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Laughing Eye Weeping Eye

“We like to flip off conventions because it sucks to be in a straitjacket,†says Rebecca Schoenecker, the “primary singer/songwriter/visionary†of Laughing Eye Weeping Eye. A quick listen to LEWE calls a great variety of adjectives to mind, but “conventional†definitely isn’t one of them.

Schoenecker describes some of the ways LEWE “flips off†conventions: “Singing like coyotes, cross-dressing like a nightmare out of the thrift store or costume shop… singing spiritual Christian-inspired hymns as Pagans, singing very serious songs and ideas in a way that does not appear serious, encouraging people to engage in the lost art of thinking…â€

While the band’s sound is extremely dynamic and multi-layered, this Chicago-based act is a mere duo, with Schoenecker joined by multi-instrumentalist co-writer Patrick Holbrook. LEWE’s dedicated, imaginative utilization of nontraditional instruments and techniques is both fascinating and estranging.

A harmonium Schoenecker bought in 2010 “caused something jagged and fierce to stir up in [her] soul; an outpouring of songs erupted, spewing forth princess hags, sirens and gnomes.â€

Nontraditional, indeed. “We play and choose our instruments like explorers; there is a sense of possibility and curiosity,†says Schoenecker. “The instruments have their own personalities, and we allow them to contribute to the songwriting.â€

Whether or not one enjoys LEWE’s sound seems almost irrelevant; the specter of such a bizarre and experimental approach to rendering art ought to entice even the least curious among us.

Athenians who are “sick to death of the ‘serious, wispy female singer/songwriter and the male rock star masturbating with his guitar’ model†(Schoenecker’s words) are in for a refreshing, albeit likely confusing, evening; Laughing Eye Weeping Eye will fit right in with locals Future Ape Tapes, Bubbly Mommy Gun and Basshunter 64, all of whom strive to deliver what critic Darko Suvin calls “strange newness.†Look it up.