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Matador Singles ’08 – Jay Reatard

by Aidan Roberts

This prolific Tennessean punk-rocker has spent all of 2008 recording and releasing a series of high-powered 7-inch singles, all of which are presented here in sequence, complete with their b-sides, forming a kind of gigantic garage pop odyssey. Reatard’s work with his previous band, the, er, Reatards, was a lot closer to the essence of punk. With these singles, JR has adopted a less catastrophic sound, focusing on what he calls “noisy pop music”; highly melodic guitar-driven tirades of miserable relationships and self-worth issues, delivered in that time-honoured juxtaposition of happy melodies vs. dirty words. The singles are all strong, but what’s interesting is that it’s the b-sides that are the most potent here, Screaming Hand and An Ugly Death are powerful moments, gleefully reminiscent of Television at their hyped-up best. Middle America has a penchant for creating cult icons out of its disgruntled youth, certainly in the indie music scene. Jay Reatard may go down as some sort of a historical figure, for his unabashedly ugly and infectious approach to melodic punk.