BLOOD VISIONS - Jay Reatard (Stained Circles/In the Red)
With a stage nom de plume like Jay Reatard – allegedly inspired by Memphis garage legends The Oblivions – Memphis garage rocker Jay Lindsay was never likely to lapse into the practice of playing lightly buffed and insipid rock’n’roll. One look at Jay Reatard’s Blood Visions confirms this deduction. Stripped to his jocks, splattered with mock blood and wearing the hang dog expression of a man unsure of the next roll of life’s dice, Reatard is a man who seems perfectly content residing in left field.
Reatard is something of a musical prodigy. Apparently he was doing all sorts of weird garage shit in his bedroom when the rest of his teenage contemporaries were drooling over Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions and enjoying the economic and social freedoms of the Clinton era. Sometime in the late 1990s he formed the Reatards, then found a couple of sympathetic souls and started gigging as the Lost Sounds. There's various other projects in the mix as well, the type of activities you'd expect a kid with too much energy and excitement to gravitate to, if only to quell the temptation to get into kleptomania and masochistic abuse to occupy spare psychological space.
Blood Visions is Reatard's debut solo album, released originally in 2006 on In the Red Records and now released in Australia on Stained Circles to coincide with his impending tour. Blood Visions is good, very good in fact, partly for the music, partly for its artistic style and partly for its insight into the mind of Jay Reatard the emerging punk rock icon.
On a glib, monosyllabalic level, Blood Visions is punk rock, pure and simple in its three chord anti-establishment glory. Skip straight to Turning Blue and you’re battered across the frontal lobes with the brutal reality that punk rock is the most primitive, and expressive, musical genre on offer, the style of choice for anyone who feels disenfranchised, pissed off or just plain fucked up, and whose concept experssion is to scream and thrash a guitar until a state of absolute catharsis is achieved. On a musico-historical level, Blood Visions is a journey back in time to when punk rock turned up late to the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, scoffed all the free booze and puked all over the plush carpets – the title track could be a bloodied incarnation of ATV, and My Shadow, Death Is Forming and We Who Wait invoke the spirit of the punks inspired by the Sex Pistols and cajoled into action by Thatcher’s attacks on human decency.
On an artistic level, Blood Visions is all about Jay Reatard, the man and his art. Reatard’s vision is all his own – the distended guitar sounds, the psychotic lyrics, the abrasive production, the whole kit and caboodle. In a world smothered into docility by spin and superficial platitudes, Reatard is the real deal, from the angle grinding power pop of Oh It Is Such a Shame, to the psycho-apocalyptic angst of Fading All Away, to the deep fried angular fuzz of Waiting For Something.
Reatard’s tour of Australia has apparently been contracted on account of his burgeoning international popularity. That makes it even more imperative to drag your sorry punk rock arse to see the man, his music and his bloodied vision of life while you have the chance. - Patrick Emery
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