It was time for the Okee Dokee Brothers to try something new. After a trio of Grammy-nominated albums the band dubbed their “Adventure Album Series,” including the Grammy-winning (and all-everything-winning) Can You Canoe?, what could they do as a follow-up?
Turns out, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, childhood friends from Colorado, now headquartered in Minnesota, know a little bit about winter. And so on their forthcoming album Winterland, the band sings songs about the season. Lest you think this is their “holiday” album, however, you won’t hear a bunch of songs featuring a jolly fat man in a red suit. Instead, the songs celebrate snow, family, and the passing of time. It’s fun, to be sure, but this album is slightly closer in tone to, say, George Winston’s December than Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
When I asked Mailander and Lansing what inspired them to take winter as the subject of their next album after the Adventure Album series, they said:
Our other albums have all been set in warm weather seasons and settings - canoeing, hiking, and horse-packing. As proud Minnesotans, we felt like we could no longer ignore the beauty and inspiration found in winter. We also knew that many people only associate winter music with the holiday season, and we wanted to the challenge that. We wanted to provide a soundtrack for the season that focused on subjects beyond the standard holiday themes. That challenge and the beauty of winter, made this album a natural next step for us.
It’s not often that I can say this phrase and literally mean it, but it’s true — with “Slumberjack,” one of the songs on the new album, you can hear the Okee Dokee Brothers as you’ve never heard them before: a capella! Talking about the song, the band says, they drew inspiration from the songs and shanties of Canada’s Maritime Provinces.
“We had never recorded an acapella song and wanted to show kids that you don’t need instruments to have a good sing out. All you need is some stomping, a strong chorus, and a good story. The story came from bedtime legends like ‘The Sandman’ but we gave it some North Woods flair.”
It’s about as celebratory a lullaby as you’ll ever hear. Lots of fun, and I’m pleased as punch to give the track its world premiere.
Winterland is out October 19th.
AND! Don’t miss the band’s list of favorite — and least favorite — things about winter after the track below.