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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: Wussy

by Dan Weiss

Artist Spotlight: Wussy


Wussy is quite simply the finest band of songwriters working. The rough-edged indie-rock troubadours are on par with Drive-By Truckers, peak R.E.M., Lucinda Williams, Mekons and Crazy Horse — except maybe even better. This year they released their fifth full-length, Attica!, which is also their darkest and strangest album. It veers from gut-punch rock ("Rainbows & Butterflies") to oil-lamp folk ("Halloween"), and is bedecked with piano flourishes that double as hooks on "North Sea Girls" and the anthemic "Teenage Wasteland" (no, not that one).

But these are merely additions to an already bursting store of classics, like "Crooked," "Motorcycle," "Soak It Up" and their signature tune -- the devastating he-said/she-said breakup aftermath "Airborne" -- all from their debut, Funeral Dress. Follow-up album Left for Dead was no slouch either, with the impossibly sweet and jangly "Jonah" and the vituperative spit-up about leaving your partner for "What's-His-Name." Things got even darker on 2009's Wussy, which won them Richard and Linda Thompson comparisons for Southern gothic tales like "Dreadful Sorry" and "This Will Not End Well." Strawberry brought back the melodies (and a pounding new drummer, Joe Klug) for beauties like "Magnolia" and rockers like "Pulverized" and "Chicken."

Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker's unique, intertwined vocal approaches, with multi-instrumentalist Mark Messerly's overlaid hooks and second axeman John Erhardt, all sound fresh and classic at once -- over five full-lengths they don't sound like they're slowing down in the slightest. Catch up with them while they're just warming up.

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