Jay Reatard is the questionable stage name of prolific Memphis resident Jay Lindsey, who has been recording and releasing music for about ten years as a solo artist and with the Reatards, the Lost Sounds, Destruction Unit, and many other bands. When he was just 15, Lindsey’s home recordings caught the attention of Memphis garage-rock heroes the Oblivians (whom he had first seen as openers for San Diego’s own Rocket from the Crypt), and the band helped Lindsey, now christened Jay Reatard, to release his first singles. At first, Reatard’s music took second place to his onstage antics, but after a keyboard-playing bandmate told him to cool it, he developed some chops. It turns out he has a real talent for writing hooks and a flair for singing them in a sort of fake British accent.
In a New York Times blog about the South by Southwest festival, Ben Sisario wrote off Reatard with a review that read, in its entirety: “Pretty standard garage-punk.” It’s easy to see where Sisario got that idea: Reatard’s songs are fast, short, loose, and clearly rooted in old-school punk and ’60s garage rock. (Not to mention recorded on the cheap.) But his catchy choruses and unexpected rhythmic touches make Reatard’s garage-punk pretty great, actually.
After the triumph of last year’s Blood Visions (which featured 15 songs in under 30 minutes), Reatard signed to New York’s Matador Records for an unusual deal whereby he will release six singles over the course of a year. The first is scheduled to come out next month, and collectors are wetting their pants in anticipation.
JAY REATARD, House of Blues, Saturday, March 29, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $21.