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Jay Reatard
"Blood Visions"
In the Red, 2006

Itís easy to blame the godfathers of punk for the rip-off sounds that later followed. The Clash begat Rancid. The Buzzcocks begat Green Day. And the Ramones, well, they begat just about everyone.

Jay Reatardís former band, The Reatards, sounded like a sloppy-if-occasionally-tuneful take on the Angry Samoans and every other low-fi punk band circa 1984. But the 26-year-old Memphis singer-songwriter-producer (born Jay Lindsay) has clearly taken a further step back in time to grasp the sounds of old-school working-class UK punk, with Blood Visions, a blistering 15-song, 29-minute record that, upon first listen, sounds like vintage British thrash. If Reatardís faux English accent doesnít fool you on the title track, the pogoing rhythms of "Itís So Easy" or the Adverts-like "Nightmares" are likely to convince you that this is some long-lost punk masterpiece.

But listen closely. The productionís a little too clean and whatís with that giant, multi-tracked tunnel of feedback on "Oh, Itís Such A Shame"? As with Robert Pollardís love of '60's British pop (and his own bogus accent) informing much of Guided By Voicesí early output, Reatard takes a specific rock sound and makes it his own. "My Shadow" starts out with reverb-heavy vocal phrasing that sounds like mid-70ís Ozzy Osbourne before the song bursts open with guitar slashes and a screamed chorus reminiscent of Surfer Rosa-era Pixies.

All of the songs are filled with incredibly hooky choruses and guitar riffs; if you donít find yourself wanting to pick up a axe ó and here, the word "axe" is thoroughly appropriate given the amount of wailing Reatard does on the instrument ó after hearing the propulsive "Turning Blue" or "My Family," where the guitars shift between staccato yelps and a Buzzcocks-like drone, youíre probably dead. The fuzzy production buries the vocals in the mix a bit, but with occasionally dippy lyrics like "As sad/As it seems/Youíre turning blue/In my dreams," the songwriting is really not the point (as if the cover, featuring an underpants-clad Reatard slathered in stage blood, doesnít already clue you in). Reatardís goal is to make you jump up and down like a sugar-and-hormone-fueled teenager as he tries to knock you down with a wall of guitars. And dang if he isnít successful at that.

By Mark Cappelletty.
March 14, 2007

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