Arts & Letters Saturday: mewithoutYou

November 17, 2012

As many have discussed, culture is deeper and more important than politics.  Certainly government policy can, to some extent, change a culture, but to a much greater extent, (democratic) governments are whatever kind of government the underlying culture produces.  As Rush Limbaugh remarked before the election, America could survive four more years of President Obama’s policies; the worst wouldn’t be the policies—the worst would be that we would have become the kind of country that would re-elect such a president.

From now on, I’ll try to post something about arts and culture—about a movie, a book, any art form—every Saturday.  It may be self-consciously Christian or conservative art, or it may not.  It will be something that I liked at least one aspect of; it may or may not be something you would like as well.  Let me know what you think.

Feel free to submit suggestions for artists to be featured in Arts & Letters Saturdays in the comment section below or contact, above.

This week’s artist is mewithoutYou, a Christian band* from Philadelphia (official band Web site here).  The band has been around since 2001 and has released (as of this year) five full-length albums.  According to Wikipedia (link in original), “The band consists of vocalist Aaron Weiss, guitarist Michael Weiss, bassist Greg Jehanian and drummer Rickie Mazzotta. The band’s music is generally dominated by spoken-word vocals and free-ranging drums, bass, and guitar.”

Stylistically, their previous (2009) album, It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright (see Wikipedia for the origin of the title), in Wikipedia’s words, represents

a departure from Weiss’ trademark shouting and the band’s raucous grooves. The mile-a-minute rants, thick with lyrical angst, are traded for simpler melodies with lyrics about anthropomorphic food and animals.

Or, as the band themselves put it, “Aaron Weiss’ manic, unorthodox hollering was nowhere to be found, deliberately giving way to a more conventional melodic vocal approach.”

Fortunately—or unfortunately, according to taste—for their latest album, Ten Stories (2012), mewithoutYou “have let go of the steering wheel, and are back to writing music, well, ‘naturally.’”

See their Web site’s official bio for more on the band and their styles.

The name, I can only assume, alludes to the mess we (“me”) are in, apart from God (“You”).  Sometimes their songs are explicitly Christian; here’s “A Stick, A Carrot and String” (no video):

But often not; “The Fox, The Crow, and the Cookie”, for example, is an innovative re-telling of an Aesop’s fable:

(Both songs are from the It’s All Crazy album; personally I prefer the non-“shouting” style!)

See more mewithoutYou music videos on their Web site.


* Some would prefer not to call mewithoutYou a Christian band.  E.g., read this interesting Busted Halo interview with Aaron Weiss.  (For better or for worse, one possible alternative would be to call it a hipster band.)

3 Responses to “Arts & Letters Saturday: mewithoutYou”

  1. They do seem to be inviting the label of Christian band, though. “You” is capitalized while everything else is not. God. No question. And, most beautifully, it is all one word. I’d say that says something about the concept. It is a condition: a whole description of a person. If you like, there are only two ways to be me. mewithoutYou, and mewithYou. One early theologian wrote that salvation effects a change in our essence: from non-being to being. So, the “with or without You” is the most fundamental articulation of our essence, inseparable from the “me”.

    • Huh. Do you think that’s secretly what U2 wanted “With or without You” to mean?

    • Wikipedia says this: “Bono explained that the lyrics had romantic intentions, saying, ‘there’s nothing more revolutionary than two people loving each other. One, ’cause it’s so uncommon these days, and two, ’cause it’s so difficult to do.’ ”

      On the other hand, Socrates says this: “So I took up poems over which I thought they had taken special pains, and asked them what they meant, so as also at the same time to learn from them. Now, I am ashamed to tell you the truth, gentlemen, but still, it must be told. There was hardly anyone present who could not give a better account than they of what they had themselves produced. So presently I came to realize that poets too do not make what they make by wisdom, but by a kind of native disposition or divine inspiration, exactly like seers and prophets. for the latter also utter many fine things, but know nothing of the things they speak.”

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: