Death turns strange tricks: The 2010 passing of Memphis garage-rock songwriter Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr., or Jay Reatard, didn't have any particular impact on the North Carolina music scene. By the time he died at the age of 29, Reatard had become a genre figurehead; beyond his Tennessee home, his influence became apparent in the scrappy first few records by San Francisco's Ty Segall and the bubblegum-and-broken-glass pop of Nashville's Useless Eaters.
Of late, the inevitable lionization of rock 'n' roll's recent drug casualty has set in with a loving documentary film and reissues of early recordings. Still, it's worth remembering why Jay Reatard mattered in the first place: his songs. For that, this split shared by local favorites The Love Language and Spider Bags offers the finest of remembrances.
Spider Bags' close ties to the Memphis scene from which Reatard arose are evident in the guests that dot this year's excellent Shake My Head, including Jack Oblivian and Limes' Shawn Cripps. That was recorded in part at the landmark Goner Record Store in Memphis. Fittingly, Spider Bags honor Reatard with a faithful version of "Out of My Head into My Bed," from The Reatards' 1998 debut Teenage Hate, released by Goner. Spider Bags used the song to honor Reatard's memory at shows following his death, the tune's Replacements-worthy riff and vital recklessness intact; here, it's immortalized with the same proper balance of ragged abandon and irrepressible hooks that made Reatard's own version compelling.
The Love Language pay tribute in an entirely different and appropriate manner, serving as the indie rock answer to Spider Bags' garage primacy. By the time Reatard released his solo debut, Blood Visions, in 2006, he'd honed his pop instincts without shedding any of the neurotic energy or snotty impulsiveness of his earliest records. "Nightmares," however, stood out for its relative restraint and almost wistful lyrics. "Seems that my dreams only come true/ When my dreams aren't about you," Reatard sang. With a girl-group gloss, those lines fit the hopeless romantic tropes of The Love Language's best songs. In his interpretation, Love Language leader Stu McLamb taps Jay Reatard's pop vein for everything it held.
Predictably, that was—and, here, is—a lot.
Label: Tangible Formats