Jay Reatard: Matador Singles '08
RIP Jay Reatard (May 1, 1980 – January 13, 2010). This post was written before his tragic death and we were going to edit it (as it reads a little tasteless now). However, on reflection, we felt that this post was a suitable tribute to Jay’s formidable talent.
I was at a play the other week about an alcoholic 28-year old creative director who has it all but throws it away because of his addiction. The sick thing is that instead of feeling for his plight as his life spiraled further out of control, I found myself resenting how much he had to lose. “I’m 28” I thought, “How come I don’t own an apartment with harbour views?”
You know you’re getting older when you find yourself comparing your age with those that have achieved more.
So it is with Jay Reatard (born Jimmy Lee Lindsey), the precocious and prolific punk rocker that started making music when he was barely 15. He has since played with The Reatards, The Lost Sounds, The Bad Times, The Final Solutions, Shattered Records and the Angry Angles before releasing his first solo album in 2006.
Imagine my horror when I discovered that he was born in 1980. While that still makes him slightly older than me I’m unlikely to bridge the gap in a matter of months. Particularly as I can’t play an instrument.
And yet I can find it in my heart to muster goodwill for Reatard, largely because his one-man garage punk revival gave 2008 the soundtrack it so badly needed.
Remember back in ’08? After the bankers had sucked our coffers dry and we woke up to find that in our drunken state we hadn’t only started dressing like it was the eighties, we even managed to out-do that decade’s horrific penchant for unsustainable excess. But at least as we threw our harem pants and ray-bans in the bin and joined the unemployment queue, we had Reatard’s raw, essential music to remind us that it doesn’t take much to make things of beauty.
Reatard and his label Matador also found an incomparably terrific way to release his rough and ready pieces of punk-pop goodness. Throughout the year they released six limited edition 7”, all of which sold out upon release. Interestingly, aside from the circular mnemonic and consistent typography, the sleeves are all unique and distinctive.
While Reatard made this feverish creative output look and feel effortless, on the cover of the resulting compilation we see the exhausted reality. Weighed down by his singles, with vinyl crawling up the wall, the sweaty and uncomfortable musician looks much more than his 28 years. Serves him fucking right.