Music Review

MJ Lenderman and The Wind – Live & Loose

todayNovember 16, 2023 134

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By – Kristi Houk

Recommended if you like:  Wednesday, Silver Jews, Jason Molina, Uncle Tupelo

I am not convinced that MJ Lenderman is actually from Asheville North Carolina. While, yes, Asheville is typically still below the Mason-Dixon line, Lenderman’s scorched Southern rock sounds more like it’s coming from someone born and raised in Limestone County, Alabama. 

Recorded live at Lincoln Hall in Chicago and at Lodge Room in L.A., these tracks are mainly off his brilliant 2022 album, Boat Songs and the double A-side singles, “Knockin’” a loose homage to Dylan’s classic, “Knockin on Heaven’s Door” and “Rudolph” the lazy, rumble complete with pedal steel and vocals reminiscent of the late Jason Molina clear and reluctant— “How many roads must a man walk down until he learns he’s just a jerk who flirts with the clergy nurse?” 

The set opens with blistering guitar that would make J Mascis proud on “Hangover Game” about a guy who essentially drinks himself to death. Fitting as these songs are played with a beer fueled swagger, teetering on losing complete control but Lenderman manages to keep himself and the band in check.  He’s on a mission to put the story first and if you’re from the south you know how important storytelling is especially when you can relate to it. For instance, on “You Bought Yourself a Boat” Lenderman describes an argument gone south, “The neighbors are cussing while throwing shit in the yard.” This is the stuff of backwoods towns and is where really great storytelling comes from. 

Lenderman’s music is a little bit classic rock, outlaw country, and a 90’s slacker Pavement vibe all rolled up into one fat joint to be passed around on top of the water tower. “I know we get fucked up, I know why we get so fucked up, I do.”    

Listening to Live & Loose is like waking up to the worst hangover but you welcome it by doing it all over again. This is about as authentic as southern rock gets. The future is with you, MJ.  

Standout Tracks: “Knockin,” “You Have Bought Yourself a Boat,” “Tastes Just Like It Costs”

Written by: kristi houk

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