AKA: The Journey to Where the Ocean Meets the Sky, Where the Ocean Meets the Sky (Documentary)
Genre: Music Documentary
Year Released: 2014
Distributor: Wanderer Records
Running Time: 26 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: G
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Danielson: A Family Movie, Lomax, American Roots Music
-This documentary is featured as an extra in the Where Ocean Meets the Sky Visual EP DVD.
-The Visual EP can be streamed in this playlist from Lauren Mann’s YouTube channel.
-Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk are an indie folk band originally from Calgary, Alberta, but now currently based in Pender Island, British Columbia. They’ve released three full length albums at the time of this review. One of their biggest accomplishments in addition to touring across Canada and America is that they won the CBC Searchlight Contest.
-Their album Over Land and Sea was produced by Aaron Marsh. People should recognize him as the lead singer/multi-instrumentalist of the band Copeland. His other work in the producer’s chair involves bands such as The Myriad, Person L, Lydia, and he even produced Anberlin’s final album Lowborn.
-Pender Island, BC is outside of the mainland part of the province. The total population is over 2200+ people and it hosts the Pender Island Invitational which is a prominent disc golf tournament.
-Music Fan Bonus: Jay Christman (drummer) can be seen rocking a Five Iron Frenzy shirt.
I finally beat my last goal of 2019. That particular goal is to re-watch all my DVDs and digital movies and to review them. Whew! I made it just in time to beat that challenge. It’s been a long time since I reviewed a musical documentary, and this one involves a band I have a bit of history with: Canada’s own Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk. We go back since the final Cornerstone Festival in the tiny town of Bushnell, Illinois in 2012. I saw them busking in the middle of the festival grounds and got to hang out with them a bit. Later that week, they were about to play one of the major stages. Lauren’s ukulele strings broke before their set that day. I got a call from some number I didn’t recognize and it was from one of the members in the band at the time. I was the only person they knew who had a ukulele on site since they saw me carry my Cordoba tenor uke around the fest. I lent Lauren my ukulele and she was able to play the songs at the festival whenever she wasn’t playing the keyboards. If you don’t believe me, then ask her yourself about that show. It was a great event and I even got some video from that same show which you can watch over here.
Speaking of videos, her band released a visual EP where they set foot on Pender Island to make live music videos with new songs and re-interpretations of their previous work. The DVD contained a documentary in it, and I think it would be as good of a time as any to review it.
The Journey to Where the Ocean Meets the Sky involves behind-the-scenes footage of the band creating this ambitious audiovisual project. They arrive from their native Alberta to this idyllic natural environment to perform six songs for this EP. The locales involve coastlines, the forest, rocky ground, and so many other places to play their songs. Lauren Mann and The Fairly Odd Folk do their best to make the videos and music shine through in a habitat that is far different than any other music venue or festival they’ve played even in their native Canada. How will everything play out?
The Visual EP concept was something that I thought was creative as well as it sounding great. Seeing how everything lead up to it was certainly fascinating. I wondered how they were able to pull it off especially with the electric instruments and some of the terrain which is far from ideal for musical settings. Maybe a music video with a story, but not so much for a straight up performance or even a guerilla gig, if you will. Pender Island certainly looks beautiful and the cameras certainly capture it. I felt like I was transported to this wonderful part of Canada there. It certainly looks more pristine and cleaner than the town I currently live in and I’m sure Pender Island would put some of the nearby forest and nature preserves to shame around where I’m from. The band there had their own quirky moments with them playfully joking around, setting up everything despite some of the more difficult terrain, or practicing their respective instruments. It was also funny how each band member had different titles like having “hatmanship” and “beardmaster”. They feel like everyday people who like playing music instead of some arrogant rock stars which is also a huge plus. In or out of the context of the documentary, their music is certainly worth listening to. They have more straightforward acoustic songs, but they also use electric elements, and a good portion of their songs are pretty upbeat. They play indie folk without hipster pretensions or being too glossy in their songs like certain folk artists that want to play it both ways by being straight up pop (Ed Sheeran, Mumford & Sons, and The Lumineers? I’m looking at you!). Also, if you think all modern Canadian music is either Nickelback, Shawn Mendes, or god forbid…Justin Bieber, then please slap yourself. Canada has much better bands and singers that unfortunately don’t get that kind of exposure. Lauren Mann and The Fairly Odd Folk certainly are the real deal and this documentary does capture a good glimpse of what they are like as a band.
Some parts of The Journey of Where Ocean Meets the Sky get a bit fragile, and yes, I just referenced one of their songs. Much like Danielson: A Family Movie, there wasn’t that much conflict in the documentary. Sure, there are challenges like dealing with the amps, electricity, and placing the instruments in the right places (especially where they were on the rockier parts of the island), but there wasn’t anything too major which could disappoint some viewers. I thought the documentary does slow down a bit around the middle. It wasn’t boring, but I wished more would happen like maybe with some of the music involved. Some of you know that there are aspects of history that can affect my score and this involves the band lineup. Lauren is the only original member of The Fairly Odd Folk at the time of this review, so if you’re expecting to see them as a six-piece with the same people if you catch them at a show, then you’ll be disappointed. That happens with bands rotating members, but from there are certain aspects that get really awkward knowing how some relationship aspects are completely different than what was on this documentary let alone the Visual EP, and I’m just going to leave it at that from what little I know about one situation. This does make some parts a bit harsher in hindsight even though it’s an innocent documentary.
Lauren Mann: The Journey of Where Ocean Meets the Sky is still a great watch involving one of my favorite bands from the Land of the Maple Leaf. The production works with that naturalistic feel and with the different types of cameras. It was fun seeing a band act so organically and them wanting to do this ambitious multi-video project with their music. Pender Island looks amazing and I’m sure anyone would want to visit there. It was also a nice touch to see clips of them performing for the locals in an outdoor venue near the end. However, there isn’t much tension throughout the documentary and the line-up difference with today compared to 2014 can get very awkward. Fans of indie folk or acoustic music will definitely dig their music as well as their documentary. Recommended.
Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1-2 points if you’re Lauren Mann fan or at least a fan of folk music.
Subtract 1-3 points if you need your musical documentaries to have more drama in them.
-Very good visual production
-The Fairly Odd Folk are naturally likable and are totally real
-Lack of tension or drama
-Member changes get awkward in hindsight including one example that won’t be mentioned
-Feels a bit on the short side
Final Score: 8/10 points
Content Warning: Lauren Mann: The Journey of Where Ocean Meets the Sky is a safe watch for all audiences. The music is clean and the worst thing that happens is Jessica Christman (bassist) talks about getting sick and puking, but it’s never shown.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Lauren Mann: The Journey to Where the Ocean Meets the Sky is property of Lauren Mann. The DVD cover is from the Lauren Mann website and is property of Lauren Mann.