Posted in Blogging, my thoughts, Tbt, the madden brothers

The Madden Brothers – Throwback Thursday

Two articles I wrote last year about the Madden Brothers. Enjoy. 

By Marly (@thepiesendure)
“I feel like this is the happiest day of my life, everyone in Perth smiles.” – Joel Madden in Perth, 7th November, 2014
Benji and Joel Madden are the twins who, rightly or wrongly, are the recognisable face of Good Charlotte, that one band that was everyone’s teenaged anthem raiser.  Don’t lie, you all blasted The Anthem and sang it Karaoke style in your rooms.  (And, yes…I love Billy and Paul as much as the rest of you.) 
You could be forgiven for thinking that they became big names because of Joel and then Benji’s appearance on Australia’s The Voice, but they have been well loved by Australia for much longer than that.  With five albums under their belts with Good Charlotte they have done well stamping a distinctive sound on the music scene of the noughties.  However, as they’ve grown older, matured and learned a lot in their journey through life – with Joel becoming a father, Benji an uncle – they decided they wanted to go back to where they began.  
The twins hail from Maryland, US where their illustrious career started off in a suburban bedroom at the tender age of eighteen (probably even younger).  Best place to start a music career, am I right?  
Benji and Joel speak of their journey from that bedroom to California, which was their ultimate dream.  “If we get to California, we’ll make it.”  
According to Joel they hitchhiked to California, just him, Benji and Benji’s acoustic guitar.  Though Benji is quick to correct his twin by telling audiences in Australia, that they ‘had a friend with a car’ so no hitchhiking occurred. 
When they arrived in California they started the band Good Charlotte, which brought them moderate success.  Just kidding.  With friends, Paul Thomas and Billy Martin they embarked on the biggest journey four small town boys could experience.  With five studio albums under their belts you would be hard pressed to say they do not know the business.  At the end of their tour cycle for the fifth album, Cardiology the boys took a well-earned break from the band to pursue other projects and family life.
During this period, between when they took a break from Good Charlotte, Benji and Joel continued to produce and write music, not only as a duo but with other artists.  They have collaborated on several dance/hip-hop projects, written for, and written with bands such as 5 Seconds of Summer, All Time Low, One Direction and with artists and friends such as Pharrell Williams (of Happy fame).  
Joel and Benji also found time to be in Australia for the reality singing show, The Voice, meaning they have spent the better part of three years actually living in the land Down Under.  They have performed at many a Football [NRL and AFL] final and TV spots, and have become, in the eyes of the adoring public, honorary Australians.  
And then, with some prompting by Pharrell William, they embarked on a new project as The Madden Brothers.  Returning to what inspired them when they were growing up, as Benji mentions on their website bio, they wanted to just write songs that were true to who they were.  Without the face of a band, just their voices and a guitar.  And, so they began to write the record that I believe truly defines them at this stage in their journey.
Through The Voice it gave them opportunities to perform while on tour with Keith Urban and to stamp their distinctive character across the Australian music scene.  They also returned the favour, after releasing their debut album as the Madden Brothers, by taking two of Joel’s team members on their Greetings From California Tour, Danny Ross and Frank Lakoudis.  
I believe this is one of the things that sets them apart on the world wide music scene.  They appreciate music, for music’s sake.  To them it is an art form and a way to express what is going on in their world.  They did it with Good Charlotte, and now they are doing it as the twins.  
The Madden Brothers have always been exactly that, really: Two young men who wanted to escape from the mundane and bring music to the masses.  
Now, at the age of thirty-five, I believe they have succeeded.  
Go buy Greetings From California; you will not be disappointed.  And, if you ever get the chance, go see them live.  Experiencing them perform the songs from GFC and from their Good Charlotte back catalogue, was an absolute delight.  
Greetings From California Tour
Crown Theatre, Perth 7 November, 2014
By Marly

Let me tell you about the best concert I have been to in my last twenty-nine years of life.  That is correct, The Madden Brothers impressed me.  Which is more surprising than you could know.
To be honest, while they were in their Good Charlotte days, I was in no real hurry to see them live.  Though I loved the studio albums, I always preferred when the twins performed their songs live acoustically as I thought that showcased their voices more appropriately.  I changed my mind about wanting to see them live when Greetings From California came out, and after watching them on The Voice, and so when they announced their Australian Tour I was quick to snaffle some tickets.  
I surprised my friend with seats that were very close to the stage, four rows back, the closest we’ve ever been at a concert.  And, they did not disappoint.  
The concert was opened by Melbourne band, Red Ink, an alternative Triple J find that gave a first impression to remember.  The lead singer’s moves were something to behold.  The energy and obvious enjoyment the band exhibited were a great lead in to The Madden Brothers.  With catchy songs and an infectious attitude they had me dancing in my seat.  
By the time they finished our anticipation level was high.  They bowed and thanked us for being a great crowd and then the crew started to set up for the Maddens’.  
Let me just say one thing about the setup.  Unique.  They basically had footage of adverts from, I’m guessing, the late 70s/early 80s looping on the large screen backdrop.  California style.  Set the scene for the whole concert which was really a foray into the life of The Madden Brothers, through their music.  They began with Dear Jane and ended the show with We Are Done.  (See what they did there?)  And, punctuated the show with Benji’s “story-time” and the twin’s banter.  
Highlights for me were when they performed The Eagles’ Hotel California, with Voice contestant, Danny Ross and Amnesia by 5 Seconds of Summer.  
There was one funny incident that I want to highlight, where someone was yelling out “I love you forever!” when Joel was trying to talk and Benji basically told the person to be quiet so they could talk.  Everybody laughed during that exchange.  It was great to see Benji and Joel interacting with the audience.  It definitely gave an intimate feel to the concert.  
Overall the experience was one of the best I’ve had at a live concert.  Definitely recommend that you go see them, they put on a beautiful show and Benji and Joel’s harmonies…heaven.  
Greetings From California Tour, Crown Theatre, Perth 7 November 2014 anecdotes

Posted in Christian Album of the Year, Hawk Nelson, Music, my thoughts

Diamond in the Rough – 2015 Album of the Year Nominee – Part 1

Diamonds – Hawk Nelson

Introductory thoughts
There’s “Christian” music, and then there’s Christian music.  The former has the label of Christian but most of the actual music doesn’t touch too much on the truth of Christianity.  Sure, the members of the bands of that genre are probably followers of Christ, but the music has increasingly secular themes.  
The latter is truly Christian in theme, vibe, storytelling nous.  The faith of the creators of the music infuses everything.  Interestingly, when I first heard any of Hawk Nelson’s music, I would have classified them in the former category.  However, with their 2013 offering Made and now their latest album Diamonds they have cemented themselves firmly in the latter classification.    
Made renewed my love for Hawk Nelson.
Diamonds cemented their place in my heart as the best Christian band out there.
I still think it’s kind of ironic how I became a Hawk Nelson listener.  Simple Plan has influenced my music collection a lot.  Who would think they’d lead me to my all time favourite Christian band, though? And the members of Hawk Nelson were inspired by Simple Plan as well.  
Daniel Biro (bassist) said in an interview in 2013, “Simple Plan was a big influence on me as well.  I loved going to their shows in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area and Warped Tour etc.  What a great live act.  Very entertaining, and some quality, catchy pop punk rock songs.  I liked Untitled a lot.”
Anyway, I digress.  I want to share with you my thoughts on the album Diamonds.  
As you well know, I don’t really do reviews.  This will be more an opinion piece.  But, that makes sense right?  Because the enjoyment of music is a subjective experience.  And everyone has different feelings and experiences when listening to exactly the same music as someone else.  
Before I begin my thoughts on each individual song, though, I should mention how I even stumbled onto the album.  I wasn’t even aware that Diamonds was released this year until I was listening to 98.5 Sonshine FM (Christian radio here in Perth) and the second song off the album, Drops in the Ocean happened to air.  That surprised me, but I also instantly fell in love with the song and that lead to me discovering the rest of the album.  It caused a lot of excitement for me, especially as I’m still waiting for Simple Plan’s 5th album.  You could say Hawk Nelson is a great second best… (Maybe even better?  We’ll have to wait and see…)
One other thing, I really really want to see this band live….and I’m kind of semi-jealous that my fiancé got to do that last year at EasterFest.  Though I did get to do an email interview with the bassist Daniel Biro in 2013 (incidentally that’s where my earlier quote above was from ;)).
Anyway, enough of that, moving on to my thoughts on the album itself.  
Here are my thoughts on the first 5 songs  of the album.  I will share the rest and a concluding thought in part 2.

The title track opens with a strong drum beat that heralds the beginning of the whole album.  Sometimes when I hear the opening track of an album, I wonder why the band chose the particular song as the first song.  However, with this song I am left with no doubt.  Hawk Nelson made the right choice in using the title track as the first song.  The message they’re sending is a firm and faith-filled one.  They want to make it clear that God is working in our lives no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in.  And that God can use even the most broken people.
Oh the joy of the Lord
It will be my strength
When the pressures on
He’s making diamonds

He’s making diamonds
Making us rise out from the dust
He is refining in his timing
He’s making diamonds out of dust
He’s making diamonds out of us.

I love these lyrics, the analogy of us being dust and then God using the pressures in our lives to turn us into diamonds is a very beautiful image to hold in ones mind.  Because it is so true.  
This song sets the tone for the rest of the album, preparing the heart for an injection of joy and the promises of God and that everything He is and does is good.

Drops in the Ocean
This is the first song from Diamonds that I heard.  The song is narrated from God’s perspective, which makes for a powerful message.  He says, “If you wanna see how much you mean to me/Look at my hands, look at my side.” A reminder of the blood that was shed on the Cross for each of us.  And then he repeats, “I am for you, not against you” several times.  This is something that I cling to whenever times get tough.  The knowledge that God, who is so Holy, so powerful, loves me a flawed, fragile human being…that’s just amazing.  

Just Getting Started
You know that saying “it’s not over until the fat lady sings”, well I think the first line of this song alludes to that; We’re stepping into the ring, won’t let that lady sing/it’s over when we say it’s over.  A clever way to open a song that seems to me to be talking about their own personal journey as a band.  
Their previous album Made was quite a departure from their earlier work.  Not only was it more explicit about their faith journey, the style of music became more pop rock than their earlier work which was more pop punk.  

Diamonds is even more pop influenced and the influence of their faith is so strong and I believe this song refers to the fact that this is only the beginning of the musical journey in this direction and that we should expect more of it it in the future.
Live Like You’re Loved  
This song is a proclamation of God’s love over us and that we need to remember that He is completely for us.  It talks of the fact that God values every single one of us and through His grace He has taken away all shame, all guilt and “gave us a reason to sing“.  
Go ahead and be who He made you to be.  

God has given us permission to be our true selves.  The self that He says we are.  
Live like you’re loved
Walk like you’re free 
Stand like you know who He made you to be
Live like you’re loved
Like you believe
His love is all that you’ll ever need

These lyrics are sung like a declaration, like a victory song and should be felt that way as God is the victor, over sin and death. 
And all because He loves us.
Sold Out
In a world full of followers 
I’ll be a leader
In a world full of doubters 
I’ll be a believer…
I’m stepping out without a hesitation 
I ain’t got nothing left to be afraid of.

I’m sold out 
I’m no longer living just for myself
Running after Jesus with my whole heart
And now I’m ready to show
I am sold out!”

This song has fast become my favourite. It’s an anthem to how I feel about my faith. I’m not afraid to show who I follow and where my trust is.  I’m going public (at least on social media, ha). 
“No trials coming against me
Can put a dent in my passion
They’re just an opportunity
To put my faith into action.”

These words speak so much truth; I’ve literally found that when trouble hits my passion for Jesus doubles, triples.  I find myself worshipping God even more in those moments and leaning in further to His Word.

Part 2 –

Posted in Blogging, my thoughts, my writing

50 Day Challenge – Day 2

Write whatever is in your head right now. 

Excuse my scatter brain thoughts.  I’m at the shops right now and thinking about not a whole lot actually.  My fingers are cold though, so it feels kind of weird typing on my phone (where I’m currently writing this post).   

There’s a long queue here and for some reason they closed most of the check outs and they had to reopen one because lots of people suddenly needed to pay for their shopping.  

My brain is tired right now. Haha.  Mum accidentally called me while she was fixing the bathroom curtain and it even left a voice message….just the sound of nothing.  Mum texted to say at least it wasn’t while she was on the toilet… Too much information?

My hands really are frozen.   Might have to start wearing gloves soon.  

Or maybe I could write with another part of my anatomy… Say…my elbow?

Write with my elbow?  Let’s see how that works on my phone…

Ghgghhgfg gggggfvb shhhhh cd ganged daffy gfffdsserthjjjjjkvgyy dodgy ugh fdaawetyhjjihbvc dffgggggfgg judge fdsdchh Lilith cfddfg hjik afghan CFDs hjik addff hfs hajj gods Khufu hfs gim 
Did fid hahafgggeagv fos ghi God 

Bwahaha.  Typing with my elbow is fun. 

Posted in 50 Day Blogging Challenge, Blogging, my thoughts, sleep time at work

50 Day Challenge – Day 1

I’m going to start another blogging challenge, this one a bit longer than the other one.  I’m also not going to be so strict with the timing of my posts. 
This one is going to be a 50 day one, but I may take longer to do it, or I may take shorter.  It’s really just to inspire my thoughts and let you get a peek into my thoughts.
And without further ado…I’m going to start with a post that isn’t a part of the 50 day challenge.
Instead I’m going to talk about rest time at work with the children.  Yesterday, I almost put myself to sleep while patting one of the kids to sleep.  I know I was probably really tired because the weekend wasn’t really restful, but it made me think.  Maybe we need to introduce nap time for adults in work places? Even just short periods of time?  Because I know that for me 15 minutes of having my eyes closed and not doing anything actually helps.  
A little cat nap.  I mean, I’m not saying we should have 3 hour siestas like the Greeks do, but I think it would be beneficial if we could have a rest period during the day.  Not a lunch break, but an actual rest period.  I’m sure we would be more productive throughout the day if it became an option.  
Because, I know I do become less productive at a certain point in the day.  And I’m just going on autopilot.  If you asked me if I did anything of any consequence from around 4 pm I’d probably say no.  But, if I could have a nap, maybe that would change.  There has most likely been studies completed in this area, but right now I’m not awake enough to sift through what they say about naps during the day.  I’m just writing from what I’m feeling.  
Picture of something I hate

Well, okay here’s 1 of the 50 day challenge.  And let me just say that I think  ‘hate’ is a very strong word, so I’m going to post a picture of something I strongly dislike.
You would think that this would actually be easy.  But, to be honest I don’t think I have many things I dislike.  And the things I do dislike you can’t really share photos of, if that makes any sense.
I think I especially dislike people who try to guilt you into feeling certain ways, for  example when it comes to the whole vegan/vegetarian debate and the slaughter of animals for food.  So a picture like this…really gets under my skin. 

Do, you seriously think that’s going to change people’s minds?  I mean, I’m sure it will change some people’s minds. But, even after seeing some horrific videos of cattle being slaughtered over seas that still won’t make me turn into a vegan.  
As the daughter of a doctor I know the benefits of eating meat and humans are meant to be omnivores.  Not vegetarians and definitely not vegan.
I’m not going to discriminate against people who are.  And there’s nothing wrong with the choices people make for themselves, but people who make others feel guilty and judge them for eating meat?  That really isn’t the way to try and make people change their eating habits.  
(Same with people who eat meat and judge vegans and vegetarians). 
And it’s not like vegetarian meals are boring.  I’ve tasted vegetarian pizzas that are way better than meat lovers pizzas…. 
So, that’s not an excuse for not being vegetarian.  But to be honest, I love the taste of meat way too much to stop eating it.  
But, anyway, I dislike people who guilt trip other’s about the choices they make.
Posted in Blogging, my thoughts, social media

Social Media

Sometimes I used to look up the Facebook page of my senior school crush.  Is that weird?  Probably.  

I think social media has a lot to answer for. It has definitely made my attention span shorter, I guess, and I feel contributes to the impatience many people exhibit now.  We have all this instant news and information at our fingertips and to what gain? 
How does social media enhance our lives? (Yes, I am aware of the benefits of social media.) Would our time not be better served by actually talking to people face-to-face?  Spending quality time with them and not our phones?
Don’t get me wrong.  Technology is useful and we have made great strides in our world with what we are capable of doing.  It has its benefits and I don’t think that should change.  But, sometimes I feel we need to take half a step back and just be. With others.  With ourselves.  Without the phones and computers.
I still write in a journal with a pen, albeit my handwriting has suffered somewhat due to prolonged use of a keyboard to type with.  I also still read proper books, though I do have a Kindle for ease of reading when travelling.  
What I think is essential is that we teach the younger generations the joys of real interaction with each other.  Not online, but going over to each other’s houses, playing at the park, swimming in the pool, riding bikes, playing games (card and board games or trivia or any of those sorts of games).  
I should follow my own advice more.  I do read a lot now.  There was a season where I was doing more writing than reading.  Perhaps getting back to full-on reader mode will help my writing.  
But that’s a tangent to my main topic here. Social Media; maybe it’s time to remind ourselves what it was actually created for.  
Think about the name: Social Media.  It’s social and it’s media.  Now let’s consider the fact that normal news media usually report headlines, or news of interest and not every mundane bit of information that passes in a day…perhaps we should go back to only sharing our social media headlines and not every little thing that goes on in our lives. 
Just a thought. 
Posted in Blogging, Life tips, my thoughts, tips

Marly’s 15 Top Tips for Doing Life

I turn 30 this year, and I’m also going to get married this year, so I feel that I’ve lived long enough to give some tips on doing life well.  At least up to the age of 30.  

And really these are subjective and might not work for everyone, but hey, it’s what’s worked for me.  So…  Here we go.  In no particular order.  
15 tips to doing life.
1.  Be grateful for the little things
2.  Surround yourself with people who you trust and will grow you – not just lift you up, but will help you learn as you go through life.  Sometimes constructive criticism is necessary.
3.  Be that person in 2 to others around you.
4. Go for walks in nature 
5. Smile – even if you’re feeling down, if you smile you will actually start to feel better 
6.  Keep a journal or blog, even if it’s just one word or sentence describing how your day went or what you’re thinking or feeling.
7. Play/enjoy life 
8.  Learn an instrument/Sing in the shower

9.  Volunteer/serve your community in some way.  
10.  Pray (as a follower of Christ this is important to me)
11.  Read a good book
12.  Go to concerts/plays/shows/musicals/anything arts related
14.  Travel 
15.  Enjoy your work.  Even if it’s just the little things. 
Bonus:  Find someone to do life with. (My fiancé is the one person I want to spend the rest of my life with, learning how to do life even better together)