Wanda Band set to release new album soon


Mary-Stella Mangina, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Another significant emerging artist with ties to the Shoals is Wanda Wesolowski. The 27-year-old dynamo in the Southern indie rock scene was not born in Florence or Muscle Shoals. She lived in Florence for a spell while attending the University of North Alabama, a time during which she performed frequently at local venues.

Even though she lives in her native Huntsville, her native town, Wesolowski continues to make trips to Florence and regularly makes noise at local live productions. As a matter of fact, she was one of the many acts chosen by GRAMMY-winner Jason Isbell to play at 2022’s ShoalsFest, in Florence’s McFarland Park. Produced by Isbell, ShoalsFest has been a must-go event for three years. It was a verifiable success. Wesolowski’s involvement in it drew in loads of young music lovers. She played, like she usually does, with the support of her crew, the Wanda Band.

Two years out from their 2020 release of album “One-Hit,” the Wanda Band has several projects in the works. On Oct. 15, they did a set at the 51st Kentuck Festival of the Arts in Northport, a venerated outdoor fair held yearly in celebration of folk art. Other artists who graced the stage at the Kentuck Festival included John Paul White and Billy Allen and the Pollies, both of whom also participated in ShoalsFest.

Wesolowski said the band plans to drop a never-before-heard song called “Gotcha” at the end of October. Described by Wesolowski as a “spooky song,” the single will be available for listening just in time for Halloween, on streaming platforms Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music. What is more, the Wanda Band is at this time developing their second full-length album, the name of which will remain a mystery until further notice. 

“I’m really excited about the project,” Wesolowski said. “I think it’s gonna be big for the band. It speaks to us, so that means something, and we’re all proud of it, which means a lot to me.”

Wesolowski admits that while “One-Hit” was music fit for a breakup, her band’s new album will help listeners through identity crises and subsequent confusion. “It’s more personal [than “One-Hit”] in that it deals with my inner world and my thoughts on life and loss. My first album was my way of pointing a finger at the person who’d hurt me. This album is my way of looking in the mirror.” 

In a rapidly developing world with an uncertain future, Wesolowski feels it is necessary that people practice introspection. After all, it is only through knowing oneself that one can be fully comfortable with their neighbors. Not only is self-reflection important in Wesolowski’s daily life; it also plays a big part in the songwriter’s creative process. She said that along with internal meditation, the process through which she writes lyrics is strengthened by trial and error. 

Comparing songwriting to the popular art of thrifting, Wesolowski said, “Sometimes you’ve got to hit five thrift stores before finding a jacket that changes your life. You have to pick up every garment. Songwriting is the same way. When I write something and decide later that I don’t fully feel it, I jump ship.”

Part of what makes the Wanda Band’s music so meaningful is the platforms it gives ambitious and undiscovered artists. The album cover of “One-Hit” was designed by a young woman who, at the time of its release, was a high school student. Now in college, the designer will also create art to accompany the Wanda Band’s forthcoming single, “Gotcha.” The picture that will follow the group’s second album will be a product of Gaby Wolodarski, a professor at the University of Montevallo who Wesolowski met over the course of her time as a student at the school.

The Wanda Band’s music videos are recognized by their low-key, simplistic yet aesthetically-pleasing frames depicting band members jamming with laid-back enthusiasm. They have come to be with help from videographer couple Taylor Provecher and Alicia Eidsaune, friends of Wesolowski.

Wesolowski thinks regional artists’ visibility is of immeasurable importance at the moment. With Huntsville, the city where she was born and raised, growing at breakneck speed, she worries the city is causing artists to be priced out of their homes. 

“Local artists are not the ones [the city] cares about right now because we’re not the ones who can afford to pay $2,000 worth of rent every month,” Wesolowski said. “Those people are the people who Huntsville is currently building itself around.” In Wesolowski’s opinion, those overseeing Huntsville want to solidify its place on the map as a music city, but they turn a blind eye to those trying to do so on a local basis. She said, “That’s the reason why I moved back to Huntsville- my friends and I are working to create an organic arts scene on a grassroots level.”