Union Transfer

1026 SPRING GARDEN STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19123 Ι 215-232-2100

The Menzingers & mewithoutYou

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The Menzingers & mewithoutYou

Pianos Become The Teeth, Restorations

Sat, October 24, 2015

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA

$20.00 - $24.00

Sold Out

This event is all ages

The Menzingers
The Menzingers
Philadelphia-by-way-of Scranton punk band, The Menzingers are two years removed from Epitaph debut On The Impossible Past. Voted Album of the Year by Absolute Punk and Punk News, the universal acclaim praised the band for its punk roots and quintessentially Midwest romantics. The same accolades have followed The Menzingers since forming as teenagers, followed since Chamberlain Waits (2010) and A Lesson In The Abuse of Information Technology (2007).

No longer housemates in Scranton, PA, the title to The Menzinger’s 2014 follow-up, Rented World, mirrors the band’s lifestyle since moving to Philly in 2008. The band was renting separate spaces around the city, but maintaining a practice space in North Philly where the majority of the record was written.

Faithfully archetypal Rust Belt punk, Rented World is an album concerned with maintaining a sense of self, the softening of posture, and the burden of harsh realities. In every respect, The Menzingers went into Rented World asking more of themselves. As co-songwriter and guitarist Tom May notes, The Menzingers felt like a different band in 2013.

Rented World remains punk, while fearlessly colliding the snarl of emo with grungy, 90s grit (“Bad Things”) and exploring the celestial expanse of post-rock (“Transient Love”). It’s slightly new territory for a band coping with their mid-twenties, and whether you've been there or you’re on the way there, it’s important to note a maturation that comes with the milestone.

“When you’re 15 you view music and the music industry a certain way,” May said. “But by the time you’re 25 you have a different view. Not that it’s good or bad, but getting older itself has changed the music.”

While the previous two records live in the trademark angst of Chicago producer Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio and Lawrence Arms) and his Atlas Studio sound, Menzingers kept it Philly-local for Rented World, enlisting Jonathan Low, whose distinctively rich Americana resonates through the careers of The War On Drugs, Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, and The National.

The band as a whole recognized shifts in their craft, shifts they knew would best be handled by Low at Miner Street Recordings. “We wanted to go to somebody who wasn't used to recording punk records,” Tom May said. “Though it wasn't in a pretentious way, like we wanted to become an indie rock band.”

With that in mind, album opener “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” is not just a declaration to be better to that special someone, but a bold recognition that permeates the record on into “Nothing Feels Good Anymore”. Shaking oneself out of ruts, still life stagnancy, and the same damn party every weekend informs two of Rented World’s most anthemic offerings.

While the front end of Rented World mostly focus on the complications of friendships and relationships, the latter songs progress towards the abstract. “The Talk” kicks the surgeon general’s number one killer out the front door (“I want my life back / you turned my chest black / I don’t owe you anything”), while “Sentimental Physics” addresses with the impossibility of compromise in the science vs. religion battle, “you can come find me / when you feel lost in a bidding war”.

On “In Remission” Barnett’s insecurities manifest as “I hate how I always get nervous every time I try to speak / in front of a big crowd / a pretty girl / or the police”, meaning The Menzingers didn’t write the answers into Rented World. The record admits to an in medias res that comes with one’s late 20s, old enough to know better, but still seeking greater wisdom.

Things start to feel a little more serious,” Tom May said. “When we were younger we wrote fiery songs because at that age it’s your world view. Things feel wrong and you want to say how wrong it is. Now, I look at the world with a view of ‘well, I’m not right all the time’.”
mewithoutYou
mewithoutYou
Those who have followed mewithoutYou's music in recent years will likely see their new, self-released Ten Stories as a return to old form. Their previous record, It's All Crazy!, etc. had been a drastic and intentional departure. Aaron Weiss’ manic, unorthodox hollering was nowhere to be found, deliberately giving way to a more conventional melodic vocal approach. The explosive, schizophrenic drumming and swarthy, tempestuous low end (Rickie Mazzotta and Greg Jehanian, respectively) were accordingly subdued, relegated largely to keeping basic time. Chris Kleinberg had jumped ship for med school, leaving Mike Weiss reluctantly alone on electric guitar, feeling like a session player embellishing his little brother’s folk songs, no longer part of a coherent unit.

In short, due largely to their singer’s creative wanderlust, the band had entirely forsaken whatever they'd become; in an effort to spurn the familiar, they had grown unrecognizable, alienating no shortage of fans in the process. Those fans, and whoever has come to miss what was most distinct about mewithoutYou, will welcome Ten Stories as the rightful follow-up to their 2006 release, Brother/Sister, and 2004’s Catch for Us the Foxes. To be sure, the band hasn’t altogether renounced the psychedelic-rustic-pop elements of It’s All Crazy!; rather, they have renounced the scrupulous control inherent to its renunciation. Simply put, they seem to have let go of the steering wheel, and are back to writing music, well, ‘naturally.’

“They're not quite children’s songs,” vocalist Aaron Weiss explains, “with not quite coherent storylines, but there is an overarching and kind of child- like narrative: a circus train crashes in 19th century Montana. Some animals escape, others stay in their cages. The traveling menagerie re-rails, stays its course, and struggles to fill in the missing attractions. Meanwhile, freed from institutionalized life, the rice-cake rabbit takes to a peripatetic fortune teller, the monastic walrus is tempted by a hedonistic owl, a fish falls for an eggplant. Other songs describe a contemplative Fox's prophetic dream, a starving Bear's vision of a martyred saint, and an indecisive Peacock & gnostic Tiger learning the virtues of megalomania from an ego-annihilated Potter Wasp.”

This bizarre, character-heavy lyrical approach let the band revisit their perennial leitmotifs of romantic disaster & quasi-mystical speculation, without the self-pity/indulgence of direct autobiography. Reflecting recent, devastating personal losses, practically every song addresses our inevitable dying, apparently easier to face when projected onto anthropomorphic animals. This zoological ventriloquist act allows them to explore abstract philosophical themes and draw on finespun literary sources with a profound goofiness that deflates whatever danger of pretentiousness. The story-teller elements are obscure enough to avoid the short-lived rock opera aesthetic, leaving most plot details and potential moralizing to the imagination; and this without succumbing to insincerity/irony, overt relativism, or outright nonsense.

The ever-odd Daniel Smith's production and veteran Brad Wood's mixing combine to improve upon the best sonic elements of the band's past releases. Musically, Ten Stories is a mix of the brazen noisiness, hypnotic soundscapes, and derelict shouting of their old songs, the dead-level melody and extravagant orchestration of recent years, and a newfound reliance on ethereal harmonies, courtesy en masse of female guest vocalists (most notably, Paramore's Hayley Williams). Whimsically morbid as an Edward Gorey alphabet, simultaneously self-abnegating and -aggrandizing, defying simplistic musical or intellectual categorization, mewithoutYou's new collection of songs is the fabulously vivid outgrowth of an ongoing religious and irreverent eclecticism, a ‘decade-plus narcissistic scramble for artistic affirmation’ (their words), and the even longer-running and peculiar friendship of four not- so-younggentlemen from nowhere in particular, apparently at the height of their mutual affection.

Epilogue:
mewithoutYou's 17-ton grease-powered bus -- the ornately-chipped, floral-painted, “mental hospital on wheels” -- will once again, according to the band, “hem and haw its way across the country this summer, punctuated no doubt by near-daily breakdowns, makeshift repairs, newborn babies, manic depressive episodes, and desperate attempts by all parties involved to separate [them]selves from separation itself.”
Pianos Become The Teeth
Pianos Become The Teeth
Pianos Become The Teeth have never been the kind of band who are easy to distill into a simple soundbite and that’s more evident than ever on the band's fourth full-length Wait For Love, an album that sees the Baltimore-based act reconciling their aggressive past with the atmospheric turns of 2014's Keep You. The result is a collection of songs that eschews stylistic traps in order to focus on songwriting and feels like a full-realization of what the band have only hinted at in the past. The players—vocalist Kyle Durfey, guitarists Mike York and Chad McDonald, bassist Zac Sewell and drummer David Haik—may be the same this time around but their lives have continued to unravel and that journey lies at the emotional core of Wait For Love, which is a creative collaboration in the truest sense of the term.

“For Wait For Love my goal was just to write really interesting songs that pushed us forward as a band and allowed us to do something different than we had ever done in the past,” York explains. In order to get out of their comfort zone, the group isolated themselves in a cabin on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for extended writing excursions and ended up with a windfall of 30 songs by the time they entered the studio. Although Durfey—whose wife had recently had a child—was absent at some of these sessions, ultimately that event allowed the vocalist to approach Wait For Love from a different perspective. “I had so much more time to sit and ponder these songs and how I wanted to approach them,” he recalls. “I think that changed by approach to vocals because it wasn't this immediate thing, it was more thought out.”

In order to capture their vision the group once again joined forces with Keep You's producer Will Yip (Title Fight, Circa Survive) who acted like a sixth member when it came to shaping these songs. “Working with Will made us a better band as a whole because I think it helped us refine who we are and think about how to approach this record in a different way than we would have on our own,” York explains. That isn't to say that Wait For Love didn't have its share of setbacks—mainly the fact that Haik experienced a mysterious back injury a few days into the recording session—but even those unexpected events ultimately contributed to the overall sound of the album. “I think a goal of both of us and Will was to write solid songs and not be afraid of being catchy while still sounding like Pianos Become The Teeth,” Durfey explains.

Correspondingly the album opens with “Fake Lightning,” a transcendent musical meditation that pairs ambient guitars with impassioned vocals and Haik's driving drumming. Seamlessly that song gives way to “Charisma,” which features fuzzed-out bass and melodies that hang in the air long after the moment has passed. “I really wanted this to be an album where things weren't neatly defined and there were moments where you couldn't tell what was a guitar and what was a keyboard or sample,” York explains. This is exemplified on “Bitter Red” a song that's cinematic in scope yet nuanced enough to fit perfectly in the band’s catalog. In a similar spirit, Durfey's lyrics are still just as poetic but see him shifting his perspective from the loss of his father to what it feels like to be one himself.

“This album all ties into the idea of love and how love comes to you during different times in life in good and bad ways,” Durfey explains, adding that it was refreshing to further stretch out stylistically on this record after he transitioned from screaming to singing on Keep You. “To me this everything on this record is incredibly personal and as specific as it has been on every record but it's not solely based on one specific figure the way it has been in the past and I'm happy about that,” Durfey explains. That said, those familiar concepts of loss are present on the album's closing song “Blue,” which approaches the topic from a more hopeful perspective as a new father imagines the endless ways his own son's life will play out.

Pianos Become The Teeth could have easily remade a screamo-inspired album reminiscent of 2009's Old Pride or 2011's The Lack Long After and no one would fault them for it. But Wait For Love is a rare example of a band still discovering their sound over a decade into their career, a fact that’s present in every note of this expansive album. From the haunting “Dry Spells” to the experimentally minded “Bay Of Dreams,” there are moments on Wait For Love that are so dreamy they’re otherworldly, whether the catalyst is a sample or a single note. “This album has some of our most interesting guitar work but also some of the most pulled back ideas of what the record should be,” York adds.

“I think we all made an effort to be open to things and see what came out especially in the studio with this album, “Durfey summarizes when asked about the ambitious nature of Wait For Love. “When you've been playing music together for as long as we have it's easy to get in a rut,” he continues. “Wait For Love still sounds like us but there are different kinds of songs here and I don't think that would have happened if it weren't for making records like Keep You and being open to pushing forward into that uncharted territory. I’m just really excited for people to have their own experience with the album.”
Restorations
Restorations
At a time when the music world is saturated with more bands than ever, Restorations are a refreshing change of pace: An act who undeniably embody the DIY spirit but also bring along a real breadth of musical knowledge and an unlikely set of influences that somehow manage to work perfectly together. Equal parts punk rock and polemics, Restorations is a unique group of musicians that's difficult to categorize and even harder to get out of your head.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123