Posted by: on October 9, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Jay Reatard, Matador Singles ’08 (Matador Records, 2008)

MP3: “See/Saw”

Over the course of the year, Memphis’ fuzz-punk purveyor Jay Reatard has been something of an indie-tabloid fire starter. Last April, at a typically wild gig in Toronto, Reatard punched a “fan” directly in the face, after said fan spilled beer all over Jay’s beloved effects pedals. At this Summer’s past Pitchfork Music Festival, Reatard joined King Khan and Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox for an impromptu set (thrown together while awaiting the arrival of Cut Copy). However, instead of thrashing away at his trusty Flying V guitar, Reatard was instead seen screaming nonsense into the microphone and eventually sticking a flower up his ass — birthing the appropriately named supergroup “Buttflower” in the process. And just recently, in an interview accompanying a blistering 3-song set for AOL’s The Interface, Reatard claimed that he felt no connection to the current political climate, and that he spends too much time in other countries to even care (at one point even saying, “Obama your momma”). Apparently, disenchantment is the new Obama t-shirt.

Anyway, whether or not we condone these types of behaviors is somewhat secondary to how much we have fallen in love with the hyperized pop/punk that Reatard has now become almost legendary for producing. Like a Buzzcocks-obsessed version of Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard, Reatard’s prolific nature has led him to release countless albums and singles over the years, with outfits like the Reatards, Lost Sounds, Final Solutions, as well as under his own name — most notably the 15-song onslaught that is 2006′s Blood Visions. This past summer, In The Red Records released Singles 06-07, a sort of retrospective housing Jay’s 7″ chunks of wax released over those same years. Running from garage-y punk to out-and-out jangle-pop, the album was not only a great introduction to the Reatard, but the first indication that the guy was capable of more than appropriating a spot-on British accent. In turn, the collection hinted at the possibility that the sound of future releases might be a bit harder to pin down.

The reception and quality of both releases also got him signed to Matador Records (longtime home to Guided by Voices, oddly enough). With the indie giant now behind him, Reatard was given the green light to continue his obsessive habit of releasing 7″ singles, and before year’s end, six of them existed on record store shelves and with online retailers alike. Keeping in mind the current climate of the record industry, though — and the fact that, “Hey! Nobody buys music anymore!” — the fact that Matador would get behind such an idea in the first place only seems to promote Reatard’s viability as a songwriter, and not some silly punk kid from the South with too much time on his hands.

But with all things hair-brained and risky, the reason to do it really comes down to simplicity: in this case, for lack of a more intelligent descriptor, the songs contained on Matador Singles ’08 (the collected version of the aforementioned Matador singles) are good as fuck. Lo-fi, yet hardly crude, quick in pace, but nowhere near forgettable, Reatard continues to prove that he’s on a roll, perhaps rejuvenated by the signing to a new label and his new-found status as punk’s next savior. Touching on everything from Superchunk-esque indie punk (“See/Saw”), caffeinated acoustic pop (“Screaming Hand,” “No Time,” “You Were Sleeping”), to organ-laced sock-hop jams (“You Mean Nothing To Me”) and Wire-ish reverberated art-punk (“Trapped Here,” “Dead On Arrival”), Reatard manages to nod to everyone from ? And the Mysterians, Supergrass, and Buddy Holly, to kiwi-popsters like the Go-Betweens and the Bats — even throwing in a paranoid cover of Deerhunter’s excellent “Fluorescent Grey” for a welcome curveball.

So whether or not Reatard’s public persona is growing continuously viral, with Matador Singles ’08, there’s no question that his music is continuing to be increasingly vital — and we can’t wait to hear what comes next. Hopefully Buttflower makes an apperance. — Ryan Allen

Jay Reatard plays the Magic Stick w/ Cola Freaks & Terrible Twos on 10/15.

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Posted by: on July 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm


Supergrass, Diamond Hoo Ha (Parlophone, 2008)

MP3: “Diamond Hoo Ha Man”

Whether being depicted as teenage scruffs trying to avoid getting “caught by the fuzz,” or as other-planetary Major Tom’s, Brit-pop survivors Supergrass have always been cast as zany classic-rock revivalists that don’t mind hamming it up for the camera. Look to any of the group’s videos throughout their fifteen-year career, and you’re as likely to find them biking around town, sporting t-shirts with their names splayed on them (“Alright”), as you are watching them become elastic-limbed puppets (“Pumping On Your Stereo”), bop around on pogo-sticks (“Late In the Day”), or impersonate homeless guys (“Rush Hour Soul”). Where the band has succeeded, and perhaps where other Brit-rock contemporaries like Oasis and Coldplay have tripped up in the “personable” department, is that they’ve managed to be taken mostly seriously by not taking themselves too seriously — no wonder Dave Grohl is a big fan. So it should be no shock that in the video for “Diamond Hoo Ha Man” — the single from this year’s Diamond Hoo Ha — Supergrass assume the identity of fictional German two-piece Diamond Hoo Ha Men (with singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes as “Duke Diamond” and drummer Danny Goffey playing the part of “Randy Hoo Ha”). But don’t expect Kraftwerk-ian blips and bleeps; in both song and on film, we’re getting classic Supergrass. The riffs are heavy, still tipping it’s glitter-encrusted hat to the likes of 1970s glam-champions T. Rex and the Sweet, as we watch the boys — in character, of course — gallivant like the rockstars they are pretending to be (and are, at least in England). And yes, we know this is a record review, but it goes without saying that by using the video and single as evidence, Supergrass are comfortable being, well, Supergrass. Album highlights like “Rebel In You” — with it’s “Coming Read more

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Posted by: on May 28, 2008 at 6:00 pm


Supergrass, “Alright” (Capitol Records, 1995)

“We are young, we run free, we’ve got teeth, nice and clean.” Well, maybe not so much anymore, Gaz. Though we’re still not sure how we feel about Supergrass’ new Diamond Hoo Ha (though “345″ is kind of the jam), nothing gets our blood pumping like this bouncy number off of their classic I Should Coco album. The video Read more

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