Wussy are one of the most celebrated independent bands in the American Midwest, a band whose idiosyncratically thoughtful songs and atmospheric, forceful guitar attack have won them a fervent cult following and a growing stack of rave reviews, even if their acclaim hasn't translated into major financial success (as they were preparing to release their sixth album, the band's members still had their day jobs).
Wussy were formed by guitarist and singer Chuck Cleaver, who had enjoyed modest success in the '90s as a member of the Cincinnati-based band the Ass Ponys. After releasing the album Lohio in 2001, Cleaver decided to break up the band, believing he'd said all he had to say within their format. Not long after, Cleaver was asked to perform at a local music awards event, and he was nervous about appearing on stage alone; Lisa Walker, a fellow Cincinnati singer and songwriter, volunteered to perform with Cleaver, and they were pleased enough with the results that they continued working together. Adopting the name Wussy, Cleaver and Walker expanded the duo into a full band in 2002 with the addition of bassist Mark Messerly and drummer Dawn Burman. The group delivered its first album in 2005, Funeral Dress, which was released by Shake-It Records, an independent offshoot of a Cincinnati record shop. The celebrated rock critic Robert Christgau gave Funeral Dress an A rating in his column in The Village Voice, and became one of Wussy's most outspoken champions, in 2012 declaring "Wussy have been the best band in America since they released the first of their five superb albums in 2005."
In 2009, around the time Wussy released their self-titled third album, Dawn Burman left the group, and Joe Klug became their new drummer. After the release of Strawberry in 2011, the group had become popular enough to stage short tours of the East Coast as well as playing regularly in the Midwest, and in 2012 they headed to the West Coast for the first time, as well as opening for the Afghan Whigs on their well-received reunion tour. (Whigs bassist John Curley also produced several albums for Wussy.) By this time, Wussy had grown into a quintet with former Ass Ponys guitarist John Erhardt joining in on pedal steel and keyboards. In 2014, Wussy released Attica!, their fifth studio album and one of their best-reviewed projects to date, which Christgau awarded a rare A+ rating, while Spin Magazine named it one of the 50 best albums of the year. It also became Wussy's first album to be released in the U.K., when Damnably picked it up for British distribution. In 2016, Wussy returned to action with the album Forever Sounds. ~ Mark Deming