Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's better to do with his issues what Aaron With of the band Volcano! does with his. It's good that he has his art and, frankly, we should be thankful that most writers and musicians have their channels. It's most likely that they take their thoughts into wilder and wilder places because they can, maximizing the empty page and these forms with no rules, just creative limitations. But you always wonder. With is an engaging lead singer that you want to keep your eyes on, that you want to listen closely to, trying to figure out his true thoughts within the riddles. His thoughts are measured pieces of lunacy and justified particles nervousness and splintered and tweaking self-analysis. They spurt out the way water does from a fire hydrant that's been wrenched open for a good, street cleansing.
A song like "Pinata," which With and bandmates Mark Cartwright and Sam Scranton make feel like a boiling broth, a sea filled with sticks and blades, along with the water that we'd expect, features a character who feels like a sacrificial lamb turned target. He's tied up into and hanging from the branch of a maple tree - at one point encouraging people to come and visit him - and then realizing that he's hung up to dry. He asks for the rains to come and for someone to get over there to open him up and empty him out of all of the things that others have stuffed him full of. What you might be able to beat out of him could be the maniacal laughter that we hear in the middle of "So Many Lemons," after he sings about some Red Stripes. We might get a lot of empty promises and complaints, which would all be so incredibly disappointing if we were expecting a huge candy drop.
We shouldn't be expecting candy, however, when we're treading into these dark ass places. With sings:
"And I wish I could have, more lives
I wish I could turn my hands into knives, knives, knives, knives
...in a montage
Where in slow motion
I'll remember the death of my friend
And so I'll sharpen my arms on the strength of this rage
And throw an upper cut through the length of his face."
It should be nothing to fear. He's just getting things off his chest, juggling his mess. Healthy is in the eye of the beholder. He sings, "Who needs less when the bar's got more," and so, we follow his lead.