Hang out in Portland, Oregon long enough and the scene it exudes just soaks into your being. I’ve been there twice and while the breweries and clubs are the main draw, it’s the creativity of the scene that truly reels you in.
Take Aleck & Ivy, for example. On the surface, another seemingly cut and paste musical duo but, as with most Portland establishments, dig deeper and what you get is something that transcends “cut and paste” or “typical”.
What Aleck & Ivy create is a marriage of hip-hop and soul and electronica yet not lending itself to be labeled as any one of those things. To steal from Winston Churchill for a sec, they’re a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. It’s as simple as that.
Still with me? Good. Because the musical journey we’re on is about to get even greater.
“Stuck in the Mud” is just beyond…..anything. Beginning with Ivy Etelle’s profound yearning, the song builds to a triumphant bravado that redefines trip-hop until fading into the ether. Until “Cold Soul” rears its beautiful head and you find yourself scratching your head and wondering what glorious musical adventure you suddenly find yourself on, that is. More straight hip-hop than electronic prowess meshed with a fancy vocal delivery a la Massive Attack, this track hits all the right notes.
“Medicine” is all that and a bag of Voodoo Doughnuts mixing Wu-Tang beats with Illadelph Halflife soul as Ivy delivers lines like “Broken cartilage helps me bridge the bruises but there’s no better medicine than making music” for maximum potency.
“Missty Blue” eases into a sweet groove early on as Estelle echoes Woogmaster’s sentiment adding sweet flourishes to his smooth delivery. By the time “Lilacs” pops up, though, you’ll be thanking the music gods in the sky or the dark lords of the underground that you discovered the exquisiteness of Aleck & Ivy.
“Happily Ever After” settles into this gorgeous coupling of Woogmaster’s melodic side paired with Ivy’s sweeter side to create a conundrum and keep listeners on their toes yet again while “The Cycle” actually shreds (Thanks to guest Billy Mickelson) and accentuates the gloriousness of Aleck & Ivy’s songwriting and lyrical savoir faire.
Troll Aleck & Ivy here (Where you can also check out some live clips of the duo) and here to find out when the upcoming The Freak Beneath album will be released but in the meantime, you can grab your very own copy of Sticks in the Mud here.