Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The newest mewithoutYou album, "Ten Stories," feels like a wood-shedding moment. It feels like it came about through intense scrutiny, through a decision to flesh out the details of the lives of the characters that exist throughout the 11 songs. There are saints and sinners, all wearing the same clothes. Interestingly enough, a song like "The Angel Of Death Came To David's Room," from the Philadelphia band's last record, "It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright," is a bit of a connector thematically and feels like it might have been a jumping off point.
These are stories that sweep us up with their sunken eyes and with their appearances that are either gaunt or fit, however you want to look at them. They are tales of common people who have lost mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. They've been without money and they've been huddled beneath a sky that falls little by little and they've got all the proof they'd ever like to have about it. "Ten Stories" is a collection that's heavy on dense subjects, on people who have been saddled with feelings that they can trace to one or two instances and everything since then has just been a build-up of miscellany, of dings and bumps, of fractures and heartaches. All of it leads to discussions about the last of days, or times when there might be peacefulness at the end of the line, instead of more of the static that they've come to know so well.
Lead singer Aaron Weiss, guitarist Michael Weiss, bassist Greg Jehanian and drummer Rickie Mazzotta have written a record that hinges on the very threads of what it means to be human - to be overwhelmed and to recognize all of the flaws that are out there and within, to play them as they lie. It's a record that finds fantastic beauty in the macabre and depressing traits in that which is taken for granted as joyful. Weiss sings, "Choirs sang as the black birds fell," and we're not at all sure what's coming next, but where there's smoke, there's fire. What's likely to happen - and what we usually do in most cases - is we'll reach out for a familiar hand to hold and we'll count on them to be there for us, whether we should or whether we shouldn't.