While you might not know of the solo project MJ Lenderman, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Jake Lenderman’s guitar work as a member of one of my favourite bands of recent years, Asheville’s North Carolina’s Wednesday. This week Jake will share the new album, Ghost of Your Guitar Solo, his label debut for Dear Life Records, home to the likes of Karl Blau and Lindsay Reamer. The record was born out of a series of jam sessions, with lyrics inspired by a method championed by the late David Berman, where seemingly unconnected lines are written, with the majority scrapped, before the remaining ones are stitched together into the finished project.
Ghost Of Your Guitar Solo emerged from a particularly prolific period of writing, creating a sound that the band have described as, “country music being played by a noisy punk-band”, the tracks having a raw and ragged quality, the performance perfect in their wonderful imperfections. From the moment the record opens with its title track, resplendent with oozing, fizzing guitar line, you’re transported to a place of noisy sonic wonder. Elsewhere, I Ate Too Much At The Fair nods to the emotive fuzz of Wolf Parade, while the instrumental outro of Catholic Priest could be Neil Young jamming with Wilco. Lyrically, the record seems to walk the line between humour and darkness, taking inspiration from writers like Harry Crews and Larry Brown as Jake talks about over-indulgence, drugs, alcohol abuse and self-loathing, while never missing out on the absurdity and humour that life throws at us all. Whether it is a stop-gap between Wednesday albums, or the start of a newly focused solo career, Ghost Of Your Guitar Solo feels like an intriguing prospect; a record that celebrates life, in all its complex and often baffling glory.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is MJ Lenderman?
I am a songwriter from Asheville, North Carolina.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
I opened for The Districts and Sunseeker at The Grey Eagle in Asheville in October 2017. I was in my first semesters of college at UNCA. It was a Friday. After my one class I walked downtown and then to my parents house where my band used to practice. I rode to the venue with Xandy Chelmis, who was playing piano in the band at the time (he plays pedal steel now). He took the most roundabout way to get to The Grey Eagle. Both of us being Asheville natives believed we each knew the best way to get there and I argued with him the whole drive over. The show was good and there was already a pretty big crowd when we played.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Music has been the most consistent source of joy for me throughout my life whether I’m listening to it or making it. I like other art forms and try to paint sometimes but I am most comfortable with music.
FTR: What can people expect from the MJ Lenderman live show?
You can expect us to cook.
FTR: What’s next for MJ Lenderman?
After this release, I have another album ready that will be out in 2022. I am hoping live music will be safe again someday. I would like to tour this music with my friends.
They Listen To…
Les Rallizes Dénudés – Strung Out Deeper Than The Night
Laraaji – Today Is This Magic Quality
Pharoah Sanders – Love Is Here 2 (Live In Paris 1975)
Leon Russel – One More Love Song
The Dead C – Staver