big production pop music that can be found on the top 40 stations, but Ives the Band’s new venture is the reason I still give new bands a chance more readily than most of the people we know. (8/10)

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