After about a quarter-century of impenetrable reclusion, Jandek took to the road for some shows in 2004 and 2005. Newcastle Sunday is a double-CD commemoration of one of those, done in England on May 22, 2005. It doesn't say it on the sleeve -- he's rarely divulged any details other than track listings and lengths on his albums -- but Jandek is playing with a rock band of sorts here, with Richard Youngs on electric bass and Alex Neilson on drum kit. That makes it more interesting, though barely, than the scads of other discs he'd unleashed in the several years or so prior to this 2006 release. Instead of the avant-country-blues guitar yowl that is often his trademark, there's more of a reverberant swirl to his guitar sound here. Too, while the backup musicians don't play anything resembling a conventional tune, they do add a depth of sorts as they follow the leader through his idiosyncratic, amelodic tunnels. As for the songs themselves, however, they're very much in tune with what Jandek's usually served up in his career: murky, despondent laments, assiduously avoiding anything hummable. It's not a greatest-hits set (not that there were any to offer), and the lack of titles that have appeared on his "studio" discs will reinforce the impression that the man's making it up as he goes along. Once in a while a line will leap out and let you know that Jandek's demons run deep; "but I know when to kill you, dirty rotten stalking beast!" he agitates in "Mangled and Dead," followed by a welter of bashing drums. But overall these 85 minutes are a challenge even to lovers of avant-garde improvised music.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2