>So many words to describe Jay Reatard, Maverick, Troubadour, Nonconformist, Rebel, Eccentric or maybe, Arsehole.  You heard me.  Somehow his fan beating antics seem to give him some edgy infamy among certain critics, but not me damn it.  The Youtube video of him ripping up a fans T-shirt and punching him back into the crowd after the unfortunate soul clambered onto the stage in his excitement (presumably for a bit of a dance, there was Noel Gallagher style rugby challenge on the cards from what I could tell) is pretty disgraceful.  Bad day of the office maybe?  Not if video two is anything to go by, this time showing him repeatedly putting the boot into another fans chest, yes fan – one of his fans.  It doesn’t end there of course, on another occasion Jay went toe to toe with a local nut job promoter (for apparently disrespecting the band before them) which was a pretty even affair actually, until the cowardly guitarist planted his axe into the head of the promoter from above.  After listening to the CD and then watching those videos my joyful foot tapping demeanour had soured to a head in hands stomach turning one.  But hey maybe I’m being over sensitive, John Lennon was a wife beater so lets get on with it.

 

The spunky low-tech garage (and I mean low-tech, literally sounding like it was recorded in a garage on a dodgy Nokia) noise itself is pretty good, JR is after all a prolific song writer.  With a career that started at age 15 and one that has run through several different bands and side projects, the Memphis man clearly has quite the history and plenty of material to choose from.  Track 1 kicks things off very nicely with the wonderful rampage of ‘Night of broken glass’ which belts ‘And I don’t wanna feel that way don’t wanna go back there, don’t wanna feel that ever and ever and ever and ever again’, possibly a quote from one of his gig going fans after a pummelling, but a stormer of an opening track none the less.  Yelping vocals and pounding skins in around 2 minutes is generally the order of the day on this album.  Sure after 17 tracks they can, at times blend into one ‘Dirty great racket’ as my Dad would say, but give each track the proper attention they deserve, and you’ll find there are few skippers and its actually pretty consistent. 

 

Its not all shouty garage though, ‘I know a place’ and ‘Its so useless’ for example wipe the early White Stripes comparisons from my mind and all of a sudden I’m thinking more along the lines of Punk noise makers The Cramps or Iggy And The Stooges.  Meanwhile album highlight ‘Don’t let him come back’ maybe a cover version of a Go Betweens song but defines what Jay can do at his best and is a real anthem. The simplistic, straight to the point, rough around the edges type angle is what this album is all about and for the most part it works well.  At times however, without that killer hook it can feel a little too rough arsed, see the likes of ‘It’s so easy’ or ‘Haunting you’.

 

When all is said and done this LP is a refreshing taste of the real alternative music that’s out there today, as opposed to the polished pop dreariness that masquerades as ‘Indie’.  In short, if you havn’t heard Mr Reatards work yet, I recommend you imagine The Hives without the sharp suits, a big label producer or even a studio for that matter and then imagine lead singer Pelle Almqvist kicking the shit out of you.