Album Review: Reatards – Teenage Hate [Reissue]

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2009 was a banner year for Jay Reatard. He released his second studio album (and first for Matador Records), Watch Me Fall, to stellar reviews. He toured the world over, including high profile opening gigs for the Pixies. He seemed to be primed for his big breakout. Then, suddenly, he died in his sleep on January 13th, 2010 – sending shockwaves through the music community.

Rewind back to 1997. Reatard, inspired by fellow Memphis rockers Oblivians, took up a stage name and started the Reatards. He attracted the local music scene – with some Oblivians offering to help him out with his first (self-released) cassette, Fuck Elvis, Here’s the Reatards. He went on tour, got a real backing band, and came back the next year with the Reatard’s debut album, Teenage Hate.

Now we’re back to present day. Goner Records, who put out Teenage Hate back in 1998, have given Reatard his first posthumous release. Teenage Hate gets its own deluxe reissue here, packaged with Fuck Elvis, available on CD and vinyl for the first time. It’s a welcome gesture by Reatard’s original label, still based in his hometown of Memphis, TN that gives Reatard fans a chance to discover (or re-discover) some of his earliest work.

But how is the actual music? It’s intense, just as you’d hope it would be. Teenage Hate has no room to slow down, it starts full tilt from album opener “I’m So Gone” and doesn’t let up till it’s over. Most of the album’s 39 songs are perfect 1-2 minute blasts of power. A few of the Fuck Elvis songs made their way to Teenage Hate, and it’s interesting to hear their evolution from tape to album, as both versions of “C’mon Over”, “Give it to Me”, “I Lie To”. “Memphis Blues” and others are also included.

This reissue is all about the fans. For Jay Reatard’s followers, this is a great chance to look back in the past and discover where his music started and, with the benefit of hindsight, see how it evolved. It may not win over any new fans, but the ones who followed Reatard’s career should be pleased with Teenage Hate/Fuck Elvis, Here’s the Reatards.