Today, I finally have a chance to present you with a record I’ve been waiting for with anticipation. Where Wasn’t I? is the third full-length album by J.D. Reager and probably one of the best records you’ll hear this year. There are many reasons for such a bold statement. J.D. Reager played in many Memphis-based bands, such as Glossary, Pezz, Two Way Radio, Snowglobe, and The Passport Again. Besides being active as a musician, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, he also operates Back To The Light Records, runs a podcast of the same name, and helped out the underground DIY scene as much as he can for decades. With an experience like this, there’s no wonder why Where Wasn’t I? sounds flawless from beginning to end.
Where Wasn’t I? carries thirteen marvelous compositions continuously levitating between several complementary music genres. Perhaps punk rock comes to mind first, but many other genres are lurking around. You’ll notice how J.D. Reager combined the fundamentals of a punk rock sound with garage rock, rock’n’roll, indie rock, alternative, and power pop. There’s also a gentle touch of psych rock included in the mix, but it doesn’t overwhelm the primary sonic direction of this material. With all these elements involved, it’s safe to say that indie punk is the appropriate term that perfectly describes Where Wasn’t I? The album bursts with a pleasant, ear-appealing, soothing ambiance decorated with generous servings of distortion. J.D. thought about even the tiniest details while writing, composing, and producing these songs, and you’ll notice his effort as soon as you put this vinyl record on your turntable.
It’s nearly mindblowing how he paired all these cathartic vocal harmonies, catchy chord progressions, riffs, melodies, themes, and other sonic delicacies, with the abrasiveness, rawness, and dirtiness of fuzz distortion. These tracks simultaneously shine bright with gentle aggression, crunchiness, and noise, but it doesn’t spoil the soft, melodic, relaxing aspect of the album. J.D. invested all the tools of the trade in making this release, so you’ll notice that Where Wasn’t I? resonates with early to mid-eighties proto-grunge, indie, and punk rock vibes, while simultaneously embracing all the qualities of the early nineties music. It’s also good to mention that besides energetic indie punk numbers, J.D. included many divine garage rock ballads decorated with a dosage of Americana, so Where Wasn’t I? is pretty much diverse material, and it will suit anyone.
Where Wasn’t I? features guest appearances by David Catching (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), Steve Selvidge (The Hold Steady), Ross Johnson (Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, Alex Chilton), Scott Danbom (Centro-matic), Matt Jencik (Don Caballero, Slint, Implodes), Jeremy Scott (Reigning Sound), John Bonds (Jack Oblivian, River City Tanlines) and Mark Edgar Stuart, and these musicians unquestionably helped up shaping up the sound of this record, but J.D. Reager is a star of this show, and he deserves your utmost attention. Head to Back To The Light Records for more information about ordering this gem on vinyl.