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Jay Reatard's sublime stopgap; Aristocrunk's return.



This collection of singles from Memphis punk savant Jay Reatard is essentially a bit of housecleaning from his old label (garage-rock-identified indie In the Red) — a way of emptying the vault before an upcoming singles collection from Reatard's new label (indie-rock behemoth Matador) ushers in a higher-profile phase of Reatard's rocketing career.

The 17 tracks collected here were issued on six singles released during 2006 and 2007, including two seven-inches for the local Goner label. Taken as a whole, this collection is even more invigorating than Reatard's late-2006 breakout solo album Blood Visions, with which it shares four tracks. There's more variety and great musical and emotional dynamics to this collection, offering even more evidence of how far Reatard is capable of taking his music.

Reatard has been making great music for years, from the teen-punk assault of his first band, the Reatards, to the darkly ambitious synth-pop punk of his seminal band Lost Sounds. But his musical peak thus far may have come on the Goner single collected here that pairs the original "I Know a Place" with a cover of the Go-Betweens' "Don't Let Him Come Back" (a melodic gem that, at a mere 3:04, is the longest track on the disc).

In its own way, "I Know a Place" is Reatard's most romantic moment. "I know a place where we can go to be alone/I know a place where we can crawl to die," Reatard sings, before letting even more darkness and regret creep in beneath the music's swooning veneer: "Yes, we both got what we asked for ... and please don't you cry." "Don't Let Him Go Back" opens with a precise, bright guitar overture before bursting into chiming pure pop that makes room for a surprisingly expressive guitar solo.

With Reatard playing every note except for a stray guitar solo on "All Wasted" (courtesy of former Angry Angles bandmate Alix Brown), Singles 06-07 alternates agitated rockers with bracing, melodic love songs.

The two-disc collection also includes a DVD of concert performances taken from four venues. — Chris Herrington

Grade: A

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