Material: Ivy Wood, a fantastic sludge-rock duo consisting of Julien Baptiste and Dennis Nillsson, have long been one of LA’s best-kept secrets. However, it seems the secret’s finally starting to make its way out, as they’ve landed a coveted opening slot on a tour with Charming Liars, and they’ve amped up their light show, promotion and stage presence in a way that longtime IW fans haven’t seen out of the alt-rock twosome before. Their new tunes, including the gritty, hauntingly beautiful “Bleed Me Clean––which was a recent pick on Spotify’s “Fresh Finds” playlist—have a delightfully dirty, southern tinge; like a much more thoughtful, evocative and murky Black Keys. They’re truly a ‘90s lover’s wet dream, with vocals reminiscent of silverchair’s Daniel Johns, crunchy guitars a la Nine Inch Nails, and an overall rawness and honesty that went missing with the grunge era.
Performance: One thing this band has nailed down is vibe. They’ve always managed to put on a pro-level show, especially with their lighting, even in their fledgling stages. Though Baptiste remarked that they had some technical issues on stage (they’ve been trying to master a program that allows them to control their own light show), you would never know it. Baptiste and Nillsson are purposeful in their movements. Not showy. Reactive when the music calls for it. The only complaint would be the distance between the two band members on stage. Because of how far apart they were from each other, it created a bit of a disconnect, and Baptiste had to walk quite a ways if he ever wanted to interact with Nillsson.
Musicianship: Baptiste’s guitar work has always been second to none. A master of tone, Baptiste is able to wail away on guitar just as well as he does his vocals. Also impressive is his stellar independent motion, having the ability to shred complicated riffs all while singing equally difficult vocal counterparts. Nillsson is an equally artful drummer and gives Ivy Wood that lazy, sludgy movement indicative of this genre of music.
Summary: Ivy Wood is on a great path, doing a fine job of bringing in the ‘90s nostalgia without sounding too throwback. It’s only a matter of time before you hear their tunes during a chain gang scene or something equally audacious in an edgy TV show or film.
Players: Julien Baptiste, guitar, vocals; Dennis Nillsson, drums