The band mewithoutYou is a group of musicians hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band consists of Aaron Weiss (vocalist), Mike Weiss (guitar), Brandon Beaver (guitar), Greg Jehanian (bass), and Ricky Mazzotta (drums). They currently have produced seven full-length records and four EPs worth of material. Their music has revolving themes of Bible stories, folk stories, and general philosophy on existential and relationship-based topics. Their music is difficult to characterize because it covers multiple genres. The sound they represent on each record changes ever so slightly. They have always had aspects of experimental and post-hardcore. Depending on the record, there are also more or less aspects of indie, alternative, spoken word, or folk. Several of their records have multiple instruments that are written for it.
I first came across mewithoutYou in the winter of 2009 in the bowels of my first episode of seasonal depression. I don’t remember much about those times, but I remember driving around with friends, talking about our problems, and listening to music. During this time, I came across mewithoutYou’s third record – Brother, Sister. My friend had a copy he bought from a local CD Store, CD World for any readers in southeast Idaho. I have since listened to this record countless times and have become a big mewithoutYou fan. For this review, I’d like to capture some of my favorite aspects from this record. These aspects are the vocal style, the lyrics, and composition style. These are general topics that I will write more in detail about.
Aaron Weiss’ vocal style is very peculiar. I’ve never quite grasped if there’s some sort of method to it because it’s so variable from record to record. His style on Brother, Sister is no exception. From one song to another it’s his sing-song spoken word folk-style clean vocals, to very post-hardcore yelling, sometimes both styles in the same song. The tracks “Yellow Spider,” “Orange Spider,” and “Brownish Spider” (The Spider Series) feature this more folk-style singing. Tracks like “Wolf Am I! (and Shadow)” or “In a Market Dimly Lit” feature more of the spoken word or post-hardcore yelling style. The variance in vocal style on this record is one of the most engaging parts. The way the vocalist uses these different styles to engage the lyrics wrote for the record present some of the most meaningful lyrics I’ve come across in my lifetime.
The lyrics of this record are incredibly variable as well. They range from general relationship philosophy, to more existential philosophy, to folk and Bible stories.
An example of general relationship philosophy comes from “The Sun and the Moon”
“Reference to the south side of the barn
I planted to the north in terracotta pots
Blind as I’d become, I used to wonder where you are
These days I can’t find where you’re not.”
An example of more existential philosophy comes from “The Dryness and the Rain”
“A fish swims in the sea
While the sea is in a certain sense
Contained within the fish
Oh, what am I to think!
What the writing
Of a thousand lifetimes could not explain
If all the forest trees were pens
And all the oceans ink?”
An example of Bible stories comes from “In a Market Dimly Lit”
“I’m a donkey’s jaw on a desert dune
Beside the bush that Moses saw
That burned but yet was not consumed
She’s a silver coin I lost
I’m the sheep who slipped away
We pray with fingers crossed
But you listen patient anyways.”
This band was one of my first experiences with multiple genres on a record. As I have mentioned, this band has aspects of experimental, indie, folk, post-hardcore, among other sounds. This record was insane learning experience for me because I wasn’t quite aware how much innovation could be put into composition on any record. This record has multiple instruments that were written for it. It’s as engaging to a musician who listens to it, as well as the inquisitive and perceptive listener.
One of the most important juxtapositions in the record are the lead out from “O, Porcupine,” to “Brownish Spider.” The former song mentioned ends on a high-gain overdriven chord. The latter song mentioned begins with a fade out of that chord into a melody on harp with the chords from the previous Spider Series songs. It really emphasizes the high energy as well as the small and intimate moments on the record.
This record is very engaging on many levels. Personally, the vocal style, lyrics, and composition styles were especially important to me. They have pulled me into mewithoutYou’s music and I have been a loyal fan for nearly ten years. I would recommend this record for anyone looking for a new and unique experience with music. I would recommend this record for anyone looking to expand their horizons in peculiar music, specifically if there is a prior interest in post-hardcore. The record has intense and heavy moments both emotionally and instrumentally, but it caves into small and intimate moments. Wherever the listener finds themselves within the arms of this record, they are sure to find something that will resonate within them.
Written by Paden Carter.