Angry Angles were one of the best-kept secrets of the mid-'00s Memphis garage-rock movement. The band featured the late Jay Reatard and Alix Brown, a couple that joined forces to start the record label Shattered Records and make some noise of their own in the process. While Shattered released some of the best records of the time period from bands like Carbonas, Final Solutions, and Useless Eaters, the duo's greatest project was arguably the off-kilter, Devo-influenced punk they created as Angry Angles. After releasing three singles and a few brief tours with bands like Final Solutions and the Lids (the duo's other groups), the Angles broke up, and Jimmy Lee Lindsey started to work on his first releases as the solo artist Jay Reatard.
While the band's singles are still floating around out there somewhere, collectors of all kinds know the value of Jay Reatard's limited records, making them almost impossible to track down. That's where Goner Records comes in. Just as they have given the Reatards and the Lost Sounds deluxe reissues over the years, the first Angry Angles LP will see the light of day this year.
"When I started going back through the stuff that I had pulled from [Lindsey's] place, I came back across those [Angry Angles] tracks that I had found last spring," says Zac Ives, co-owner of Goner Records.
"I couldn't listen to those songs before because I was filled with so much grief, but the last time I listened to the recordings I was listening to them with fresh ears, and I began to get excited about the music, just as I had been when the band was still around. At first there was a lot of me trying to figure out what we had with those recordings, what was available, and what we could actually use. I talked to Ryan [Rousseau, the band's drummer], and Alix, and his manager Adam Shore, and we've been working on it together for about nine months now."
The fact that just about every Jay Reatard project from the past has gotten a reissue — or in this case, a compilation LP — is a testament to how important the noise that Lindsey made really was to his fans. And not just his fans in Memphis. The Reatard's Teenage Hate album that Goner reissued in 2011 received the coveted Best New Reissue from Pitchfork, and the Lost Sounds' Lost Lost LP was also extremely well-received on a national scale. While Lost Sounds and the Reatards will always be the bands in bold when perusing the Jay Reatard discography, Angry Angles marks a significant change in how Lindsey would write, record, and perform for the rest of his life.
"Angry Angles was like a perfect time for Jay. It's the beginning of him realizing he can do stuff all on his own, except it's not as perfect as some of the solo stuff is," Ives says.
"There is still this piece he's working around, which is Alix being a new bass player. That's the last time anyone worked with him. After [Angry Angles], he wrote everything himself."
"I had only been in one band before Angry Angles, and I was still a pretty new bass player," Brown says.
"Jay knew that I played bass, and he basically just made me play more. We wrote songs together, but he always played the drum parts first when it came time to record them. He could play an entire song on drums without listening to anything else, and I'd record the bass over the drums after that."
With the abrupt ending of Angry Angles happening after the two broke up, Lindsey had plenty of half-baked songwriting ideas to pick and choose from, and many Angry Angles riffs or song parts wound up on his first solo album, Blood Visions.
"It's cool, but it still is kind of haunting because the Angry Angles have always been a missing piece of the puzzle, there was always supposed to be an album from them," Ives says.
"The shattered single they put out was around for a while, but I never even got a copy of the third single, and a lot of people never even got the second single."
While gathering all the Angry Angles odds and ends they could find, Ives said they came across a WFMU session from the Terre T show The Cherry Blossom Clinic and a live recording from a show in Kalamazoo.
"There's a bunch of stuff that never came out that was done around 2005 or 2006 when he started figuring out that he could create pop songs like no one else had heard before," Ives says.
"When you listen to those live recordings, you realize that Jay was playing three to five songs from the album Blood Visions. Songs like "Nightmares" and "Blood Visions" are songs that people now think of as Jay's solo songs, but he was playing them back then with this band, and we didn't even notice."
As for the release date of the Angry Angles LP, the details are still being finalized, but Ives did confirm that Brown will be doing the artwork and that the label is pushing for a mid-year release.
"I guess I still get bummed out when I listen to the band. It's still hard," Brown says.
"I'm really excited that people will get a chance to hear the music we made together, though. I think his fans will really like it."