Jimmy Lee Lindsey sounds like the name of a half-talent Country singer. Outside of Country the name doesn't work too well.
One of the great things about showbiz is the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Coming up with a new name is a good start. Most lose that awkward or "too ethnic" surname in favor of something catchy, inspired or even mainstream. But few would ever trade Jimmy Lee Lindsey for Jay Reatard.
Memphis-born Jimmy Lee began recording at age 15 when caught the attention of Goner Records. But it was seeing the incredible Rocket From The Crypt and their lo-fi, garage sound that really made an impression. Jimmy Lee started a one-man band name The Reatards - subsequently taking the band's name as his own.
Following The Reatards' debut, Reatard started recording with Alicja Trout and Rich Crook as the Lost Sounds. This line-up pushed The Reatards into the back seat and continued until '05 when they bitterly parted ways.
The next year, Reatard issued "Blood Visions" under the Jay Reatard moniker. This indie release led to signing with another, albeit larger indie, Matador Records. The label's first move was to release "Matador Singles '08," a compilation of the year's Reatard efforts.
Studio album, "Watch Me Fall," landed in '09. Prior to the album's release Reatard told a reporter that the album was "a little bit more about the melodies... I think I stripped away a layer of the fuzz; I might have been challenging people before to find them and this time I might be making them a little bit more obvious."
Startlingly (to say the least), the 29 year-old Reatard died in his sleep, on January 13th, '10, in Memphis. Friends stated that he had complained of flu-like symptoms.
2006 Blood Visions
2009 Watch Me Fall
The main appeal of lo-fi is the spontaneity. Tempos change and songs take unexpected turns. That certainly describes the unbridled "Blood Visions," the album that launched Jay Reatard to the head of the lo-fi class. Every song scores, especially those that show Punk roots.
Another thing about lo-fi is that it has to be listenable without sounding affected. Songs should have a direct impact absent any studio tricks or embellishments. On "Watch Me Fall" Reatard's lo-fi gets a bit of a spit polish. He has expanded his parameters while still managing to stay in the fold.
The fuzz-Rock compliments the Garage pop. And acoustic/electric blends bounce. "Fakin' It" and the pop leaning "Can't Do It Anymore" have a way of sticking with a listener.
"Matador Singles '08" tends to be less lyrical and leans more Punk than "Watch Me Fall." "See/Saw" has the trademark fuzz guitar and both "You Mean Nothing To Me" and the speed Punk "DOA" benefit from a cheesy '60's organ.