Mike Mains & the Branches came back in 2014 with their newest album Calm Down, Everything is Fine, an impressive, 11-track, indie-rock record. Between frontman Mike Mains’ songwriting and “the Branches’” talents on their respective instruments, MMTB are tearing down the borders of mainstream indie rock and going a little more off the wall. Standout songs feature their runaway hit “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and also “Take It All,” both receiving a considerable amount of attention from RaidoU.
Calm Down, Everything is Fine (2014): 11 tracks, 37 minutes
If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by all the work and busyness in life, take forty minutes and crank up this record. On Calm Down, Everything is Fine, Mike seeks to take us back to simpler times so that we can relax and learn how to enjoy life.
“Played it Safe” echoes the frustration that a lot of people feel at the end of a long, hard day, but rolls right into “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” which makes you feel exactly that. “Noises” reminds us of “Played It Safe,” albeit in a more upbeat way, while Mike tells us how sick he is of the norm with much exasperation. “Slow Down” tells us to do just that, while “Take It All” admonishes us to use our words wisely.
Consequently, there’s some pretty good stuff on this album. The title track talks about Jesus wanting a significant part in our lives. In “Slow Down,” Mike says “You can travel the world / Just as fast as your feet can go . . . But like Arizona’s canyons / A hole in you remains.” “Where Love Dies” mourns a painful divorce, but longs for a renewal.
But there’s also some questionable content. Such is the case with “By My Side”: “Tonight when I fall asleep / I pray that you would come to me / ‘Cause I need you / By my side”, which might seem suggestive, but since Mike is married, it’s okay. “Burn” reads, “Oh my God, the world’s gonna burn” in the chorus. That could be interpreted as using God’s name in vain, but it also conveys a message that, without clarification, could be confusing to listeners.
While Home may have stuck to the traditional sound of indie rock, Calm Down, Everything is Fine veers into some unfamiliar territory for MMTB, but they do it well. “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” has a more poppy feel, while “Where Love Dies” and “Slow Down” utilize a lot of fingerpicking and ambient instrumentation. “Stones” is a slow, steady song, focusing mainly on the drums, but also interjects a bluesy guitar solo toward the end.
To say Calm Down, Everything is Fine is good would be an understatement. In fact, it’s one of my personal favorites. From the message of the album as a whole, to the solid instrumentation and the variety that MMTB have on this record, Calm Down, Everything is Fine is a masterpiece in indie rock. I would also highly recommend this album as a whole. 8.5/10.