… here’s a preview of a few of the bands I’m planning on seeing while back in L.A. this summer.
I’ve brought up MewithoutYou before, and the new album has yet to be released, but I couldn’t help but reflect a little on one of the new songs: Bullet to Binary part 2. One of Aaron Weiss’ favorite thematic elements is the vegetation metaphor (perhaps its the perishable, evanescent quality of fruits and vegetables that attracts him), and Bullet to Binary goes out in full allegorical force.
The scene is a garden where the lettuce, eggplant and potato are all engaged in Girardian mimetic rivalry (the potato admits concerning the eggplant: “reason being/I must confess/I adore her shining purple dress”). But the self-reflexive anxiety of the characters only reproduces itself endlessly (“the apple threw our half baked fears/like a wooden shoe in the windmill gear/the turning stopped and we clearly saw/the flaws in that which finds the flaw”). All the actors can do is anxiously wait (my favorite line: “the strawberry said to the tangerine
/my face is red but our hats are green”).
Back to the rivalry between the potato and the eggplant: the narrator accuses the potato of psychoanalytic projection (“does the rain that sent each spring anew/to fall on her not fall on you?/you project on her your inward scene/she’s a blank external movie screen”). This second verse concludes with a vague allusion to Elie Wiesel’s identification of Christ being present in the suffering of a child in the Holocaust (“but the One who looks out from your eyes/looks through hers and looks through mine.”)
In a deft rhetorical maneuver, Weiss turns the bridge into a lament of “we all well know/we’re gonna reap what we sow.” This lament quickly becomes an accusatory mantra (“from each time you disrespect your parents/you better hope we don’t hear it/we who know/you’re gonna reap what you sow”). No longer is the lamentation one of solidarity (in the first person plural); it is one of accusation (second person). In contrast to this objectifying move (this sound like the Religious Right to anyone?), Weiss concedes: “but grace, we all know/can take the place of all we owe/so why not/let’s forgive everyone, everywhere, everything/all the time, everyone, everywhere, everything.” It is simultaneously a lamentation, a theology of the cross, and a movement toward intersubjective solidarity in the midst of human suffering. Beautiful.
One of my favorite bands, MeWithoutYou, has been gaining ground in the indie music scene for the last couple of years. I can vividly remember seeing them at the Whisky in Hollywood about 3-4 years ago before the release of Catch for us the Foxes. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen, and that is a compliment directed principally towards their enigmatic vocalist Aaron Weiss (here are some live videos of the band playing an acoustic set in a record shop). He is my favorite contemporary lyricist, and quite a good guy, to boot. You can read an enlightening interview with him here concerning matters spiritual, physical, environmental, and musical. Here’s a quick excerpt:
Everyone has a story. Some have seen him walking around the festival grounds, picking half-eaten sandwiches out of the garbage and finishing them. Others talk about how he and his friends live in a commune in Philadelphia, sharing their possessions and profits from the band to live a life similar to those in the early church. Most who’ve met him say you haven’t felt a real hug until you’ve experienced his bone-cracking embrace. Everyone swears there’s something different about him, something beyond guitar riffs and record sales.