Rat Saw God is the fifth album from Asheville-based countryish noise rock band Wednesday.
The record starts off with Hot Rotten Grass Smell which channels My Bloody Valentine. It's a wall of squealing guitars and the voice buried under the layers of noise. It's only a minute and half long and then it fades into Bull Believer, which is sort of a continuation, a part two. The same general noise continues, until the band builds to a real squealing feedback wall with vocalist Karly Hartzman screaming.
Although Bull Believer is an enjoyable noise rock tune on the whole, ending it with three minutes of screaming and feedback is a sort of gatekeeper moment. Wednesday are showing you their noisiest moment up front, to drive out people who cannot take such things. I warn you of this, because when i excitedly played this record for my girlfriend (who is, to be fair, a Known Deadhead), she could not get through this part. The noise and the yelling is too much for her.
And that is a shame, because the album calms down into quality southern-fried rock with a hint of noisiness. In fact, i think this is an amazing record, and that Wednesday are on to something. But, well, those first 10 minutes keep some people away. Or maybe that only applies to people who listen to albums in order, which i guess is kind of old fashioned anymore. At any rate, if you play the tracks in the intended order, there is a bit to get through before the record settles down.
Okay, moving along, after the noise fades out Wednesday give us Got Shocked, a catchy tune with see-sawing guitars as Hartzman sings about getting shocked due to bad wiring at their practice space. It's energetic and fast, the band here sounding like a classic mid 90s shoegaze act, such as Swervedriver or Ride.
The country element takes over on Formula One, where Hartzman drawls slowly alongside strummed acoustic and whining pedal steel, her voice lethargic as the instruments barely move along.
But then Wednesday give us a truly classic song, Chosen To Deserve. It starts with vocalist Hartzman describing a universal truth that i, personally, have never thought about before:
She is telling you the worst stories so that you know "what you're dealin' with". Damn. That is a deep thought, the other side of "putting your best foot forward". But you have to tell people more about yourself in time, right? The truth of your "worst" stories comes out eventually. (And before you get worried that this is the band of a psychopath or something, Hartzman's "worst" stories are bored suburban teenager shenanigans. Nothing to be proud of, but nothing the police will investigate either.)
"We always started by tellin' all our best stories first
So now that it's been awhile, I'll get around to tellin' you all my worst"
Wednesday pair this with a country rock trill driven by acoustic guitar and pedal steel, with electric guitar on overdrive during the choruses. It's a heck of a tune, and shows that Hartzman has a way with words.
On Bath Country Hartzman tells a rambling story about leaving Dollywood and getting stuck in traffic, witnessing an overdose, and singing along with The Drive-By Truckers. The band really hammers at it here, distortion on the guitars to make this sound more shoegazey than the previous few tunes.
Then band is at its catchiest on Quarry, just bouncing along happily, getting louder on choruses, the voice almost getting lost in the guitar noise. Beautiful.
Turkey Vultures is a different sort of song for Wednesday. It starts very slowly, Hartzman's voice and some faint tinkling guitar, and then the rhythm comes in and the song builds slowly, monotonously the beat just growing, the noise swelling up, almost droning. It reminds me of The Velvet Underground, that sort of powerful rhythm. By the end, Hartzman is wailing, her voice barely able to be heard above the grinding guitar noise and some really powerful, thudding drumming.
Thankfully they slow it down for What's So Funny, guitars strummed and the drums like something from Codeine. And finally the record ends with TV In the Gas Pump, perhaps the poppiest number here as the guitars strum purposefully, driving the song along.
It's a great record, and i cannot recommend it enough. I first discovered Wednesday back in 2021, and this is the third album, in three years, i have followed them for. And honestly, they just keep getting better. Hartzman is really growing as a songwriter, finding the most humorous ways to tell the stories she wants to tell. And the band has grown around her with pedal steel, guitar, bass, and drums all managing to fuse noise and country and pop into one cohesive sound.
I can't wait to see what they do next.