From Matador: “Shortly after he began working with Matador Records, Jay Reatard with cohorts Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes set up shop at Matador’s downtown New York City office to play tracks found on “Singles 06-07”, “Matador Singles ’08”, and “Blood Visions.”
Our first time seeing Jay Reatard live! 10 years ago today. We were disappointed because he only played for 30 minutes. And he called all of us in the audience “boring fucks”. The horror!
On a side note – there’s a YouTube poster Reatard Live who has recently compiled a bevy of Reatard-adjacent (solo, Reatards, Lost Sounds, Bad Times, etc) live videos. Thank you to Reatard Live for all of these viddies, which as you can imagine, we at KLYAM can not get enough of. Jay’s influence on KLYAM may, without exaggeration, be one of the most prevailing.
2018: Nice Guys, Banana, Blue Ray, Pleaser – O’Briens Pub
2009: Jay Reatard, TV Smith, Pretty & Nice – Harper’s Ferry
Formal reviews won’t do this record any good; instead the notes on the sleeve that come from those closest to Angry Angles – Alix Brown (one half of the band) and Zac and Eric from Goner Records – tell the story of the band and this record better than any music writer will. The time frame is 2005, when Jay Reatard and Alix formed the band after the dissolve of Jay’s previous group, the synth heavy “dark wave” Lost Sounds. According to Zac, Angry Angles were Jay’s “return to punk, in a way. Still raw, but now more focused, with a pop sensibility.” They recorded a few singles in Atlanta and Memphis over the course of two years and even got some studio time in Montreal before Gonerfest 6 that culminated in three songs previously unreleased until now.
Unfortunately I was not hip to Angry Angles (or any of Jay’s pre-solo bands) prior to his death in January 2010. But upon listening to Angry Angles shortly thereafter, I was blown away. Listen after listen, this group became most certainly an all-time favorite, right up there with The Reatards and The Lost Sounds, both of which I also had no previous exposure. What stood out to me, particularly, with Angry Angles is sure they were dark and robotic (like The Lost Sounds), but they were mighty concise and sharp. Hook after hook. Jay’s quick fire/angular guitar playing, quasi Brit vocal inflection, easily identifiable drumming, and fat production – trademarks of what would be his solo style take root here. But this was a dynamic duo and Alix and Jay were musically perfect for each other, often taking the heaviest/simplest moments of Wire and Devo soundscapes and modernizing them with the relentlessness of your neighborhood garage band. It seems like Alix challenged Jay-isms to a most positive affect, to me, most apparently on “You Lied” stuffed with a more traditional sounding bouncy bass line and some piano.
Angry Angles no doubt were the basis for the direction that Jay chose to pursue throughout his mighty solo discography from Blood Visions through his final LP Watch Me Fall, which features a tune I never would have guessed was by Angry Angles — “Can’t Do It Anymore.” In fact the final three songs on here, which I mentioned were recorded in Montreal (and not by Jay himself) with drummer Ryan Rousseau, sound very much like Jay’s solo stuff. His obsession with doing it all himself, as Alix writes in her blurb about the album, gives insight into why they never saw the light of day until now. There are no ‘weak’ songs on here, all memorable jams, and I am so thankful for Goner for putting together this album. It is strange to think that over the past six years many of these songs like most of Side A and the first half of Side B have been so influential for me and I have played them over and over, if only via YouTube or a WFMU session. I’ll always say it and I know at least some others agree, the rock ‘n roll that came out of Memphis in the span of four years – 2005 to 2009 – is simply the best. Angry Angles, The Barbaras, Girls of the Gravitron, Boston Chinks, these are my favorite groups NOW. Back then I didn’t know such wonderful raw stuff. I was a teenager from Boston, MA, listening to The Strokes and The Libertines, damn was I missing out on the real good stuff, most of it coming from Jay and his adjacent friends and cohorts. I hope this record might incite or re-ignite passion, because Angry Angles and a healthy chunk of the Goners left (and still leave) an impact on me.
It’s Monday and I’m feeling tired already. So, here’s footage of Jay performing with The Reatards from wayyyyy back, way before my time. You can hear such Reatardian gems as “Stacye,” “It Ain’t Me,” and “Bummer Bitch.” This will wake us all up.
Label: Shake Your Ass Records
Comments: What was going on in the Memphis, Tennessee area in 2006? Aside from lots of ‘cuin (nah, I’ve never been there), ‘ckin, and whatever else, a group of dudes in their early 20s were making some odd rock ‘n roll. And most likely doing the same kinds of social activities that their peers had long engaged in. Memphis legend (in the eyes of the music types that matter) Jay Reatard was probably touring his ass off and likewise making a great deal of music. Now whether or not Tard and the dudes in Kazalok – Cole Weintraub, Bennett Foster, Billy Hayes, and Alex Gates – were bros at this point is unknown to me, but by the sound of Chandrasekar Limit, it seems not. Opening tune “Eolian Process” is a bit like Animal Collective, a campfire kind of song. “Cia”, however, is a complete rocker, almost calling to mind bands like Interpol and Tapes ‘n Tapes – heavy, but accessible (in the ‘indie’ sense of the word). On the last song of the A Side, “Caspian Sea,” we hear “the Caspian Sea ain’t what it used to be, in fact I think I’ll stay at home” – this is the cheeky early rock ‘n roll ballad that later associated bands like Girls of the Gravitron, even more so Barbaras, and Magic Kids a touch would take a gamble (and very much succeed) on creating. Is that the auto-harp I hear? It’s bizarre music, but not really for dudes like me who are fond of it.
The happy-go-lucky yet sinister thing continues on “White Devils” in its chirpy guitar lead, and ultra smooth rhythm. Sounds like the guys are having a bunch of fun jamming around and enthusiastically adding their $.02 to a demented vision of pop music. I like the vision. “Summertime Worksong” might be the least off-kilter of the bunch. I’m really feeling The Loon vibes on there. The quintessential Memphis finale as I call it is “Ping Pong With The Stars” which is not easy “’cause it’s light years away” is like Barbaras closer “Annual Botanical” – led by acoustic guitar strums; a final story that documents friendly ole times… that one summer. This kind of – everyone join in – joy, isn’t something you get very often. The Lovely Feathers did it right on Hind Hind Legs. It’s a loss to music that this isn’t some kind of widespread, noteworthy EP. Of course, I love it more because I’ve been following this family tree for some time now. If you haven’t really been tracking these guys closely or if you don’t even know what I am talking about, I wouldn’t really start with Chandrasekar and work your way up. Especially not if you are expecting a clean, straightforward sound throughout. In that case, I’m not sure. The production on this is decidedly scrappy – a better audio experience than Let It Bloom and Smith Westerns and laughable compared to say Blood Visions. Stephen Pope (formerly of Boston Chinks, Barbaras, Jay Reatard, currently in Wavves) recorded it. He did very well. This EP is also outside the realm of a lot of the garage stuff, which might be why some have overlooked it. Whatever though — this is something that might be hard to get your hands on (check Florida’s Dying), but go on, get a hold of Kazalok somehow. You can write your own review.
This show happened. When it was announced that Jay Reatard would be opening for Pixies this evening, us dudes became beyond excited. Pixies playing Doolittle was enough to go nuts over, but man, it was just two months ago that we witnessed a fine Reatard (and Hunx/Nobunny/Box Elders/Useless Eaters) spectacle at Harpers Ferry. This announcement was insane.
Jay and his new backing band of Cola Freaks delivered in one of the strangest atmospheres he/they probably had ever played in. The modest crowd seemed puzzled by Jay’s performance and even more so the guy by the merchandise section who called him “Johnnie Reatard”. Either way, the KLYAM gang witnessed an amazing thing, something that afterward had us craving for more; we wondered when Reatard and crew would be back. Was this every 2-3 months of playing Boston going to become a habit? We hoped.
There are not many accounts of this show that mention Reatard. There are some, including our review of the show. Check it out: https://klyam.com/2009/12/04/concert-review-the-pixies/
If you were there for this and want to share any memories or what have you, go for it! It would be awesome to hear other perspectives.
This is the first time I have heard this version of “Tiny Little Home,” which now appears as a Watch Me Fall bonus track. Jay recorded a demo back in March 2008 and I presume gave it the full Reatard treatment a short while later.
The modern classic “Day at the Shrine,” originally recorded and released on The Barbaras 7″ which came via Goner in 2008. The 7″ version is very quiet and lo-fidelity, but features the same kind of awesome pop magic that this Jay Reatard produced version has. This version is better!
Check it out via MTV Hive: http://www.mtvhive.com/2012/10/18/barbaras-day-at-the-shrine-stream/
Some lengthy Jay Reatard performances can be found on the great YouTube – you just gotta do some digging! Well I did the digging and here’s what I got:
The Reatards Live At Fallout Records (November 1999) – 25 minutes – Full in store recording. Jay apologizes for the band’s sobriety. The sound quality is a lil fuzzy (whaddaya expect?), but fans will recognize the tunes!
Jay Reatard Live In Australia – 36 minutes – Back when Billy was on drums and Stephen was on bass.
Jay Reatard Live In Dublin (November 2009) – 20 minutes – This is after Billy and Stephen quit and the Cola Freaks came into the picture as Jay’s backing band. I remember watching this a day or two before seeing Jay at the Wang and thinking damn, these guys got the hang of things quickly! Not to mention that it seems apparent that the addition of the new guys slowed things down quite a bit which I’d argue was for the better.
Been eagerly waiting for this announcement for a year! Better Than Something is screening at the Museum of Fine Arts:
August 30, 2012, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
August 31, 2012, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
September 1, 2012, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
September 2, 2012, 1:10 pm – 2:40 pm
Better Than Something by Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz (2012, 83 min.). Controversial and prolific garage rock icon Jay Reatard released more than 60 records in his 10-year-career as a solo artist and with bands like The Lost Sounds, Final Solutions, and Angry Angles. Eloquently interweaving interviews with friends, rare concert footage, and scenes from a candid week spent with Jay, this intimate portrait—shot only months before his death—brings us incredibly close to Jay’s complicated punk-rock world. Discussion with directors follows the August 31 screening.