I miss Jay Reatard. There was something pure and powerful in everything he wrote, and while it’s unfortunate that one has to go back and revisit his old projects before his fame broke, at least we can be grateful that they get to see the light of day. Angry Angles was his final project before going out wholly on his own, featuring Alix Brown of the Lids, and it definitely serves as the final notice to what was coming. There’s that distinctive guitar tone; there’s also a quality of evil and anxiety that fits in his lyrical work at this time (and in future works). I love the fact that this also displays his ability to go completely off the rails, yet have control of everything around him at the same time. Goner Records will be releasing a compilation of every piece of recorded material Angry Angles was able to put together in its short span; it comes out on May 20th.
Angry Angles was one of the many projects touched by the late Jay Reatard, and while many of the songs have been heard, they’re getting a good compilation effort from the folks at Goner Records. It’s just another thing to cherish in my JR collection, and remind me of the great songwriter we lost. I’ll probably go back and listen to some of his hits today, probably starting with that Matador Singles Comp; I loved that work. The compilation will be out on Goner on May 20th.
I typically don’t talk about covers, or really remixes for that matter, but I figured I had to talk about this one. Any band that covers Jay Reatard, and does it well, is okay in my book. Plus, “Nightmares,” the song chosen by The Echo Friendly, is my favorite all time song by Jay. Hearing it strung out for an added minute, with such a different spin is really something special. It also goes to show just what a great songwriter Jay was, able to put his own touches to great pop songs; he’ll probably be under-appreciated for too long. The duo will have their own debut LP coming your way in may, so keep a sharp eye out.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/NightmaresJay-Reatard-Cover.mp3]
It’s interesting to see the interest in the heavier side of music again, especially considering the dull releases of late 90s metal. One of the group’s that recently caught my attention was Deconstruction Unit, due to the group’s history with Jay Reatard. While the guitar work has a dark-tinged garage feeling to it (bleeding into psychedelia) the vocals have this historic Danzig quality to them, which is fitting with the group’s home near the Arizona desert. They’ll be releasing their Void LP on February 19th via Jolly Dream Records before heading out on the road to tour with Milk Music; they will also be making their way through Austin during SXSW and Chaos in Tejas.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Evil-Man.mp3]
Download:Deconstruction Unit – Evil Man [MP3]
Well, this is an old song, but it’s probably going to be brand new to those of us outside of Memphis who hadn’t heard of The Barbaras. Legend has it that Jay Reatard recorded the band, which featured Steven Pope (of his then touring band), but in anger told the band he scrapped the recordings. After his unfortunate demise, these tunes resurfaced on some of Jay’s old recording equipment, and the great people at Goner Records are going to be releasing the collection, The Barbaras 2006-2008, on October 30th. This track’s definitely made its way onto my daily playlist, and it has a mellower tone than some of the other tracks, just showcasing the songwriting of the group during their prime. Take a listen.
Almost less than a year ago, we got Too Young To Be In Love, the second (sort of) album from Hunx and His Punx. It was filled with its usual amounts of scuzzy punk and bits of kitsch. But, that era of frivolity seems to have dissipated, if only temporarily, leaving us with the first solo outing of Hunx. Unlike his normal gig, we find the man much more exposed, emotionally speaking, giving us a personal spin on his always affecting tunes.
“Your Love Is Here to Stay” begins the mellow affair with Hunx reflecting upon a lasting love, but it’s the gentle strummed guitar that distinguishes this from his more frenetic numbers. There’s an element of innocence here too that’s certainly endearing for listener’s, exposing our narrator. “Private Room” maintains that same sentiment, yet with the added female vocal accompaniment and impacting drums, you’ll find a bit more pace on this number. Stylistically, it’s more what you’ve come to expect from Hunx‘s traditional fare.
The one-two punch of hits on Hairdresser Blues comes in the form of “Always Forever” and “Hairdresser Blues.” The first of these two tracks definitely has that California garage-rock feel to it, but only with more restraint–in a positive way. For me, the response of “always forever” certainly grabs my attention and makes it a song I’ll play for some time. “Hairdresser Blues” is a jangling piece of joyousness, though the lyrical content might make you think otherwise. It’s sort of like Hunx‘s version of a Sonny and the Sunsets, compiling pieces of sunshine, pop, and grit to craft a well-written tune.
Perhaps what hits home the most with the record are the two closing tracks. “Say Goodbye Before You Leave” reminisces about Hunx‘s relationship with Jay Reatard, a personal favorite, so it definitely hits a personal note. But, more importantly it’s a song about loss, which holds a universal theme for us all, so regardless of the subject matter for our songwriter here, we can all relate to this, especially the closing statement that “it’s just too bad.” Apparently, “When You’re Gone” is another homage to a bit of loss, with Hunx reflecting about his deceased father. Again, the universality of his lyrics on this effort stand out, bringing home the personal message that seems so important to the narrative being spun on Hairdresser Blues. It wraps up the record with an emotional reminder that surely resonates with every listener–worth the dozen or more spins I’ve given it in the last hour.
What stands out the most about this record really has to be the exposed persona of Hunx on Hairdresser Blues. While he’s usually a bundle of energy and sexuality (things I enjoy), there’s a personal note on this effort that really supersedes the music. While it is a bit solemn, the sincerity leaves you with a bit of solace, a bit of clarity and hope. If he starts to combine these elements with his old-school brashness, there’s no telling what a huge hit Hunx could be.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/HXS_AlwaysForever.mp3]
Download:Hunx – Always Forever [MP3]
It’s always good to know that a rocker never dies. Mark Ryan’s one such dude, giving it his all in the past with the Marked Men; now he’s refueled his passion with Mind Spiders. Meltdown is the group’s second album in less than a year, and their latest release for Dirtnap Records has them picking up precisely where they left off–and now with more drums!
On the first few listens, you might think that opener “You Are Dead” bares a strong resemblance to Jay Reatard, as there’s that scratchy vocal, not to mention the way the lyrics are displayed that lets you gravitate towards the notion. But, the usage of two drummers has captured the explosive capacity of the group as a whole, something the aforementioned singer never quite had. And as Meltdown goes further with “Beat,” the chorus indicates that this is definitely a shout out to punk rock. Chugging guitars push you forward, but the chorus will bring the punk rock all the way home, even as the band steadily pounds onwards.
When you stumble upon “More Than You,” you might literally stumble, as it’s the first Mind Spiders track, on this effort at least, that’s not jagged and dirty. Yes, there’s a bit of a haze coating the sound of the recording, but lurking beneath is a really nice bit of melody. Not to be a spoiler, but if you’re listening as you’re reading, you’re going to find that a lot more of the tracks on Meltdown resemble this number, as the latter half of the record takes a similar approach to this song. “Skull Eyed” takes on a similar pacing, but there’s definitely a haunting electronic element presence, which displays the risks that Mark Ryan’s willing to take with this group. I’d be interested to see what this sounds like live, as there’s definitely space to pick up the pace in a forceful manner. “Meltdown” closes out the album with an almost carnival-esque electronic playfulness that continues Side B’s theme of musical exploration, only doing so in the instrumental manner; this all hints that Ryan might possibly be trying to figure things out for the future.
Taken as a whole, Meltdown‘s a solid record, though a little bit disjointed in its sonic construction. It brings on full-frontal rock n’ roll ferocity from the get-go, giving you a hefty does of energy on Side A. Side B, however, demonstrates that Mind Spiders are still working out some of the kinks as they continue to forge a path for themselves. It actually makes for the perfect vinyl listen, giving you two side of a most excellent band. We’ll just have to wait and see which path the group takes as they bound off into the future, but let’s rest assured that even when they’re figuring things out, they’re writing tracks that are better than most of the bands out there.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Mind_Spiders_-_Wait_For_Us.mp3]
Download: Mind Spiders – Wait For Us [MP3]
Shawn Foree’s been around for more than a minute, but it seems like things are just now starting to pick up for him. After the tragic death of his close friend Jay Reatard, Shawn’s project Digital Leather looks to be picking up steam as he tried to replicate the work ethic of his late friend. On February 14th he’ll be releasing Modern Problems on FDH Records, his follow-up to Warm Brother. As the name would assume, there’s a bit of a digital edge to this garage rock approach. It’s still the kind of track that illustrates just how much high-fueled energy Shawn will provide when the record hits the stores.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/DigitalLeather_YoungDoctorsInLove.mp3]
Download: Digital Leather – Young Doctors In Love [MP3]
King Louie Bankston has been part of some great acts, playing with The Exploding Hearts and also working with the recently deceased Jay Reatard. It’s a pretty strong pedigree, and with Painted White, he’s ready to take the world on, offering up his garage-rock repertoire to the masses.
“The Girl of the Nite” jumps into the record with a pure power-pop guitar line, and a steady vocal approach, making the track a steady hit. But, as soon as you pass this tune, there’s an added gruffness that comes with the vocals on Painted White, clearing the way for a harder edge than many might be expecting.
For instance, “Victory Lap,” has this smoker meets alcoholic wispiness to the vocals, and I mean that to come across in a flattering way, as I enjoy that harder edge. The song itself blends a bit of soft garage rock with poppier rock elements, but you can’t help other than to associate the music with a more punk rock element, sort of like power-pop’s answer to Against Me. Still, if you’re looking for infectious hooks associated with steady beats, this record is full of them.
Personally, I’ve found a great bit of allegiance with tunes like “Black Rainbow.” Bankston’s rough-edged voice provides the perfect contrast to a somewhat rock-a-billy/counrty tinge on the actual songwriting. In doing so, it takes the song from run-of-the-mill power pop to guitar based jam. Similarly, “Nite Fall” has a barroom chant associated with it; the lyrics are simple enough to sing atop your lungs, and while the twang of the song it pleasant, it’s not overly intrusive, allowing for the occasional gang vocals (not to mention the regular ones) to carry the song.
Those of you looking for a faster paced in your garage-pop will find pleasure in the end of the record with songs like “Broken Hands” and “Hot Class.” It’s not just the quicker pace of the tracks that will attract you, but the sharper influence of the guitars, using less twang. This allows for these tracks to give a bit of momentum to the record that may have been missing in the earlier tracks. And it all closes with the semi-ballad “Dance All Nite,” which leaves Painted White with more of a traditional feel, in regards to modern spins on power-pop.
It’s hard not to have King Louie’s past in mind when listening to his current work, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Knowing everything that he’s been through as a musician, you can ignore missteps, or gruff vocals, and appreciate Painted White for what it is: a man having fun writing music. Perhaps that’s the best thing about music of this sort, as there’s no pretension or scene, it’s just music. It’s good music, but it’s still just music, and it doesn’t always have to be taken so seriously. So give this a go, and remember, it’s alright to just have fun while listening.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/01-The-Girl-Of-The-Nite.mp3]
Download: King Louie’s Missing Monuments – The Girl Of The Nite [MP3]
I can’t tell you how much I’ve always enjoyed the projects of King Louie Bankston. He played with The Exploding Hearts, one of my all time favorite groups, and he also had a one off project called The Bad Times with Jay Reatard, not to mention a slew of other projects that came up in between. He’s recently signed on with Douchemaster Records, and he’ll be putting out an album with Missing Monuments, titled Painted White. Everything in this song sums up exactly what I love: it’s a little bit of punk, a whole lot of power, and hints of pop. That’s basically a recipe for a killer song, and a killer album. You’ll find some joy here.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/01-The-Girl-Of-The-Nite.mp3]