Jay Reatard reinvents 70s punk rock on Watch Me Fall

Watch me fall

Jay Reatard makes singles like a baker makes bread. It seems to come naturally to the man from Memphis who is releasing his first full-length album since 2006’s solo debut Blood Visions. But the waiting pays off on Watch Me Fall, which stands out in 2009 as being one of the only remarkable albums on which only two songs meet the three minute mark. If you’re looking for the same brand of lofty ethereal alt rock that has been ever-present this year, stop now. Jay Reatard likes to keep things simple.

In fact, the album is amazing in its simplicity. Each song is short, contains few instruments (guitars and drums are about all that are needed), and lyrics are primarily repeated catchy choruses. You don’t have to look hard to find similarities between Jay Reatard and almost any 70s punk band (my mom immediately thought of The Clash). Both use similar formulas and seem to have been spoon-fed pop music since birth. Reatard just cleans up the act and makes it 21st century-ready.

Despite many of the songs coming from similar molds, the album doesn’t get repetitive or seem tiresome at any point. It might be because the 1 and 2 minute tracks don’t really give you a chance. It also has to do with Reatard’s remarkable talent of diversifying his songs in often very small ways. On “Man of Steel,” all he had to do was add a Mandolin to shake things up. A change in tempo on the next track “Can’t Do It Anymore,” continues to keep things different.

Most of Watch Me Fall, however, stems from the first track and lead single, “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me.” The song is a delightfully catchy romp that sticks with you all day, and it’s a perfect example of what Reatard is so good at. He comes back to true form halfway through the album on “Rotten Mind” and caps off the album in real punk rock fashion with a slower jam (“There Is No Sun”). It might be presumptuous of me to say, but in a time of sweeping artistic rock, is an anachronism from 1977 whose name even echoes the in-you-face mentality of the old scene. I cant wait to tell my grandchildren how great it was to listen to a guy named Jay Reatard.

Jay Reatard – “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” [MP3]

Jay Reatard – “Rotten Mind” [MP3]

Jay Reatard – “There Is No Sun” [MP3]

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