Jacques Renault's been a local New York all-star for years, in part through his production work with Marcos Cabral under the Runaway moniker (they also ran the On the Prowl imprint together), in part because of his relentless Gotham DJing schedule through the mid ’00s to this day, and certainly through Let's Play House, the label and roving party he runs with Nik Mercer. The last few years have seen his national and worldwide profile rise as well, largely through a busy touring schedule and a series of hot four-to-the-floor solo releases, edits and remixes that hit all the right spots. But now Renault's really ready for the spotlight: He's just released his debut LP, Zentrum, on Let's Play House, and it doesn't disappoint. The album—which features an all-star array of friends that includes Cabral, the Rapture's Luke Jenner, Mark Verbos, the Emperor Machine, and a/jus/ted's Teddy Stewart—references classic house and disco, but filtered through his own idiosyncratic prism for a fun set of tunes that's fully of the here-and-now. But Renault has a not-so-dirty little secret—he grew up in the D.C. area not as a dance-music acolyte, but as a fan of hardcore, postpunk and leftfield rock. A stint in Chicago—marked by a job working for the famed Gramophone record shop—helped to bring our young hero to the side of all that is good and right. But once a rocker, always a rocker, at least to a degree—and below, find Renault's five fave (guitar-heavy) seven-inch singles of the ’90s.
Jacques Renault's fave seven-inch singles of '90s.
Jawbox “Motorist"/"Jackpot Plus!” (Dischord Records)
I might as well start off with one of Jawbox's 7"s for Dischord, a label that I was constantly buying from directly with almost every catalog update. I didn’t have a lot to spend, so to mix it up, I’d always pick out something new and something old. Fugazi, Shudder to Think, Flex Your Head, etc. The list goes on. I had a few tapes in the car, too, one of which was Jawbox’s Novelty, an album I know pretty much inside out.
The Make-Up, “Substance Abuse” (Time Bomb Recordings)
Along with Jawbox and Fugazi, I listened to a lot of Nation of Ulysses. I never saw them live, but I did catch the short-lived Cupid Car Club at Fort Reno one summer before the Make-Up started playing a bunch. There were amazing lineups at the Black Cat and their benefit-type shows. Slant 6, the Cranium, Crom-Tech, etc. all stand out for me, and those shows always felt like such performances. Super-fun, and always a bit different from the other punk shows going on around the city.
Monorchid, "Imposter Costume" (Lovitt Records)
This band was birthed from another Dischord fave of mine, Circus Lupus. I missed seeing them live, too, but this hybrid was even better. Killer riffs and serious band presence. They played with the Make-Up, Blonde Redhead and other indie bands from Arlington, Virginia. I used to joke how I saw Blonde Redhead the most because they opened up for so many bands back then. Now I see one of the group's twin brothers in my local grocery store and ask myself, "What are you guys up to?"
Jonathan Fire*Eater, "Give Me Daughters"/"The Search For Cherry Red" (Deceptive Records)
First time I saw this band was at 9:30 Club. They were different from the other D.C. bands, and I liked that a lot. Sort of like the U.K. bands I was getting into, too. Anyway, this sort of got me more interested in what was going on in New York, what the band scene was like up there. I’d only go to NY for day trips, so I didn’t get to spend that much time there to feel it out, but when I saw the Walkmen years later, at the Bowery Ballroom, it made me miss this band a little bit. I guess that’s how people feel when they see Ian MacKaye or Chain and the Gang.
Berlin “The Metro” (Geffen Records)
I wanted to include this because it’s actually one of the first 7"s that I ever had. My older sister’s friend gave me a handful of records and this was in the batch. He also gave me my first skateboard and shared stories about the local skate shop, the Sunshine House, and about Ian MacKaye coming in all the time to buy his signature maroon Vans. At the time, I didn’t really get it, and this record didn’t stand up to Henry Rollins or Government Issue, but years later I discovered it again along with Grauzone, Bush Tetras, Human League, Soft Cell, etc., which were pretty much my gateway to my disco-digging.