This release is a gathering-together of the "slew of singles and EPs on labels across the globe" (it says here) that Jay Reatard
, former front man for The Reatards
and Lost Sounds
released, in limited quantities, following his debut solo album, 2006's Blood Visions
.Â The 17 re-mastered tracks found herein serve as a useful primer to this prolific rocker's work.On my first listen-through, I mentally assigned much of this album to the "dumb fun" category, and indeed, on repeated listenings this holds true - musically, at least.Â The mainstay of Reatard's sound is a garage-y punk-y rock (without ever being - quite - straightforward "punk rock" or "garage rock").Â Many tracks riff repeatedly on a central lyric: "Night of broken glass / It was a night of broken glass
" (â€˜Night Of Broken Glass'), "Yes we both get what we ask for / We both get what we ask for"
(â€˜I Know A Place'), "And now I need you / And now I need you"
, and the default backing is workmanlike and pared down.With a little more concerted attention, however, things start to become more varied and thus more interesting.Â Lyrically, Reatard owes much to the "Blank Generation" school of nihilism.Â A jaded, negative view of life and love builds up - "Don't you hold anything too close / Cos one day you'll have to let it go
" (from â€˜All Over Again'), "I'm feeling blank again / Walls close
" (â€˜Feeling Blank Again'), and "I'm just filling time instead of killing you
" (â€˜It's So Useless') are fairly representative.Â Sometimes these lyrics are drawled, other times almost shouted in frustration and anger, with other voices joining Reatard's for emphasis.Musically the formula does vary too.Â Organ sounds are added in to the mix on tracks like the caffeine-juddery skitter-rock of â€˜Another Person', adding another layer of interest; and â€˜All Over Again' courts a 1950s rock â€˜n' roll sound pretty successfully.Â The sound of breaking glass is invariably a good thing on a punkish track, and is an excellent way to start the album off on, err, "Night of Broken Glass
".Â Vocal harmonies are also (sparingly) used - bringing a softer sound, for example, to â€˜I Know A Place' and â€˜In The Dark' (the latter featuring a vocal delivery that sounds genuinely anguished, in appropriate reflection of the lyrics).One of the two most interesting tracks is â€˜Don't Let Him Come Back' - for all the world like a early Beatles track or, more realistically, a lost Nuggets
contribution.Â You almost expect a cod-Scouse accent when lines like "Don't let him come back"
are delivered.Â The other standout is â€˜Let It All Go'.Â This features a heavy-handed synth riff that sounds almost like some unsophisticated early â€˜80s electro, plus a rolling drum accompaniment, and is the closest that Reatard comes to anything that could be described as experimental.Â Coming towards the end of the album, this works well and revives interest at a point when it is in danger of flagging a little.Â I particularly also like the way that the quick-fire repeated line "let it all go
" is used almost as if it were an instrument rather than a vocal, as it builds to the track's dissonant crescendo.You know what?Â This is actually a bit of a gem.Â The world-view may be embittered, but the music sounds anything but.Â And in these days of near-prog Post Rock flights of fancy, clever-clever orchestration and the like, Jay Reatard's simple and urgent down an' dirty garage rock hits the spot like a refreshing pint after too much poncey fine wine.80%Links
Jay Reatard [blog