Begonia – Lady in Mind (and on the Rise)

Alexa Dirks aka Begonia has cut her teeth in Winnipeg’s rich music scene for many years now.

She was a part of the harmonious a capella group turned alternative-rock outfit Chic Gamine and has now begun her solo venture under the moniker Begonia.

Begonia recently released her debut EP, Lady in Mind—an elegant five-song collection.

The lead track, “Juniper”, starts things off with a jolt. The music’s beat bounces in and Dirks’s vocals carry the track along nicely the rest of the way.

For the next four songs, she slows it right down and takes the listener on a saunter down her winding, soothing path of swelling synths and syncopating percussion.

This past week, Dirks performed with Royal Canoe at the red-carpet premiere for the motion picture Lovesick, which was composed by Royal Canoe’s Matthew Schellenberg.

Schellenberg wrote the soundtrack and featured great Winnipeg musicians in it, such as Matt Peters (Royal Canoe), John K. Samson (The Weakerthans), and Begonia.

Begonia performs with the Royal Canoe boys quite a bit and has written music with Schellenberg under the alias Courier News. Let’s hope some new material from them will surface soon.

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An Impromptu Album Review

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My brother, Will, texted me during class today and simply told me to listen to Relient K’s latest album, Air for Free.

Before I go any further, if you haven’t heard of or listened to Relient K… give “Mood Rings” or the Mmhmm album in its entirety a listen—my early teenaged self appreciates your hesitant compliance.

Anyway, I was confused because Will’s text wasn’t the usual, “Hey, check out this new album, it’s great!” comment. It was as if I was doing him a favour by listening to the album. Sure enough, I asked if he thought it was good, but he clarified that he hadn’t listened to it at all. He was wanting me to listen for him.

Will read that Relient K’s Air for Free was surprisingly good (considering their previous album, Collapsible Lung‘s poor reception) and knew I had easy access to it via Spotify. I was to perform the litmus test for his purchasing decision. Or maybe he was just being painfully frugal and wouldn’t buy it before knowing its quality… *grimacing face emoji.* I didn’t dwell on it.

I was interested in where the group’s sound stood anyway, so I accepted the task and listened to the album on my bus ride home.

True to Relient K form, the first four songs are lyrically light, humorous, and musically fun. This continues throughout for the most part, but the album does take a more meaningful turn. Eventually, it got beneath the bubbly surface and revealed a theme of relationship, belief, and love.

The group went back to what made them successful in the first place: An honest and emotional writing approach about personal belief and ‘everyday’ observation.

Stepping off the bus, I walked home toward the eye level sun, still listening to the album. I thought of our family road trips back in the day when we listened to Relient K endlessly. My brother and I would belt it and harmonize to their slowed down, melodic bridges.

It dawned on me that Will didn’t tell me to listen to this album because of a frugal purchasing decision. He was hoping Air for Free would evoke the same feelings and memories we had all those years ago. Music like smell brings out memories, and oh can it ever be good for the soul. Music mixed with a pinch of nostalgia is a powerful thing, people. Reminisce on special music memories and rejoice.

Now I’m on a Relient K binge…

Thanks, Will. Much love.

Here’s the album for my Spotify kin.

Air for Free was released in July of this year and is Relient K’s eighth LP.

~

This blog post was inspired by Woods Fines’ heartfelt post on his relationship with his brother. If you want a touching read on brotherly love, head on over and read his blog—What If He Didn’t.

(Blog Challenge: Free week)