Friday, January 29, 2010


Jay Reatard was only 29 when he was found dead two weeks ago, but his output of work was massive. The dude was a songwriting machine and it wasn’t just the quantity of material, it was quality. I am a novice at best when it comes to his bands Lost Sounds and The Reatards, but his solo releases really blew me away and continue to do so. The singles he released on Matador and In The Red, and his LP’s Blood Visions and last year’s Watch Me Fall are all top notch. I saw an interview where he said that his prolific output was due to his race against time and his desire to expose his flaws, or “butt zits” as he so eloquently referred to them, to his fans and detractors alike. While some of his releases are no doubt far superior to others and I don’t claim to know his entire catalog, I’ve yet to find anything that completely misses the mark.

“Garage rock” and “lo-fi” are the ubiquitous labels attached to his music, but they aren’t really accurate. Lo-fi garage rock is rarely this well crafted and listenable. Jay hopped from speed punk to new wave to pop to the occasional ballad, and last year’s Watch Me Fall, which had even the mainstream critics flipping their shit, was a damned fine rock n roll record plain and simple. No fancy buzzword necessary.

I was sadly only able to see Jay live once; a short set at a CMJ show at the Mercury Lounge in 2007 where I was going to see The Dirtbombs. What I saw lasted only bout 15 minutes, but was exhausting and amazing. Jay, strapped with his trademark Flying V and head banging like a motherfucker, pummeled the audience with a machine gun assault of songs with little to no (if I recall correctly it was absolutely zero) space or talking in between. I don’t think I ever saw his or the bands’ faces, just long hair flying everywhere. I knew next to nothing about him going into the show, but have paid attention ever since. It’s rare for bands to have that effect live. Jay was the real deal. I don’t care to make any speculations regarding the circumstances surrounding his death or his lifestyle choices, but prefer to appreciate the tunes he left behind. Check out his cover of Beck’s “Gamma Ray,” and I dare you to get “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” out of your heard. I can’t stop listening.

-Charlie Duerr


Anonymous said...

i've been a huge jay reatard fan, he makes me laugh and makes albums i can listen to pretty much nonstop. i think in a way he knew it would happen so when it did i wasn't surprised as much as just sad that he wouldn't be making any more music.

Anonymous said...

i've been a huge jay reatard fan, he makes me laugh and makes albums i can listen to pretty much nonstop. i think in a way he knew it would happen so when it did i wasn't surprised as much as just sad that he wouldn't be making any more music.

clanchatti said...

I went to a show of his in Toronto at The Silver Dollar right after the release of 'Blood Visions'. The most fun I've had at a show in years. His talent and vivacity is greatly missed up here.

clanchatti said...

Also, upon showing this article to my friend, she is very pleased to learn that she isn't the only one with the butt zit problem.

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