The Barbaras - 2006-2008 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Barbaras

2006-2008 (2012)

Goner Records

So the story of the Barbaras goes like this: having garnered a reputation in the Memphis scene with their wild, costumed live shows and zany take on psychedelic garage rock, Jay Reatard took notice of the five-piece band and volunteered to produce their music. With the promise of releasing a full-length on In the Red Records, they set about committing their songs to tape. Things began to go south when bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Billy Hayes joined Reatard’s band, causing turmoil within the ranks of the Barbaras. Things really went south when Pope and Hayes eventually left Reatard to join the band Wavves. Incensed with his former friends and bandmates, Jay Reatard declared that he had deleted all of the Barbaras’ songs from his hard drive in a rage. Following Reatard’s death in 2010, however, the Barbaras’ unreleased songs were found to actually still be present in his files. Thanks to Goner Records the music of the Barbaras, released under the simple title 2006-2008, finally was allowed to see the light of day.

And it’s a good thing that Jay Reatard wasn’t a man of his word, because this collection is a gem. Sounding very much like a musical hybrid of both Jay Reatard and Wavves, the Barbaras deliver their trippy, twisted brand of poppy garage rock with a mixed bag of ingredients: '50s rock n’ roll, '60s psychedelic, a dash of the Clash and a pinch of Dead Milkmen-esque punky rambunctiousness. Suitably lo-fi, the songs on 2006-2008 capture a band in the midst of creative heights, delivered with an anything goes attitude. In a word, the Barbaras are fun, and judging from photos, their live shows were truly a debaucherous spectacle to behold.

The fun begins with “Day at the Shrine,” a bouncy number that culminates in a series of la la la’s that sound as if sung by a chorus line of demented Smurfs. “Grief Touches Everyone” is a particularly Dead Milkmen-influenced romper, with a similar influence found on the somewhat spastic song “Devour the Jungle Dear.” “Topsy Turvy Magic” and “Breathing Underwater” are a couple of the more mellow tracks, borrowing heavily from the rock n’ roll stylings of the '50s and '60s. “Superball” sounds like it could have been ghost written by Clash-era Mick Jones, and is one of the best songs on the album. It is the psychedelic little flourishes peppered throughout that differentiate the Barbaras from their contemporaries. An example is the keyboard lead found on “Why Should I Love You?,” one of the more bizarre tracks on the collection. It is the sonic equivalent of doing Whip-Its while watching Saturday morning cartoons, and is so trippy that it demands many a replay.

No garage rock record collection is complete without the Barbaras. Strange, manic, and catchy, you are unlikely to hear music more fun than this any time soon. There may be a reason Jay Reatard didn’t have the heart to delete these songs -- the Barbaras were too good to go to waste.