Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It came out of the garage

Welcome to the second installment of Tuesdays with Tierney at the Sanctuary, where we fight through the chaos, angst and blood to find the pulse of rock 'n' roll. It ain't easy being us.

By Mike Tierney

Garage rocker Jay Reatard, a.k.a.
Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr., didn't make it to 30.
An e-mail invitation popped up to a screening of "New Garage Explosion !!: In Love With These Times," a documentary film about contemporary garage bands, at a nearby cinema. In dire need of a reboot to update me on the subgenre, I took up the offer.

Now, my idea of garage leans more pop than the movie's producers. These bands bled punk, though maybe that is what passes for garage these days.

Nonetheless, the dozen or so groups featured displayed snippets of talent and the requisite chaotic energy. Some were intentionally sloppy, others inadvertently so. There was the occasional odd instrument (a fiddle, a keyboard) thrown in that would cause the Sex Pistols (or the deceased members) to spin in their graves.

I should not have been surprised that, in these do-it-yourself technological times, these guys can control the recording process from start to finish. Still, the sight of an album-presser churning out discs in someone's apartment triggered a double-take.

Seizing the most face time in the film was a fellow with the stage name Jay Reatard from Memphis. Passionate and marginally talented, he managed to break through the rank-and-file, landing record deals.

To get noticed, many depicted acts adopted outrageous tactics, from wearing masks to acting androgynously. Reatard's M.O. seemed to be mixing it up with audience members. One fuzzy scene appeared to show him urinating onstage.

As the credits rolled, we learned that Reatard died before the film was finished. First thing I did upon returning home was Google this Reatard chap, learning that he had carried on the tradition of punk by expiring of a drug overdose. He was 29.

The flick caught me up on a form of music that warrants no air play, except maybe on college radio stations, and helped lay to rest any concerns that Neil Young was wrong when he wailed, "Rock 'n' roll will never die."

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