Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jay Reatard

  • Blood Visions [In the Red, 2006] A-
  • Matador Singles '08 [Matador, 2008] B+
  • Singles 06-07 [In the Red, 2008] **
  • Watch Me Fall [Matador, 2009] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Blood Visions [In the Red, 2006]
Memphis boy Jay Lindsey skipped high school and ignored hallowed local traditions while generating the 10 years of garage-punk outfits, one-offs, and seven-inches that fed into this 2006 solo debut. Manhandling all the instruments on 15 songs in 30 minutes, he bashes out a sloppy Ramones homage that gets the New Yorkers' tune-smart momentum without finding much comedy in "My family they never knew" or "See you in the park/See you doing well." As the Ramones discovered and Jay came in knowing, this trick is harder than scoffers will ever understand, and there's no reason to think he'll ever try it again. There's also no reason to think he'll ever learn how to spell S-T-A-X. A-

Matador Singles '08 [Matador, 2008]
Arranged chronologically in order of recording and release, these five two-sided singles, one three-song mini-EP, and one split seven-inch cohered better in their original formats--in sequence, the internally consistent comic-book gothic "Trapped Here"/"Hiding Hole"/"DOA" and sad-sack romance "No Time"/"You Were Sleeping" undercut rather than augment each other. It's not like Reatard is up to the level of classic Buzzcocks or something--his real but inconsistent pop gift can use a little shaping. So this hodgepodge will grow in meaning if he gets it together and sink from memory if he doesn't. B+

Singles 06-07 [In the Red, 2008]
Several of the best songs here aren't even the best songs on "Blood Visions," and then there's the momentum thing ("Let It All Go," "Hammer I Miss You"). **

Watch Me Fall [Matador, 2009]
Reatard lays more tune on his self-overdubbed g-b-d-and-sometimes-k and fuzzy fake-Brit accent than a Swede in an elevator with Miley Cyrus, all the better to tell the world that "there is no hope for me." That's how he gets to bop less talented fellow sufferers on the head at shows. It isn't just a living, it's a way of life, and he'll take it somewhere or there's no hope for him. Either way this testament of and triumph over dysfunction will remain. A-