Wednesday is a band from North Carolina led by Karly Hartzman (guitar/vocals), with MJ Lenderman (guitar), Xandy Chelmis (lap/pedal steel), Ethan Baechtold (bass) and Alan Miller (drums). Hartzman writes most of her songs from her bedroom floor in Asheville, North Carolina. Nodding to ‘90s skuzz, shoegaze, and country, the music is gauzy and heady, a gnarled wall of sound where Hartzman’s aching voice and vivid storytelling cut through the din. Hartzman is a story collector as much as she is a storyteller; the newest and best Wednesday record, Rat Saw God, is autobiographical and above all, deeply empathetic. The band has long revered country lyricism, and the distorted lap steel innovations Chelmis unleashes are an ode to the genre; to the music and imagery of the American south, the sprawl of the forests, a black bear darting through the yard during a barbecue with friends, a muggy summer and the impossible darkness only lit by lightning bugs when it’s real late at night. To cite Aunty Meredith: “Rat Saw God layers all those beloved Wednesday pieces into something truly sublime. That twangy underbelly uplit by a wash of countrygaze and bright-eyed melodies. A stamp collection of ragged outsider anthems built around the small town vignettes of Karly Hartzman, whose gothic world-building conjures resplendently bleak southeastern vistas dotted with Dollar Tree discount stores, never-ending nosebleeds and cough syrup black-outs."
MJ Lenderman and his band also hail from Asheville, North Carolina, and are renowned for their righteously ragged live sets. MJ Lenderman’s latest single “Knockin” is a lightning-in-a-bottle distillation of what makes him one of the most captivating songwriters in recent memory, aptly described by Brooklyn Vegan as a “rollicking fusion of country and rock, twangy and heavy at once”. A tangle of warped pedal steel and scuzzed out guitar; a voice reminiscent of the high-lonesome warble of a choirboy; the keen observations and reflections of a front stoop philosopher. MJ Lenderman’s songs snake their way from a lo-fi home recording to something glossier made with longtime friends at a hometown studio, but the recording setting doesn’t seem to matter much – at its core, a Lenderman song rings true. His music spans stories about everything from a relationship disintegrating outside the high-end butcher shop to a love song built around a t-shirt kiosk at the airport, or the malaise of a grill rusting in the rain. Lenderman stories are delivered with a loping, easy vibe - a shrug of the shoulders, off-the-cuff fuzzy riffs and rock ‘n’ roll distortion culminating in alt-country cacophony.