Two particular themes commonly appear time and time again in garage rock; Self Deprecating humour, and a love of the Ramones. Its as if earnestly being able to take a jab at yourself finds its perfect backing track in pounding drums, screeching guitars and bleeding throat vocals. The Reatards are prime example of this, their name not only declaring what side of the musical spectrum they’re hanging out on (the 3 members adopting “Reatard” as their surname a reference to aforementioned punk legends, as well as Memphis hometown heroes the Oblivians), but also perhaps, that dumb on purpose is the new smart.
In celebration of the 15 year anniversary of the Reatards birthing their first beast of a long player, Goner have reissued the 1996 album Teenage Hate on both CD/Vinyl formats.
The album is drenched in the raw, primal energy that encompasses all of Jay Reatards extremely prolific output. The lyrics more shoved out then sung, the guitar amplifiers sounding as if they are constantly teetering on the edge of deciding they’ve had enough and either packing it in or starting an electrical fire.
Perhaps you can put it down to all three band members being Memphian (have a guess what that means) but buried under the screams and distortion there is undeniable early rock vibe on this album , particularly on, Gotta Rock n Roll, with its walking bassline and guitar shuffle, whilst the track Into My Bed would sit happily on one of Jay’s later solo albums. Lyrically, The subject matter is typically Jay: wanting a girl; being sick of a girl; wanting something to do; the frustrations of hometown boredom. As simplistic and everyday as these themes are, it is these emotions that are explored over and over on the majority of his works.
Unless your a fan of gritty, fuzzed out, rough-as-guts-on-purpose records, this isn’t the Jay Reatard album to first start off with. Its loud. Its abrasive. It sounds as though it were recorded on a cassette player in a basement. But you know what? It probably was. That’s the charm of it. For anyone who considers themselves a fan, this album is the beginning. And apart from the recording quality cleaning up a bit, its pretty cool that not much changed.