I'm back after another long absence! Another Monday means more music! I hope to post an update on what's going on in my life later this week, but with my usual impeccable timing (block class week) we'll see how it goes.
Since the summer, there have been a slew of new albums released, and many of them far too good to give a mere shout out. So the next few Mondays I will be dedicating full reviews to some of these new releases. The first of which is August 6th's Winterwell by young indie vocalist Marie Hsiao (stage name "Mree").
Mree is a true indie artist, having self produced all her music including recording her first album Grow and filmed her own music videos (on her iphone) and financed her own tours. Like so many other artists today, her career began on the wonderful world of youtube. She began releasing covers of her favourite artists, even attracting the attention of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver when she covered Blood by the Middle East. Since then Mree has developed and tweaked her own unique sound. I stumbled upon her music last Christmas. Grow-a much more delicate, acoustic album- was the perfect sound to come home to. I would walk into my dorm room from the bitter ravaging of winter, switch on Mree's ambient vocals, turn on the Christmas lights, and the fragrant oil burner, and pick up a book or let the music lull me to to sleep for a couple hours.
Sophomore album Winterwell is a much more developed sound than its predecessor. Today it is difficult to categorize the genre that Mree's music falls into. Winterwell falls somewhere between Enya and Bon Iver. Usually when it comes to music I tend to seek out lyrically strong music such as the philosophically charged Jack Johnson, the poetry of Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers or Gabrielle Aplin, or the folksy musings of The Last Bison. However there is something to be said for artists who focus more on creating an atmosphere rather than shape their music around a clever phrase or thought. Artists like Bon Iver, Sigur Ros and Jonsi purposefully keep their lyrics vague or unspecific in favour of creating a unique sound that plays on emotion and ambience. Mree is very much in line with this musical philosophy and it shows in Winterwell.
While her first album was a more folksy, acoustic sound showcasing Mree's silky, sweet voice, this album experiments with a more techno, electronic sound, that cleverly layers vocals over contrasting beats and rifts. The folk acoustics are still there, but are mixed with a much more realized and unique sound.
The album opens with the signature track Into the Well which carries more of an Enya-like atmosphere. It's new, it's exciting, and provides a strong opener to the album. It's followed by Night Owls, a light, easy listener using soft guitar strums and later incorporating a light, cozy horn. To See the Light and On Echo are more busy and fast paced, using more vocal layers, increasing tempo with electronic percussion and synthetic strings. Monster is my least favourite track, probably because it does little to showcase Mree's creativity, either musically or vocally. It's a playful sounding track, but in my opinion throws off the otherwise consistent sound. The Search is a pretty, thoughtful duet with Mark Beasley, In the Morning finds its identity with Mree's folk roots, using acoustic guitar and banjo. Mree's voice is often content to float above the music, but she reminds her audience of her vocal strength in this track. Break My Heart and Lift Me Up breeze through, leading to the gorgeously simple, piano ballad Winter. Instrumental A Song for the Stars follows and the album ends with Mree singing along with the strums of an electric guitar in Lullaby.
Overall I loved Winterwell. I was surprised by the difference between Mree's previous work and this new sound, but it was a risk that paid off. Mree shows a creativity and self awareness that's sometimes beyond more seasoned musicians. Winterwell leaves very little to be desired and I would recommend it to any one in the mood for something a little different.
Hello blog world!!! It's been a while! I've been wanting to post about this music video for about a month now, however, literally every week since I've seen it something has prevented me from posting. From wireless break downs, to moving into the dorms (yes I'm back at Northland), to late night meetings, it's been a whirl wind!
Anyway, this video was just something I had to post about. If you haven't seen it get ready, because the first time I saw it, I laughed so hard I cried. Hopeless Wanderer is probably my favourite track from Mumford & Sons new album Babel, but now I can't hear the song without picturing the antics of Jason Sudeikis, Hason Bateman, Ed Helms and Will Forte! Thanks Mumford & Sons for not taking yourselves that seriously!!
As a side note, this video reminds me of another serious song put to a hilarious music video. Now when I listen to this song I can't help but do the actions! Because I'm feeling benevolent I've decided to post this one too! Hope you survived your Monday!
If you have been following this blog for awhile, you probably know what to expect from my writing, or maybe you don't. Of late I've been struck with a bad case of writers block. Maybe it comes from my reading other popular blogs, and wanting to conform to topics of interest which attract more readers. I think it also comes from a shift in my goals for writing.
When I first started We Are Okay, a lot of my friends from CBI were starting blogs of their own, and I kind of wanted to join in on the fun of keeping tabs on each other online. My first year of blogging consisted of stumbling onto the more extensive blogging community, and I found the joy of gaining followers that I didn't know personally offline. Following other blogs started to both improve and inspire my own writing.
However, these past two years I've started to notice a lack of inspiration. The renewed business of schoolwork and a shift in interests and life goals have kind of put a cease to any consistent writing on We Are Okay. Maybe you as a reader have sensed this.
I've tried to put elements into place to help bring back consistency to my blog. Some of you might remember my post after New Years here. In that post I tried to set some goals that would help me as a full time student to write more often without taking too much time to do it. While I've loved posting my Music Mondays, and I still have lots of plans for more "ridiculous posts" I found that instead of inspiring me, these posts put more restrictions on what I really want to write, and led me farther from my actual goals for this blog. I don't want to just mingle with the rest of hipster-dom in the blogging community. Like any blogger I want We Are Okay to represent who I am, my interests, my life, my thoughts, but more importantly I want this blog to showcase the most important thing about me; my relationship with Christ. Actually let me re-phrase that; I want this blog to showcase Christ (lets just leave me out of it!). I think part of the reason I've found my writing to be a bit stale of late is because it reflects what my devotional life has been. Some might find being at a Bible College a blessing and an encouragement, but for me it's been the opposite. Northland is an awesome place, but lately the debates about music, dress, the future of Northland, in short fundamentalist culture has been wearing out my soul. But that's a discussion for another day.
Why am I posting this at all? Some of you might have guessed where the title of my blog comes from. For those of you who don't, I'm not about to give the game away, but lets just say the title carries along the idea of wanting to recapture the aimlessness and simplicity of childhood along with the inescapable knowledge that those days are past, and the realities of adulthood and life are present. I like to write with my own blend of fun and cynicism, but I also want to be transparent and honest, and right now this is where I'm at in my writing and in my spiritual life. I'm writing this to try and stop this pattern and refocus my goals a little. I still want to write reviews of music, movies and art (my blog is a brilliant opportunity to pretend I'm an actual professional critic and writer), I still want to be ridiculous and funny, and I still want to post my over-editied brand of recreational photography. But ultimately I want people to see Jesus through my writing. I first and foremost write from a Christian, Biblical worldview and I want that to seep into all areas and topics.
I also want the freedom to write what I want and when I write it. This gives me a sense of freedom and helps me not feel guilty for posting less often than I or my readers (wishful thinking?) might like. I'm not sure if this makes sense to anyone reading but I do feel like I need this explanation to myself and my readers. I might never be one of those larger than life blogs with hundreds of readers, that posts three times a week, but instead I'm a real person, that lives a real life on and offline, and you know what? That's okay with me!
PS: I was going to post about my trip last summer, you may recall, but I thought better of it. If you want to to know about it just message me here and I'll email you more information.
I am very excited this music Monday because Jack Johnson is back!!! Jack Johnson is an old, old favourite of mine. He's a musician, philosopher, surfer, and I'm pretty sure his music is a genre in and of itself. I seriously have listened to him so much, I think I know every lyric by heart. However listening to him isn't as much fun these days without Liz Johnson to sing along with me! Anyways Jack is back with a new single and it's chill, beachy, forget all your troubles (but wait listen to what he's saying!) ambience business as usual! The new album comes out September 17, which is way too long!!!