If you were into the high school punk scene, then you remember being fifteen, standing in the crowded and damp cinderblock basement of the latest local guitar-wielding, amp-trashing miniature punk gods. Armed with crazed distortion and murderous lyrics, these guys maniacally beckoned you to join their lo-fi anarchic utopia. There were no pretensions–just a few guys absolutely destroying their instruments to the thrashing beats of punk rock. If you thought that this kind of rock was dead, you haven’t heard Jay Reatard.
No qualms, no bullshit–Jay Reatard represents everything that is good in the music world. The hysterical brilliance of his latest project, a solo album titled “Blood Visions” represents the culmination of an adolescence that is every fifteen-year-old, garage-show-playing-punker’s wet dream. After all, there are very few who can drop out of high school to score their first record deal, then seventy cuts and five bands later, come out on the other side naked and dripping blood on the cover of their first solo album.
Among the musically inclined progeny of Memphis, Jay Reatard, born Jay Lindsey, began a series of musical endeavors that led to his signing with Goner Records. From there, Jay developed a strong garage-based fanbase with his rambunctiously lo-fi namesake, the Reatards. Devout to the core, his fans followed him through his more recent projects, Final Solutions, the Lost Sounds, Angry Angles, and ultimately through to his solo stuff.
But don’t be fooled. While it was once very tempting to lump Jay Reatard’s projects with the genre of garage rock (and many have), this label does not come close to satisfying the wall of raging lyrics, sick beats, and turbulent guitar riffs that is “Blood Visions.” “It’s more…really angry, caffeinated pop songs,” says Reatard, “Or a much dirtier Buzzcocks.”
Keeping himself more than busy promoting his album, Jay’s 180-show tour continues this Friday, February 22, at Reggies Rock Club. The show promises to be a fantastic display of the manic energy that, well, bleeds from every one of the tracks on “Blood Visions.” “We try to play as many songs as we can as fast as we can,” explains Reatard. His sets are short, dense, and boil down to “twenty minutes of totally freaking out.” After Chicago, Jay continues what seems to be an endless feat of getting his music heard. First, he’ll make a quick stop in Australia, then it’s back to the U.S. to continue his travels coast to coast. Texas, Arizona, California (where he’ll be opening for the Black Keys), New York, and the list continues. Despite the array of venues that lies before him, Reatard still maintains that Chicago is his favorite place to play. Jay Reatard is sure to put on a good show–one you won’t want to miss.
Reggies Rock Club, 2109 South State Street. February 22. Friday, 10pm. (312)949-0121. www.reggieslive.com. $12