Record Review by Adam McKibbin
Posthumously lionized by loyal fans and rock critics, Jay Reatard was definitely an antidote to anyone who felt bogged down by gutless indie-rock bands and glossy pop music. By all reports, he was constantly making music, so we are probably just tiptoeing into what will become a posthumous ocean to make 2pac proud (please, easy on the leftovers). Teenage Hate is the portrait of the artist as a pissed-off young punk, banging out music with cohorts Elvis Wong Reatard and Steve Albundy Reatard. In case their names didn’t make it clear, they weren’t interested in political correctness. To Reatard’s credit, his fire wasn’t confined to the stage as part of a put-on persona; if you’d listened to “When I Get Mad” when Teenage Hate was originally released, you wouldn’t have scored any points for boldness by predicting that the singer would get in a dust-up or two over the years.
The reissue also includes a couple of cassettes, adding up to 39 brisk tracks. There’s some great stuff. They were a brash and muscular trio, raucously and unapologetically lo-fi, sometimes threatening to go off the rails altogether. Memphis was home (one of the cassette titles: Fuck Elvis Here’s the Reatards) and there are some echoes of ragged roadhouse blues-rock in these early tunes; “Memphis Blues” is one highlight, thanks in large part to Jay Reatard’s bellowing. The boy had the blues, alright – it just may have been a special case of ‘em. On the stormy conclusion of “Down in Flames,” he outshines the average hardcore screamer. The more unhinged he gets, the better the songs become (in most cases). Elsewhere, he seems like a kindred spirit to Kurt Cobain; everything about the Reatards makes them seem like the sort of band whose name Cobain would have Magic Markered on a t-shirt before some big show or magazine shoot.
There’s some not-so-great stuff, too – which almost feels like a controversial opinion, given the level of lionization that’s involved with Reatard’s catalog, but would normally go without saying for a band so young and raw. Suffice to say that Reatards weren’t exploring 39 different formulas during these 39 tracks; there are multiple occasions where tracks bleed into each other without much notice, and numerous tracks reappear in different form. Even if there are better entry points for Jay Reatard newcomers, though, Teenage Hate is still recommended even for newcomers. And it’s a must-own for the fallen hero’s fans, and on more than “curiosity / see where he came from” grounds.
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Making Friendz - Social Life
Helmet - Interview
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