MJ Lenderman: Boat Songs [Album Review]

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MJ Lenderman
Boat Songs
Dear Life Records [2022]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Sometimes having too much music in a review stack can be a hindrance because you just know that you have overlooked something. It happens all the time around TFN because we are such a lean run machine as the third record from MJ Lenderman, which was released back in April, fell into my album void but is a record that deserves a great amount of attention no matter when it was released.

Jake Lenderman, aka MJ, is from Asheville, North Carolina and the guitarist for indie group Wednesday. His solo work has a very DIY vibe compared to Wednesday but retains its indie spirt. From the opening roller, “Hangover Game” you can hear Lenderman’s Gram Parsons meets J Mascis voice that is built for both country and indie rock. It is that dusty road that many bands travel like Drive-By Truckers, Son Volt and Old 97’s but where MJ turns the narrative a bit is that his music also reflects some elements of Neutral Milk Hotel, Built To Spill and Yo La Tengo. This Americana meets articulate indie rock gives every track on Boat Songs its own unique groove and confidence with just a touch of polish above a true lo-fi delivery.

The songs here also pull you in with some of Lenderman’s point of fact dry humor lyrics like on “Under Control” when he closes with, “For what used to scratch the itch; And then some day it quit; Ain’t that a bitch.” Or on “Dan Marino,” it’s hard not to smile when you hear “And looked at a cereal box; He did not see his face; Brady’s has replaced; Tom Brady’s has replaced.” You also have the full realization that Dan Marino will still be alright!

MJ Lenderman has released a timeless keeper in Boat Songs. The all-out rock found on “SUV” mixed with the slide guitar driven “TLC Cage Match” are highlights of how two sides of the rock spectrum can come together into an addictive mix as MJ Lenderman has released one of the more under the radar great releases of 2022.

“Hangover Game” / “Under Control” / “Taste Just Like It Costs”

Drive-By Truckers / Yo La Tengo / Pinegrove

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Thomas Wilde

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