Jay Reatard

Jay Reatard

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  1. Jay Reatard

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Ended: Active



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Don't be fooled by Jay Reatard's lazy lounge lizard persona - the American garage-popster is as busy a songwriter as they come. Known early in his career as the Memphis boy wonder, Reatard (born Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr) is now a thirteen year veteran boasting a cache of noisy pop releases both as a soloist and under the guise of various projects; The Lost Sounds and The Final Solutions, among others.

His first group, Tennessee punk trio The Reatards delivered its 1998 debut album Teenage Hate, giving 18-year-old Jay his first European tour and welcome respite from high school discontent and a dysfunctional family life.

"Escapism, that's what music is and that's why gets kids into it," insists Reatard over the phone. "I had this romantic idea that I wanted to quit school and make it in music. And it's kept me out of trouble and kept me sane and given me some sort of stability coming from my background."

A decade on and the prolific singer-songwriter has now released Matador Singles '08, a compilation of 7" tracks recorded at home last year while stuck in negotiation limbo with various labels.

"I get bored really easily and I tend to record a lot of stuff," he shrugs. "If I record something there's not a lot of thinking aside from 'ok, it's down, should I put it out or should I not?'. So these singles were released out of boredom really and there's nothing more boring that sitting around with labels talking business."

An avid fan of vinyl, Reatard cites the grassroots appeal of individually packaged 45's, each with its own artwork, as a motivating force in his work.

"I wanted to somehow hold on to the aesthetic of the records that I enjoy most which are hand-made using stamps and photographs and all glued on by hand," he says. "It's so much more personal, kind of the opposite of MP3's."

A rootsy mix of lo-fi punk fuzz and power-pop sensibility, Matador Singles '08 highlights the calibre of Reatard's craft and his evolution from the distorted garage racket of his mid-teen drop out years to the versatility of his 2006 debut solo album Blood Visions.

"It's almost like you don't ever really see yourself age until you look at a picture of yourself from ten years ago," he says. "I kind of look at my records in that way."

Currently recording new material in his dining room, Reatard expects his next album, due in August on New York's Matador label, to be leavened by cello, harmonies and synthesizer, a new-found interpretation he jokingly refers to as "twee".

"Whatever that means! It's just one of those indie words that people tend to throw around for anything that's soft and melodic. So it's like my jab at the media. But I have 19 songs done and who knows what will end up on the record - it could go anywhere.

"Half of them are punk songs and half are very much inspired by the whole Flying Nun sound - so I'm caught in the middle. But I've gained a bit of confidence since my first solo album so I'm ready to throw the book out the window."

* Jay Reatard sadly passed away, aged 29, in January 2010.



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