Review Summary: mewithoutYou's unsung hero.
Let me first just acknowledge the fact that we've reached the point where Aaron Weiss is going to be mentioned in any album review of an artist affiliated with mewithoutYou. Whether it be a similar band or a band member's outside work -- as is the case of bassist Greg Jehanian's side project Geology -- Aaron will be used to validate its merit. It's inescapable, really; his quirky charisma and utterly brilliant lyricism are too much a highlight of mewithoutYou to be disregarded. And Jehanian knows it too. Why else would he croon, "I have no voice" over and over again in "G Minor" if not to express his helpless frustration in being trampled over by Aaron's jerking, puppet-like dance moves and vivacious vocals" Okay, that may have been an exaggeration; you and I both know if he was any less egotistical he'd be claiming his lyrics were more borrowed than the parables he takes their inspiration from. However, after listening to Jehanian's third release, North
, you may be surprised to find that apart from Aaron's unmistakable imprint on the band's sound, mewithoutYou's brilliance may be more attributed to Jehanian than anyone else.
Though perhaps it isn't so surprising. Just consider his bass work in mewithoutYou for a moment. Songs such as "A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains" on Brother, Sister
and "Cardiff Giant" on Ten Stories
showed some truly creative musicianship, and while it could be that one of the guitarists simply wrote it, judging by the talent displayed on North
, it's more likely he wrote his own bass lines and perhaps even much of mewithoutYou's song structure in general. And if it seems like I'm speaking far too much about mewithoutYou and not enough about Geology, just bare with me. There is a point to this.
See, it's actually quite remarkable just how different North
sounds from his main project, and that only truly stands out when side by side with it. It may seem an odd comparison, but North's
closest cousin, sonically speaking, would have to be The Photo Album
by Death Cab For Cutie. Songs like "On The Blue" and "The Mountains And The Sea" have the same driving guitar as The Photo Album's
"A Movie Script Ending" and "I Was A Kaleidoscope," and hell, even Jehanian sounds eerily like Ben Gibbard.
So in a way it's kind of a shame North
wasn't his first release. The improvement from his last two EPs to the latest is so great that his obvious talent would have made significant waves had North
been released first. Even so, it's great to see an artist improving with each work in the midst of so many artists who's quality dwindles off after the first or second album. And if there are any criticisms to be made -- and none of which are momentous -- it's that the production isn't the greatest. There are some moments where I couldn't help but wish certain instruments were louder or his voice softer, but these really don't take away from the songs' overall effect -- and for self-producing at home, the sound quality is still quite impressive.
is any indication of Jehanian's future, it's that his work deserves the same anticipation a mewithoutYou album does. And while it may lack the infectious charm and delightful wit of Aaron Weiss, it still displays an artist whose work, while perhaps not completely groundbreaking, stands up with the best indie bands out there.