I’ve been super blissed out for the last hour. You may be asking me, “Why, Kate? Why are you so blissed out? Is it the beautiful, warm rainy day? Is it the quiet house while the children you nanny are sleeping so peacefully? Is it because your morning consisted of running around the house dancing to Peter Pan music while wearing fairy wings? Is it because you ate some delicious vegan tacos for lunch? Is it because you’re going camping this weekend? Is it because you’ve mastered the hula hoop?” The answer is yes, yes to all of these? I have mastered the hula hoop. And do you know what the perfect soundtrack to being perfectly blissed out on a rainy day is? Mike Mains and the Branches, of course.
Mike, Shannon, and Nate are the voices of Mike Mains and the Branches. Texas raised and Michigan living, this sweet tree (?), vine (?), bush (?), has bloomed with some truly wonderful blossoms and the fruits of their labor are ready for us to indulge. The taste is unique, artistic, and calming. Their first album, “Home” was released a few years back, after which they toured nationally with Relient K, HelloGoodbye, and others. Their second album (which we are featuring here today) was entirely fan funded and started recording last year right about the time their van and trailer was stolen. The rocky beginning to this album must only have improved its quality, it is even better than the first one. I believe that their sound has matured so perfectly (like red wine or good cheese). So check out Mike Mains (aptly named) sophomore album, “Calm Down, Everything is Fine”, and bliss out a bit yourself.
The album starts right off with my favorite song, “Played it Safe”. It starts off with some rhythmic speak-singing. The guitar in the back reminds me of stone, echoey and steady. The music then leads into some gorgeous, emotive screaming (I know that word conjures up the wrong sounds, but I can’t find a better, more accurate one. I promise, it’s perfect, just give it a chance.) The crecendo wraps around you, guitars, voices, emotions, then it’s quiet and over. It leads perfectly into the next song–the joyful anthem of “Everything’s Gonna be Alright”. Again, it’s rhythmic. It’s groovy, a little island-y, without an ounce of tropical-ness. The words and music are reassuring and gentle. The instrumentals are perfectly operated. Perfect rhythms on guitar, wonderfully soft keyboard sounds. The vocals range from beautiful singing, to woodwind sounds, to shouting. The whole thing is just a gorgeous example of rock and roll.
“Noises” starts off “I’m sick and tired of all these noises in my head. I can’t seem to make them go away, my dear.” The guitar conveys just enough noise to convey all of the emotion necessary, without actually being noise guitar. There’s some great distortion in there–I love it. The vocals soar on the bridge, then restore to calm and slightly desperate on the chorus.
“Where Love Dies” tells a story. It’s a sad story, but a good one. It’s a story everyone needs to hear. There is damage, failure, and desperate love, desire for change in another person but helplessness to change them. “This isn’t a place where good girls hid. This is a place where love dies.” There is hope. Perhaps one day, the broken, beating heart will grow into something beautiful and love will be restored.
The album finishes with the title track, “Calm Down, Everything is Fine.” This song is a beautiful story of redemption and homecoming. There is the betrayal of a father who welcomes home his son, a wandering traveller out on the road, brothers who hold us up when we are week. Calm down, everything is fine, kids. “These are the stories of our lives, the stories never die.” The peace is shattered in a joyous crescendo of guitar, strong voices follow proclaiming time to talk about life with Jesus and a beautiful future ahead. The lyrics and emotion in this anthem is making me cry happy, blissed out tears. I love the imagery and the proclamation. This is my other favorite song possibly ever.
Mike, Shannon, and Nate are touring the midwest this summer (however, not close enough to me). Check out their music and their tour dates. Share in the essential Mike Mains and the Branches experience and feel all of the blissed out life emotions you care to feel in forty minutes. This album will stay in a treasured place to be brought out for dinner parties and celebrations