Wednesday, November 11, 2009

MewithoutYou - A to B Life

I had a hard time deciding whether I should upload this record or not. On one hand, it's on a bigger label, something I'll stay away from as much as possible on this blog but on the other hand it is a record that I feel too many people either don't know, or have passed on. (Largely because of the stigma attached to Tooth & Nail Records, a Christian Music Label and MewithoutYou's label). A to B Life is and has been one of my favorite records for the past 5-6 years. I listen to it almost daily.

To simply label MewithoutYou as a Christan band is somewhat shortsighted and unfair. Yes, they are Christians. Yes, they play Christian festivals and are signed to a Christian Label....and yes, they sing about Jesus. But where MewithoutYou distinguish themselves from other Christian music is they are not content with just believing in God and they are not evangelical. They are constantly questioning why they believe, if they should believe and whether they'd be happier not believing.

I've told this story many times, and many people reading this, have likely heard it, so please bear with me. It is part of why I love this band so much, and incredibly important in understanding what kind of band they are and more importantly what kind of lyricist Aaron Weiss is.

MewithoutYou played Harvest Moon, a now defunct Christian Music Festival in Edmonton a few years ago. Normally I wouldn't have gone, but I had to see this band so I braved the Festival. MewithoutYou took the stage, and played through a few songs. I was really impressed at their stage presence, the band tearing apart their instruments at a furious pace, singer Weiss dancing and careening about. In the middle of their set the guitarist experienced Guitar troubles of some sort. (Broken String? Bad Cord? I'm not sure) and Weiss began to address the audience as they rectified the issue. At first it was the usual banter. "How are you guys doing?" "Is everyone having fun?" etc etc. A young kid, maybe 15 years old yelled "Praaaiiise Jesus" from the back. Everyone cheered. It was at this point that Weiss could have acknowledged the comment, reaffirmed their love of Jesus, and quite honestly, he would have won the crowd over completely and probably sold double the merch that night. (Cynical? Maybe.) Instead he challenged the notion of praising Jesus. Here was a man, signed to a Christian label, standing in front of hundreds of rabid, young Christian teens hanging off his every word...and what words come out of his mouth? "Why would I praise Jesus? Jesus ruined my life." A few people clapped, obviously not recognizing what he had just said, a few kids stood there dumbfounded. He continued, "If I didn't believe in Jesus, I could act without consequence. I could act selfishly and drive a nice car and own fancy clothes...but because I believe in Jesus, I am not allowed these simple pleasures". It was at this point that I was dumbfounded. He was telling these kids that he was unable to be happy because of his belief in God, and while I understand he was talking about just trying to be a good person in the eyes of God, it made me realize how complex Weiss was. He easily could have taken the bait that night and no one would have thought less or more of him. I respect him so much for not taking the simple route.

Anyways, that aside, I guess I should talk about the music seeing as that is why people are here. This record is frantic and intense and an absolutely exhausting listen. Weiss rambles and shouts eloquently, moving between screams and whispers as if he's 2 people. The music itself is hard to label, at times touching on emo and hardcore, other times venturing into garage rock territory, and even at times have a quiet shoegaze vibe to them. I hate trying to describe this record...people just need to listen to it. If you like it, please please please look into this band more. Every record they release is completely different and unique, and definitely worth owning.
~AB (Sorry about the essay)

1 comment:

  1. So dark compared to the later discography, but yet incredible