Jay Reatard - Blood Visions (Cover Artwork)

Jay Reatard

Blood Visions (2006)

In the Red

Jay Reatard (né Lindsey) has spent the better part of decade and a half performing in some of Memphis' better-known independent rock bands. He fronted garage-punkers the Reatards and co-founded the Screamers-styled "blackwave" band, the Lost Sounds. But the Lost Sounds broke up rather unpleasantly in 2005, and the Reatards have been relatively inactive due to Mr. Reatard's solo work.

This record is Jay's first proper solo full-length. It shares more in common with Reatard's work with the Reatards, but the similarities are minimal. This record is a more relaxed take on garage-punk. It is still confrontational and aggressive, but it is a less snotty aggression than found in the Reatards' catalog.

This album is most definitely a punk album. But rather than following a path blazed by, say, the Clash or Ramones, Mr. Reatard has more in common with a band like Wire. The aggression comes with the same artistic edge that Wire had on their classic Pink Flag, but Reatard does it with the distortion up.

The guitar tone is fuzzy, but through the fuzz you can hear the intricate licks that Mr. Reatard is laying down. The bass and drums don't quite carry as much of the musical weight, but those instruments are not necessarily Mr. Reatard's forte. The vocal delivery, however, carries much of the weight on this album. Reatard's nasally, faux-British warble is reminiscent of early British punks, and gives the album a strange, paranoid feel. That paranoia is at its peak in the songs "Death Is Forming" and "I See You Standing There" when the vocals speed up to a frenzy.

Some listeners may find some of the lyrics over-the-top (i.e. "Fading All Away"'s "Time / will heal wounds / but I / will kill you / slowly / fading all away"), but then, they probably wouldn't by the album anyway based on the album cover. Other than killing people slowly, lyrical themes include men in garbage cans drinking piss from jars ("Puppet Man"), shadows ("My Shadow") and the Reatard family ("My Family").

This is an excellent record from an interesting voice in the punk scene. Recommended for fans of bands like Black Lips, Wire and garage or punk in general. Also, go see him before the Pitchfork crowd gets too thick -- you may not get punched.