Into It. Over It. - Intersections
Record Label: Triple Crown Records
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Evan Weiss is on the scene once again this year, this time with his solo project Into It. Over It. Weiss is perhaps best known for his ambitious projects of the past as Into It. Over It.; such as 52 Weeks, which is a compilation of songs that were written each week for an entire year and Twelve Towns, an album illustrating Weiss’ penchant for traveling with twelve songs about different cities across the United States. With the release of Into It. Over It.’s newest album, Intersections, there is no doubt that Weiss is a musician at the apogee of his game right now. Although, I can hardly argue that he hasn’t been there since the release of his first orthodox and aptly titled full-length: Proper in 2011.
Similarly to Proper, Intersections is a meaty and more conventional album in regard to format with twelve full tracks. However, Intersections clocks in at a laudable 45.5 minutes compared to Proper’s 34.1 minutes as Weiss partially sheds his propensity for expeditious songs that are three minutes or less. This is particularly evident on the third track, “A Curse Worth Believing” that begins with a minute and twenty second instrumental opening and on the closing track, “Contractual Obligations,” which is a hefty six minutes and fifty seconds long. Not that this reviewer is complaining. The extended instrumental parts throughout the album help to nourish unique sonic atmospheres while allowing the tracks to breathe, and take on a life of their own. Another major difference between the records is how they were both recorded and mixed. Whereas Proper is a very clean and precise studio album, Weiss decided to go for a more authentic, live feel with minimal editing on Intersections. This is particularly evident in the pulsating nature of Nick Wakim’s drumming on a majority of the tracks.
The inaugural track, “New North-Side Air,” begins by paying homage to the closing track of Proper, “The Frames That Used to Greet Me,” with its distinct opening guitar riff. This track deals with the common human fear of aging. This theme of dealing with growing older and choosing which path to follow into the future is central to many of the tracks on Intersections. “New North-Side Air” begins as a somber ballad as it slowly builds into a soaring rock song during the second verse with Weiss bellowing, “Drained by day, cause at night I lie awake with fate, because fate, well, fate’s got the keys to this place.” Another gem on this track related to aging is found in the first verse, “That’s my problem with fear, always tossing and turning, hung up on aging, but letting my age start to show. I’ve let myself go again.” The next track, “Spinning Thread,” is a fast-paced rock song in the same vein as some of Proper’s best tracks. It begins with Weiss querying someone he knows to, “Talk about something new. I’m goddamned desperate, I’m fucking begging you.” In the chorus he turns to describing the difficulty in keeping in touch with this person and having meaningful interactions with them, singing, “Curse it off again, just spinning wheels, spinning thread and my spinning head. A conversation forced into becoming such a chore, appearing cold and careless to keep me on the up and out.” Throughout the track the brisk drumming and the range of the guitars will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The third track, “A Curse Worth Believing” presents a stark change of pace from the previous two tracks. It starts off with an extended interlude of unedited guitars and a calming synth tone in the background. This is certainly one of the more melancholy tracks on the record, alongside “No Amount of Sound,” with Weiss grieving, “I’d like to think that we could talk sometime, but what in the world would we have in common? You’re barely breaking and I’m mostly broken,” as the synthesizer and soft guitar tones create a very winter-esque atmosphere in the background. Furthermore, the track ends in a flurry of instrumentation from gentle drumming, more soft-synth tones, and unedited, wailing guitars. The follow-up track, “Spatial Exploration,” returns to the famous upbeat rock songs that Into It. Over It. is known for. The track begins with pounding drums and Weiss yelling, “So this is where you’ve been?” “Spatial Exploration” also revisits the theme of aging as Weiss croons, “A certain age defines uncertainty I never could explain, so does the time create or move to make mistakes these days?” The next verse describes his progression, through experience, from uncertainty to confidence as he states, “A certain age defines a confidence I never could explain some would say its wisdom. I would call it change.” This internal development notes that age does have its benefits, though the process of getting to where he is now wasn’t easy.
Continuing the pace, “Favor & Fiction,” slots in at track number five. It puts Weiss’ talent as a guitarist, who finger picks this whole record, in the spotlight with bouncing guitar’s interwoven with forceful drumming, which synthesize seamlessly as the track ends. Lyrically, one of the highlights from this track comes in the middle of the song when Weiss delivers this gem, “I’m too uptight to believe half the things I hear. All’s fair in a trip to intensive care. A waiting room of patience wearing thin breathe out and breathe in.” The subsequent track, “The Shaking of Leaves,” returns the tempo to a more sedated setting. This track is a follow-up to Proper’s “Connecticut Steps,” which is about the death of Weiss’ friend, Mitch Dubey. Whereas that song described Weiss’ total when he received news of his friend’s murder, “The Shaking of Leaves” depicts the moment of catharsis when the New Haven police finally apprehended the suspect; “The New Haven expose, it confirmed they caught a killer, well I caught a chill when the newsprint said the gunman was nineteen.”
With the listener still processing the lows of the last track, Weiss brings the energy back up to eleven with my personal favorite track on this record. “Upstate Blues” paints a picture of people living in upstate New York who shirk their responsibilities to remain as indolent twenty year olds who stay up late and drink, with Weiss singing, “A whole community of people, never sleeping only drinking and alone, they soak up their twenties into tens. It’s like their twenties never end.” Weiss realizes this sad state of affairs stating, “I didn’t want to stay here,” and at the end of the verse, he belts out perhaps my favorite line from this record, “If misery loves company, then what does that make me?” Following “Upstate Blues,” we get another pace shift with what could be considered the most emotional track on Intersections, “No Amount of Sound.” The track begins with the guitars and piano melding to create a gloomy atmosphere, before Weiss mournfully sings, “Footsteps: they followed mother’s death. They followed suit and peeled the paint off the walls.”
Never content to keep his listener in an emotional trough for too long, “A Pair of Matching Taxi Rides” brings us back to the rock side of things. This track is the biggest ‘grower’ song on Intersections, in my opinion. Weiss begins by setting the scene, “Left behind. Our story’s on the sidewalk. It’s a brief goodbye. An address in your hand. Notice me. I’m kicking rocks toward loneliness, begrudgingly packing up our things. You’re leaving on a morning flight.” The instrumental peak of the song comes with a minute and twenty seconds left as Brian Deck plays the moog synthesizer and Weiss croons, “A way to drift above us while I provide the way out. Is this enough to make it a way to drift above us? While I provide the way out, is this enough to make it? Am I enough to make it?” Next up is “Obsessive Compulsive Distraction,” a nice play on words that returns to the album theme of growing older and dealing with the problems associated with aging. In this case, Weiss discusses being forgetful and losing parts of your memory, especially of when you were younger. With lines such as, “A stack of stories and my pattern’s repeating a mind due for losing,” “I repeat while details leave me. Memory loss disorder rerun the process over. I repeat: the short gets shorter while the long term just laughs at me,” and “I can’t recall a single thing before I turned eighteen. A quarter crisis from the back of my destructive brain.” I feel as though this is, lyrically, one of the cleverest and artful songs on Intersections, while being supplemented effectively by backup vocals from Kate Emily Grube and Mitchell Wojcik.
The penultimate track, “Your Antique Organ,” may come as a bit of a surprise as the song is based around an acoustic guitar that feels as close to folk as Weiss has ever gotten. The lyrics depict two close friends whose, “vital signs realign at the same time every year.” In the end, Weiss realizes that he had never made the impression he thought he had on her, singing, “Inside the programmed tones of your antique organ where I barely made a sound,” to “…where I never made a sound….” The closing track, “Contractual Obligation,” ends the record on a high note as Weiss decides to go out on a bang with a nearly seven minute jam. The song begins with him directing his ire towards someone, akin to “Discretion & Depressing People” on Proper, as he bellows, “The look of your name is such an eyesore. Who in their right mind would want to look like that! A cult of deception.” In deciding to expose this “rat” and “cult of deception,” the narrator is putting his mind and energy into something that will keep him young and active. As Weiss puts it, “These concrete ambitions for solid ground make for sense of direction to sort things out.” The song slowly fades out with gorgeously intertwined vocals from Weiss.
In the end, Intersections is a terrific record with twelve well-crafted and enjoyable songs that Weiss has put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into. Anybody expecting Proper 2.0 might feel disappointed at first, but the truth of the matter is that he has taken a step forward as an ever-improving musician with Intersections. For this, we can be extremely thankful and excited for what the future holds for Into It. Over It. This is not an album that you put on in the background while doing something else. This is an album that commands your attention through lush, layered instrumentation and easily relatable lyrics; giving us the best of both the live and recorded worlds. Be sure to catch Weiss and his friends Josh on rhythm guitar, Josh on drums, and Tim on bass, this fall touring with Saves the Day!