♫♩ A Musical Review & A Love Story ♥

Everyone has a favourite band. A favourite song. A favourite quote.  For me all of those things come from the same source. Mumford & Sons. The band, in my opinion, can do no wrong. They are flawless, in every sense of the word. There are a number of reasons why I love Mumford. First and foremost, they are spectacular musicians, song writers and performers. You can see, hear and feel the passion that goes into making their music. Secondly, Mumford is the reason I met Lucas.

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You see Lucas and I actually went to the same high school, two years apart (for the record, I am older). We had mutual acquaintances, I had heard his name a few times in passing but we never crossed really paths. In August of 2013  I went with a group of friends to see Mumford play at the Gentlemen of the Road  traveling concert festival. The festival was essentially two days jam packed with live musical acts with Mumford as the closing act on the Saturday night.

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The venue was about 2 and a half hours west of Toronto. I was traveling and camping with a group of 4 girls. Myself, Karin, Sam and Alicia. When we arrived on the Friday afternoon we went straight to setting up camp. That was easier said than done. Do you know how many poles come with a camping tent? So many! Since it was going to take us a while to set up Sam decided to call in reinforcements. Two of her friends from high school who were also at the show for the weekend, Lucas and his buddy Taylor.

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No joke, as they wandered over to our tent disaster I looked at Lucas and thought “who is he? He is very cute. I must know him.” Luckily the feeling was mutual. The rest of the weekend kind of went by in a whirlwind of music, beer, sunshine, dancing and laughing.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

When I think back on that weekend I feel like Lucas and I were inseparable. I think he was by my side from the moment I met him to the end of the weekend when we had to drive home again. But somehow we managed to avoid having a picture taken together. The whole weekend was almost too perfect. If someone had told me that the whole thing was a dream I would have believed them.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

I think there is something magical about music, especially live music, that brings people together. In a lot of ways Lucas and I are major opposites. He is a free-spirited, spur of the moment kind of person. I am meticulous planner and goody-two-shoes. I like to think that we have influenced each other for the better. He has helped me to relax and enjoy the moment and I think I have helped him to find a stronger sense of direction in terms of his goals and such. But I honestly don’t know if we would have had that connection, that spark, if we had met anywhere other than at a concert.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

So you see, I feel as though Mumford & Sons brought Lucas and I together. Naturally I was devastated when they announced their hiatus in September of  2013. They had just given me an amazing weekend, an connected me with an amazing person and all I wanted to do from that moment on was go see Mumford play live music, with Lucas at my side.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

After a very long year and a half they have finally made their way back onto the music scene with their brand new album, Wilder Mind, released on May 4th.

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At first I was really nervous about this new album. In their time off Mumford ditched the banjo, which they were essentially famous for, in favour of a more classic rock inspired sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some classic rock, but to me Mumford is synonymous with indie, and rock isn’t indie. The first single dropped from the album was titled Believe. I’ll be honest, on first listen it felt like Coldplay and I was confused. It was a great song but it didn’t sound like the band I knew and loved. So when the new album finally came out I was expecting to be “meh” about it.

Oh! How happy I am to say that I was wrong! I’m not sure exactly how to explain this but I’ll try my best. There are a number of good songs on the album, there are a number of great songs, and there are a few just okay songs. But as a whole, as one piece, from beginning to end, listened to in the order they intended it is perfect. The album tells a story, the songs compliment each other, the music ebbs and flows through the entire work. While the banjo is noticeably not present the music still feels like Mumford in the vocals, the orchestral background music and in the lyrics. I beg of you, please do not listen to this album on shuffle. Hear it how Mumford intended it to be heard.

I think Mumford and Sons successfully accomplished what Taylor Swift also accomplished with the release of her most recent album 1989. Both Mumford and Swift managed to change their sound without compromising their music or betraying their loyal fan base. I feel that they were able to do so because they made a strong, confident 180. Instead of writing songs, they curated entire albums. And that, I feel, is what makes all the difference. It is a magic that we are lacking today. Because of iTunes we have the “luxury” of picking and choosing songs, rather than listening to entire albums. So a lot of artists make a few great singles and really poor albums. Although with the renewed popularity of vinyl records this is hopefully going to change.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out Wilder Mind, do it now! And if you have, what did you think?! Share in the comments!

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The Party Animal

I learned some very valuable lessons this weekend; the most important being that I am not a party animal. I wanted to be, I tried to be, I made a valiant effort but I just couldn’t hack it. The party life is not the life for me. I know this because this past weekend pushed me to my party limits. It was 4 days, 4 parties, 1 choral concert, and almost no sleep. And as each party came and went the supporting evidence grew, I am not a party animal.

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Thursday – Staff Party 2.0

You may remember that I had a staff party on Monday. Well, on Thursday I attended a smaller more intimate staff party for my department only. There were about 15 of us in total, we played some board games, we ate deep-fried pub food, and we had free drink tickets. Oh, did I mention that it started at 12:30 in the afternoon… By 5 pm I had consumed 3 glasses of wine and a shot of whiskey. Thank goodness I ordered a coffee before I got on the train or else I would have gotten home at 6:30 pm with a hangover.

Life Lesson: Always order a coffee after day drinking. Always.

Friday – The Holiday Rager

Lucas & I were super excited to host our first party in our shared living space on Friday night. We had food, we had beer pong, we had tequila, but at the end of the day it isn’t any of those things that make a good party, it is the people! And we also happen to have amazing friends, so it was a pretty epic party (not to brag or anything…). To be perfectly honest the end of the night is kind of a blur but rumor has it that things wound down around 4 am. As I said, epic.

Life Lesson: The party will always be epic if your best friends are there.

Saturday – The Choir Concert

I wish I could tell you that I slept in until noon but reality is I woke up at 6:30 in the morning (just two hours and 30 minutes after I went to bed) so that I could catch a ride into the downtown core. On Saturday afternoon my choir was performing, so I had to be there bright and early for rehearsal. Yes, it was just as painful as it sounds. It is times such as these that I thank my lucky stars for the invention of Gatorade and Advil.

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Life Lesson: Singing while developing a hangover is the worst kind of torture. 

Saturday Part 2 –  The Boyfriend’s Sister’s Classy Christmas Party

After 5 hours of rehearsal and 2 hours of concert I found myself with Lucas at his sister’s house. Her Christmas party was much calmer than ours, she had prepared a table of appetizers (the homemade spinach dip was to die for), a meal of Italian lasagna, salad and chicken, as well as a table full of deserts. In addition, her husband made sure that everyone always had a drink in hand. Almost everyone brought a Secret Santa gift and we had fun opening and stealing the gifts. I ended up with a box of sweets from Rocky Mountain Chocolate and Lucas stole a small desk fountain from his brother in-law, which he plans on wrapping and giving back to him on Christmas day. I had a lot of fun but by 11:30 pm my lack of sleep was really getting to me. I left yawning and I was asleep within seconds of putting my head on my pillow.

Life Lesson: A bottle of wine or an LCBO gift card will always be the favourite secret Santa gift. 

Sunday – Your mom’s best friend’s Christmas Party 

This is the day that was designed for staying in bed. Which I did, until about noon (it was glorious). However, on this particular day not moving from morning till night was out of the question as it was Lucas’s mom’s best friend’s annual holiday party. This means socializing with adults who you have never met and will likely never meet again. It means fantastic food and good quality liquor. And it means gravely embarrassing yourself at group pictionary. I really wanted to be polite and social but after one glass of wine I was ready to fall asleep standing up. I ended up standing next to Lucas the entire time, letting him do all the talking and smiling at the appropriate moments.

Life Lesson: Get some caffeine into  your system before this party, now I know for next year. 

Share in the comments! Are you a party animal? How many Christmas/holiday parties have you attended this year?