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CD of The Week

Week of 5/08/23

    Wednesday - Rat Saw God (Dead Oceans)

    In somewhat of a strange coincidence, two of the most notable bands (Taking Back Sunday and Thursday) of the emo movement of the 2000s had days of the week in their names. Two decades later, Hot Topic sells more Funko figures than band t-shirts and Wednesday, from Asheville, NC, are building buzz with a sound that recalls Lollapalooza in 1993 more than the Warped Tour in 2003. Fusing together a singular blend of alt-country, grunge, and shoegaze, Wednesday establish themselves as a young band to be reckoned with on Rat Saw God, a remarkably perceptive album that is equally poetic and challenging.

    Frontwoman/lyricist/rhythm guitarist Karly Hartzman’s distinctive sensibility stands out immediately. She possesses a terrific wit and a keen eye for existence on the fringes of mid-size city America. On songs like “Quarry,” Hartzman vividly weaves stories of children having “scoliosis from constant slumps in misery” and small-time criminals that hide their “guns and cocaine” from the police in “drywall wrapped in newspaper.” The specificity of Hartzman’s lyrics is remarkable and her words are matched well by the band’s loose and diverse sonic palette that can range from the fuzzy noise of My Bloody Valentine to the rootsy timbre of early Wilco. Of particular note, is MJ Lenderman’s expressive guitar work, which utilizes reverb in surprising ways.

    While every track on the album has its strong points and unique images, “Chosen to Deserve” is the unmistakable centerpiece and a new classic of literate, Southern rock. A semi-epic tale of alcohol, drugs, and casual sex anchored by an infectious riff, the song encapsulates Wednesday’s ambition and spirit. The only real quibble with the album is sequencing. The eight-and-a-half-minute “Bull Believer” is an audacious song with a powerful climax, but ruins momentum as track two of Rat Saw God.

    Excelling as both a confident rock album and a tragicomic journey through the forgotten corners of America, Rat Saw God is a real breakthrough for one of the most exciting and prolific (five full-length albums in five years!) emerging bands in indie music. It’s easy to become entranced by the rich soundscape of the album’s ten songs, no matter what day of the week it is.

    Wednesday will be performing at Union Transfer on Saturday, June 17th.
    Review by Sol

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