Thursday, July 2, 2009

mewithoutYou, Hunters find their way


By Meredith Deliso

Orchestral indie rock acts. Multi-instrumentalists. Epic storytelling.

With these elements in common, it’s no surprise that mewithoutYou and The Dear Hunter will be sharing the same stage this month at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

On July 7, the bands’ national tour together nears its end, with them both celebrating the release of new albums in recent weeks.

The two-month long tour has also left the bands a bit discombobulated. Both were driving somewhere through Florida during an interview with this paper, finding it a bit hard to see much farther than the palm trees, let alone all the way to Brooklyn.

“There are so many shows between now and then, it’s hard to think about Brooklyn,” said Aaron Weiss, lead singer of the Philadelphia-based band mewithoutYou. “A lot of the shows blend together once you’re inside the club. You can’t tell if you’re in Brooklyn or Albuquerque.”

It’s all crazy may be a good way to describe life on the road, which also provides a nice segue to talk about mewithoutYou’s new album, “it’s all crazy! it’s all false! it’s all a dream! it’s alright.” Their fourth full-length album, out earlier this spring on Tooth & Nail, finds the band drawing inspiration from myths for their own storytelling, pulling from old bedtime stories Weiss’s mom used to tell him.

Hence children’s booky song titles like “The Fox, the Crow, and the Cookie” and “The King Beetle on a Coconut Estate.” Melodically, the album picks up right where their last effort album, “Brother, Sister,” left off.

“A few songs [on that album] were written toward the end of the process, were more acoustic based and more melodic. They turned out to be our favorites,” says Weiss. “We figured, let’s build upon what we liked the best from everything we’ve done so far and go further in that direction. Then we’ll like all our songs, not just a couple of our songs.”

With orchestral arrangements on their folk record, in the same vein as bands like Annuals and the Decemberists, it’s an impossible sound to create live with just the four of them – Weiss on vocals, his brother Michael on guitar, Greg Jeganian on bass and Rickie Mazzotta on drums.

“You have to make up for it with either playing the keyboard for example instead of a harp, or just the live energy of people playing,” says Weiss. “We hope to carry the show more in the absence of strings and horns.”

The same issue arises for the Providence, RI-based band The Dear Hunter (not to be confused with Atlanta’s Deerhunter) as they travel in support of their latest third full-length, “Act III: Life and Death,” out late last month on Triple Crown Records.

“It just isn’t about recreating the sound for us,” says Casey Crescenzo, the lead singer, as well as pianist and lyricist for the band. “For us it’s about doing the best show that we can with the members that we have,” which also includes his brother Nick on drums, Andy Wildrick and Erick Serna on guitar, and Nate Patterson on bass.

With a mythology of their own, “Act III” marks the third contribution in a six-album rock opera, continuing the narrative of an innominate fictional character with the band’s progressive, alternative rock sound.

“I like to write as many different styles of music as I can – jazz, fusion. Latin. The overflow lends itself to much more strange music,” says Crescenzo, though one thing does remain constant. “It’s always been about remaining genuine and honest with what we’ve been doing.”

When the band comes to Brooklyn, they’re hoping for a similar response to their music from their audience, though with stoic concertgoers, it can be difficult to tell.

“I guess I just have to get used to the fact that people really don’t jump around to the music that we play,” says Crescenzo. “I think everyone is enjoying what we’re doing, but it’s impossible for me to tell.”

Show your love when mewithoutYou and The Dear Hunter play Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 North 6th St.) July 9, also with Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground. The show’s 16+, with tickets $15, and starts at 8:30 p.m. The bands also play The Bowery Ballroom (6 Delancy St.) on July 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets are also $15.

For more information, call 718-486-5400.


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