Mike Weiss, guitarist of the post-rock outfit mewithoutYou, isn't surprised that many old fans don't love his band's new record. In fact, he feels fine about it. "We all got older. It was time to think about making music you could actually hum along to," he says.
Hummable music was far from a priority when the Philadelphia band formed in 2001. Its debut, [A>B] Life, was a barrage of thrashy guitar chaos topped with Weiss' brother Aaron's half-spoken, half-screamed vocal meltdowns. The band's last appearance in Pittsburgh, as openers for Brand New in late 2007, showcased mewithoutYou's marriage of chaos and catharsis.
With its fourth record just released on Tooth & Nail, the not-so-succinctly titled It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright, mewithoutYou is now a very different beast. The music sounds more connected to the twisted folk of Neutral Milk Hotel than anything remotely "hardcore." One track even features a flute solo.
The album opener, "Every Thought a Thought of You," unfolds with a bouncing toy-piano line before Rickie Mazzotta's galloping drums push the song violently forward. And if you can't understand Aaron Weiss' rhythmic chanting at the song's conclusion, it's not your ears -- he's singing in Arabic. Or, more accurately, praying in Arabic.
While mewithoutYou shows are far from Sunday Mass, Weiss' lyrics have always been faith-based and he's looking toward God with It's All Crazy! The eerily Jeff Mangum-like "Allah, Allah, Allah" is a sing-along aimed at -- surprise! -- the big guy upstairs.
Though it's both the band's most musically complex and accessible release so far, some mewithoutYou fans have, according to Weiss, sprayed the band with bad feedback. "We can't be concerned that we'll lose fans. Some bands use that as an excuse when they make records and they end up sitting around trying to write a hit song," said Weiss. "But whenever we've wanted to make music, it's been because we need to get it out, to make it a reality."
It's All Crazy! might even draw a new school of listeners to the band's new, acoustic-folk freak outs. "We want to make music that we enjoy," he says. "So come what may."
mewithoutYou with The Dear Hunter and Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground. 7 p.m. Tue., July 7 (doors at 6 p.m.). Mr. Small's Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $13. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com