It’s hard to describe an album written with such poignant and poetic diction, like the records from Aaron Weiss of the American band mewithoutYou. Ten Stories is the band’s first release in three years and also their first to be released independently. It’s a very cohesive album that tells ten separate tales stemming from a train crash in western Montana in the winter of the late 1800s. The train was transporting circus animals and Aaron Weiss gives these animals voices, telling the stories of how they tried to survive the crash.
Lyrically the album creates a sort of “Life of Pi” feel in that both people’s and animals’ actions are often instinctive and based off of what they’ve experienced already. He gives them a true human voice, rich with passionate emotions. Weiss’ vocals have the distinct speak-singing narration that couples with an intense quasi scream-rant, offering a beatnik sound that’s perfect for chronicling their journeys. His poetic diction and rhythm seem to just flow from him. He is playful and witty with lines like, “I don’t know if I know, though some with certainty insist, no certainty exists,” on the track “Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume.”
Listen to “February 1878” below:
The music sets up an artfully majestic scene for all these stories to be told. The first song, “February 1878,” is an introductory glimpse into the album’s plot, describing the time and the place with great articulation and presenting each character/animal alongside frantic guitar and vocals. In its entirety, the album is well balanced, building up when it needs to and developing throughout songs and throughout the whole album. At the same time, although “well balanced,” the album still rocks pretty hard with the help of a solid rhythm from Rickie Mazzotta (drums) and Greg Jehanian (bass). Weiss’ guitar crafts melodic sounds guiding the rhythm to intense climaxes. A great slide can be heard in “Elephant in the Dock,” where he creates a sound reminiscent of an elephant noise. When all is layered with the horns, strings, and Aaron Weiss’ vocals in tracks like “Bear’s Vision of St. Agnes,” it sounds like mewithoutYou earnestly took their time to make this fifth release right. Ten Stories is easily one of the best rock albums of the year so far.
Listen to “East Enders Wives” below:
Now independently produced, the band was able to create something they’re passionate about without the oppression that can exist with major labels. An intense passion is something that inherently resonates throughout this album.
I’m from Pennsylvania but I now live in Montana; I live about five blocks from the Clark Fork River that the band references on the track “Grist for the Malady Mill.” It’s a special treat to hear other people from Pennsylvania (the band is from Philadelphia) talk about Montana. Now if only we can get them to come out here on tour.