Friday, April 10, 2015
mewithoutYou -- Catch for Us the Foxes
Catch for Us the Foxes is mewithoutYou's second album. It follows their debut (logically), [A→B] Life, which is a spastic rock record with plenty of seemingly random tempo and structural changes, and angst-filled, yelled vocals. That album is a blast. Their second album is something else entirely. In 2004 (more than a decade ago?!), in my end of the year list, I said of my ninth favorite album of that year:
Haunting, heart-breaking, tear-inducing. Aaron Weiss's spoken/shouted word delivery has only grown more emotional, while his band has evolved by combining their spasmodic post-punk with beautiful early 80s art-rock. Imagine their first album combined with the textures from the first five tracks of U2's "War" album, or simply imagine a dying rocky field in the autumn, oak's dropping fading blue and red leaves, while a voice echoing somewhere over the dim misty hills shouts about the decaying nature of the world and mankind, and the absense and return of Jesus Christ. A tough listen at times, but wow, wow, wow. The definite standout here is "Carousels" a song so tough to bear, a box of tissues is neccessary. Highly recommended, but you may not feel good when it's over.
After my first listen for this review, I wondered what the big deal was. I mean, my 2004 top albums list includes some works that on reflection, and sometimes for this "Every Album I Own Series," I have found to not be so great. Interpol's Antics? Like a shadow someone shined a light on. U2's How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb? A candidate for that band's worst album. I think when I finish this series, I'm going to post a "My Favorite Album's of the Year...Many Years Later" entry, just to see how much my opinion has shifted. But back to mewithoutYou...
After that first re-listen it was looking like Catch for Us the Foxes would be a likely casualty. Definitely not going to appear on any revised list...then I got depressed this morning for no reason...so I threw on Catch for Us the Foxes...
The reason Catch for Us the Foxes is so good is nearly intangible. First, the instrumentation is lovely. Who knew this band had these kind of performances in them after the first album? The guitars are so pretty, but still a bit edgy. Yeah, like the Edge. My old U2 comparison is still apt. I mean, on [A→B] Life, mewtithoutYou's Aaron Weiss straight up quotes "40," the final track from U2's War. War had to have been an influence on Catch for Us the Foxes' sound. Here's 1983 U2 side by side with 2004 mewithoutYou. Bono's A new heart is what I need/oh God, make it bleed! is certainly akin to Aaron's If only I could be the servant of all/no lower place to fall! Tell me these two bands couldn't have toured together.
Actually, don't tell me, I'm not interested in your objections!
The recording of Catch for Us the Foxes is also a big factor toward its success. The drums and bass sound like wood. Not wooden, as in stiff, but they sound like such an organic thing, again supporting my original proposition of trees shedding blue and red leaves (the leaves being impressionistic, free-floating guitar notes). The music in these songs, while a bit melancholy, is magical. I love how most of the first seven tracks have an extended, reflective instrumental outro. I love how the opening strains of track eight, "Paper Hanger," show that the end is coming, and the band mean business. I love how the next track, "My Exit, Unfair," is like one last look back, and then the final three tracks are a dive into deepest emotion. But that's the music. What about mewithouYou's simultaneous Ace In the Hole and Joker, vocalist, Aaron Weiss?
On the band's debut, Weiss' emotions were extreme, as if the relationship he was describing was wrenching not just his world, but THE WORLD apart. So what about here on Catch for Us the Foxes? For that we'll have to go to a special segment we here at The Nicsperiment like to call:
THE RANDOM CONFESSIONS OF AARON WEISS: CATCH FOR US THE FOXES EDITION:
"And I haven't even thought of killing myself in almost five months"--Aaron Weiss, taken from the song "Tie Me Up! Untie Me!," from Catch for Us the Foxes
Oh no, looks like Weiss is dealing with some heavy emotions again, and this time it's not a girl, though maybe that's part of it. This time it's the entire existential crisis of being, wanting salvation, running from salvation. Well, 2004 Aaron Weiss, get off my lawn, and go get a job!
Just kidding, 2004 Aaron Weiss! Come inside and have some tea. I hope you like it cold and sweet. I know you Yankees usually like it hot.
The reason 2004 Aaron Weiss is welcome to my house to drink cold sweet tea (hot tea is vomit), is that 2004 Aaron Weiss knows what it feels like to be depressed, just like 2004 The Nicsperiment and 2015 The Nicsperiment know what it feels like to be depressed. If you listen to Catch for Us the Foxes with even a small amount of sadness in your heart, you will most likely have the ability to connect to Aaron Weiss' lyrical imagery. The "Foxes" here are the little ones from the Song of Solomon "that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom." The ones that ruin everything, even though they are so tiny, and (from "The Soviet") "...when it's quiet, Their tails brushing over your eyelids...""And whatever's charming disappears while all things lovely only hurt my head," just like this morning when I was walking out the door in a good mood, but then I noticed that damned TV wire hanging weird, and it looked dangerous, and I didn't like it, so I tried to straighten it, but it wouldn't go where I wanted it to, and then I realized I was going to be late, and dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit
2004 Tooth & Nail Records
1. Torches Together 3:47
2. January 1979 3:26
3. Tie Me Up! Untie Me! 3:41
4. Leaf 3:37
5. Disaster Tourism 2:58
6. Seven Sisters 3:48
7. The Soviet 3:03
8. Paper Hanger 4:12
9. My Exit, Unfair 3:52
10. Four Word Letter (Pt. Two) 4:22
11. Carousels 5:41
12. Son of a Widow 3:27