MJ Lenderman: And the Wind (Live and Loose!) (ANTI-) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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MJ Lenderman

And the Wind (Live and Loose!)


Nov 27, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Recorded at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall and the Lodge Room in Los Angeles, MJ Lenderman’s latest is a rare thing—a live album that’s actually worth the listen. Largely drawing from 2021’s Ghost of Your Guitar and 2022’s wondrous breakthrough Boat Songs, Lenderman pulls together a band, including Wednesday cohorts Xandy Chelmis on steel pedal and Ethan Baechtold on bass, that helps him reimagine his sometimes sparse, solitary songs as rocking rambles that groove and swagger in a way often considered illegal in the realms of indie rock.

It’s a maximalist approach to minimalist material that really, strangely, works. A whole dimension is added to favorites like “Someone Get the Grill Out of the Rain,” which remains as tender as you’d hope but takes on a sepia-soaked ’70s rock aspect when brought to life by that spidery steel pedal and grizzled guitar.

“Live Jack” goes from a recorded whisper to a live roar, while “Tastes Just Like It Costs” alters its step to more closely capture a picture-perfect Crazy Horse thrum. Even songs that remain relatively faithful to their original takes, like “TLC Cagematch” shift a little in their focus, a fresh color gel added to their aspect.

Recent single “Rudolph” vaults into full throttle pedal-stomping glory without losing its delicacy. On “Toontown,” Lenderman’s cracked croon is perfectly complemented by the clear ring of Wednesday bandleader Karly Hartzman as it rides into a true, rough explosion of sound before circling back to sweetness.

As it often recalls the translation of Bob Dylan’s material from album to stage in the late ’60s, it’s entirely fitting that the album closes with a cover of “Long Black Veil,” a song popularized by The Band, here augmented by folk outfit Styrofoam Winos in a niche 2020’s take on a Last Waltz all-star jam.

Indebted to Lenderman’s clear adoration of a very specific kind of good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll, the very best kind, one might humbly offer, but anchored by his emotive, careful songwriting, And the Wind (Live and Loose!) is not the on-stage retread of the familiar we’ve come to expect from countless, thoughtless live releases. It’s an expansion of Lenderman’s expression, an organic outgrowing of ideas from imperfect but beautiful seeds, come to beautiful bloom. (www.mjlenderman.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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