August 7, 2023

MJ Lenderman - "Knockin (Single Version)"

MJ Lenderman turns up the fuzz on the single version of his track "Knockin."

In 2021, Jake Lenderman put out an EP called Knockin' and two of the songs from that release ended up getting a makeover and were included on his excellent album from last year, Boat Songs. One song, the title track, is getting its reintroduction today, however, as the flip-side to his debut single for new record label ANTI. "Knockin" is another amplified alt-country banger that channels the surging guitar of Neil Young and Crazy Horse and J Mascis, but now offers up some new signs of influence as well. When he dropped his last single, the killer "Rudolph," he pulled the lyric "how many roads must a man walk down" from the legendary Bob Dylan song "Blowin' in the Wind" and this time Lenderman tugs on "Knocking on Heaven's Door." Of course Lenderman is recalling golf-pro John Daly's cover of the Dylan staple (yeah, that's really something), but it's clear he's taking an affection to the famed songwriter and expanding his musical inspirations. Even without the Dylan references, Lenderman's penchant for writing strong hooks and blown-out rockers seems to be coming into sharp focus and after jumping straight into the deep-end of recording and touring in the wake of the pandemic (Lenderman says he pretty much on the road non-stop from November 2021 to December 2022 between his solo work or as the guitarist for his main gig in Wednesday). Despite barely any time between gigs, his knack for writing and recording songs has remained a pivotal part of his artistry and his current streak of incredible work doesn't seem to be shoring up any time soon. Whether or not the bleak world Lenderman describes in "Knockin," one where the Daly version of the classic track is on repeat and the only bird calls you hear come from a hardware store, is the one of life on tour or back in the real world isn't super clear, but for a man who has logged as many miles as he has over the past few years, maybe those worlds start to blur. Still, there seems to be hope at the end of the tunnel. "Loneliness is simple / not much else is" he proclaims, but he also concedes that "Her love for me is real / She gives what she has to give / She gave me wings and I caught flight." It may be all she has to give (and the she in this case is Wednesday singer Karly Hartzman), but together this flight may be an escape from the dreary and mundane and the start of a wonderful new adventure that has only just begun to blossom.

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