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Last week was EXHAUSTING. I like to think that it was because of all the dancing that I did to The Naked and Famous, but in reality it was because I had an epic BC reunion in Long Island. And as any Eagle knows, BC students love to have a good time, especially after spending an excruciatingly long time apart.
Okay, maybe it was only two weeks.
Needless to say, my belly was full of delicious food, my heart was full from some much-needed lovey-dovey college friend time, and I left the island sunburned and sleep deprived.
To say that I’m taking it easy this week would be an understatement. The weather is supposed to be absolutely beautiful, which in Pennsylvania terms means low humidity, and I have zero obligations outside of starting “Game of Thrones” and running off a week’s worth of Italian food.
When it came time to find a band to teach to my loyal students this week, I knew that it needed to be something chill, easy going, perfect for accompanying my much-needed time on the hammock and screamed, “Play me in an open grass field while you stare at the sky and contemplate life!”
However, much of today’s lesson also deals with a bigger concept: the need to explore and stretch yourself. (Warning: this blog will now get extremely profound. Prepare yourselves.)
Now I know it sounds cliché and typically applies more to joining a new club or taking harder classes, but if you want to be truly educated in the world of music, you need to get out of your comfort zone. Honestly, my go-to band to fit the above description would have been along the lines of Mumford & Sons or Jack Johnson. However, the biggest obstacle we face when becoming educated, whether musically or otherwise, is settling for old information.
I’ll be the first to tell you that Marcus Mumford is a god and that your music library should be stocked with every single song that he has ever recorded, but I realized that M&S are home for me, and sometimes you need to leave home to pursue education.
Really, though, I'm not exaggerating about Mumford. If you haven’t discovered them already, I implore you to leave right now and to not return until you’ve indulged yourself.
Welcome back! Hopefully you’re not too overwhelmed to experience the greatness of this next band, because let me warn you, it takes a few listens and an open mind to really appreciate it, but that’s what learning is all about, right? Meet M83!
Lesson #3: Accept bands for who they are.
I’m not gonna lie; when I first heard M83, I wasn’t a fan. I thought their electronic sounds were just plain weird, their instruments were too ethereal for my tastes, and I felt uncomfortable as I listened for inspiring lyrics which never came. I wanted them to be something that they weren’t and this is what ultimately held me back from experiencing them fully.
There are three main things about M83 that make them incredibly, beyond any shadow of a doubt cool: One, they’re French. They are from Antibes, which is located in southeastern France on the Mediterranean coast. Hot.
Two, they named their band after Messier 83, one of the closest and brightest spiral galaxies to Earth which is visible with binoculars. French astronomers who lounge on the beach when they’re not making killer music? I’m definitely interested.
Three, they’re defined as a shoegaze band, a style of alt rock that came out of Great Britain in the mid-80s. And get this: the name comes from the tendency of the bands to not move much during live shows and appear to be in a detached, introspective state, like they were gazing down at their shoes.
Long story short, M83 is anything BUT conventional. They’re different, they’re interesting, and yet they still fulfilled my need for a low key, relaxing music session on a hammock in my open grass field (In reality, I’m sitting at home in front of my TV, but a girl can dream).
They’ve been around a long time, since 2001, and have since recorded six studio albums. Their style can best be described as electronic, using lots of reverb effects, loud, distorted guitar, and employing soft spoken vocals. It’s very dreamlike and, to be honest, almost impossible to sell to you through words. You’ll just have to listen and decide for yourself.
You’ll probably recognize their most recent and popular single, “Midnight City,” from the London Olympics previews:
Here are some of my other favorites, “We Own the Sky,” “Moonchild,” “Caresses,” and “I’m Happy She Said.”
Yes, it’s a bit out there. Yes, you would never hear it on the radio. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it?! Some may describe it as hippie-ish, some may say it’s not even real music, but the fact that it’s relaxing, dreamy and easy makes it beautiful to me. Sometimes that’s what we really need after a long week – music to fill the background and let us wander freely into the grass and out of our own heads for a while.
So I guess that, in a way, this particular blog has two lessons. Am I allowed to do that?! Ah, who cares. I am the teacher after all, and I can make my own rules.
Lesson 3.1: Let yourself shoegaze every once in a while.
Feature photo courtesy of nasa.gov.