by Conner Tighe “This digital life was not for them. Not in a mean way, they meant no offense. It’s not you; it’s them, and they needed more. They didn’t know what that ‘more’ was, but they needed it, so they went to find it, and this is that.” From a band that started as a small group of believers and friends, The Wonderlands have jump-started their music career with their first album This Digital Life. Lead vocalist, guitar player, and Ball State student Miles Jena befriended bassist/vocalist Adam Steele in the eighth grade. “We started as a two-man band called We Thee Ubiquitous and wrote folksy/indie music. We did that for a while but were unsatisfied because we could never play big rooms or events,” says Jena. Since then, two has grown into five band members. Jillian Gavigan provides keyboard/vocals, Derek Johnson lends his talent with drums, and Patrick Oakes plays guitar and vocals. This Digital Life is more than another album in the alternative/indie world; it’s a story of these five members coming together to tell an important message about young love and becoming more in the present rather than the trend with technology.
“Free Falling” in passionThere is an absolute passion and aesthetic charm in every track. With atmospheric appeal and digitizing vocals, the message becomes ever more apparent that The Wonderlands know what’s happening with young love. “Morning, Mourning'' shows genuine hurt and resilience in fighting with ourselves when it comes to love. The track talks about how love affects us as people, and just as we lose ourselves within love, we find ourselves when love ends. There is mourning of what once was both within us and within our partner. Yet, as the band implies, it’s all a part of growing up. The track provides a brilliant, emotional message of hurt and hard truths that appeals to listeners.
A new beginning for folkThe Wonderlands have established themselves as a folk/indie band with clear inspirations from jazz and coffee shop music alike. This Digital Life features some collaborations that show The Wonderlands have connections in high places. Nothing is accomplished without friends, and this album is no different. Track six, “Feels Like,” stands out among the rest of the songs due to the collaboration with Saint Lavender and Trey Campbell on this track. The song is a definite jazz phenomenon with a sound that’s soothing and worth repeating on the playlist. The work of collaborations and lyrics behind these tracks are hopefully opening up a new world of Folk music. If this is the new future of small bands emerging into the music world, keep it coming. There is little room for criticism when it comes to this message of solace without technology enveloping our lives and being present in the now. Having friends that believe in you and support your dream is what The Wonderlands are all about. The music is an honest presentation of talent and folk in a new age.
Getting lost in This Digital LifeThis Digital Life contains a message of losing oneself to life and priorities that many people can relate to. Finding yourself again while maneuvering school, friends, and other activities is stressful but comes with perks: love, a passion for music, and friendship. “The meaning behind This Digital Life is that I was searching for answers as to how to live in this digital age. I was extremely frustrated with the fast-paced short-attention-span life I was living, feeling like I wasn’t going anywhere and was trapped by ads and everyone trying to grab my attention,” says Jena. While getting lost may be a dreadful thing, The Wonderlands show that getting lost is the best way to be found. This Digital Life makes listeners rethink their lives and ponder their experiences with every note. This five-member band is trying to be something different and breathe new life into a repetitive genre that many of us know all too well. The Wonderlands are here for a new age of music and are here for their fans. They know technology has become a dire need in our lives, which severs real connections that we all might create otherwise. This piece of art is a clear sign of standing strong together with a message of clarity and community. Top Tracks: Feels Like Let’s Take a Ride Anthem Recommended if you like: The Lumineers The Wallows Mumford & Sons
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