Royal Trux - Singles, Live, Unreleased
The Howling Hex - Wilson Semiconductors
Black Bananas - Rad Times Express IV
Royal Trux-o-rama! Not only is the delightfully scuzzy band’s essential Singles, Live & Unreleased triple LP back in print, but former partners in sleaze Jennifer Herrema and Neil Michael Hagerty both have new ones out (or out soon), respectively under the monikers Black Bananas and The Howling Hex. They just keep on truxxxin’.
First, the old stuff. It might be out of the ordinary for a collection of singles/rarities/ephemera to be a band’s best album, but what the hell, Royal Trux were never your ordinary band. The sprawl of Singles, Live & Unreleased is what made me really “get” Herrema and Hagerty. I think it just has something to do with total immersion this comp offers — you really go through the looking glass into some kind of bizarro classic rock alternate reality. Don’ t know if I’d want to live in Royal Trux-land, but it sure is a fun place to visit. Trouser Press called the Trux a “hybrid of Altamont evil and Marrakesh mind-fog” and I’ll be damned if I can do any better than that.
Meanwhile: Hagerty’s latest Howling Hex record is an entirely solo affair — but it isn’t some singer-songwriter detour. Overdubbing himself into one man band status, the guitarist weaves bubbly bass lines, garage-y keyboards and lashings of freakout wah guitar into an idiosyncratic sonic tapestry. The scope is ambitious — there are only four songs here, but the album clocks in at over a half-an-hour. The lack of drums is an odd, but ultimately winning wrinkle. What else sounds like this? Not sure — the only thing I could think of was The Seeds (who even might get a little shout out on the opening track?). Whatever, this is an excellent effort, and might be a good way into Hagerty’s latter day work.
Furthermore: Herrema has discarded the (confusing) RTX band name in favor of Black Bananas for Rad Times Express IV. To my ears, she’s sticking closer to the classic Trux sound than Hagerty, with cock rock guitars and classic rock attitude in spades. But the lady can throw a curveball — check out the dancehall vibes of “Rtx Gogo” or the vocoder-y vocals that pop up here and there. Overall, it’s a ride that’ll leave you feeling a little bit dirty, in the best possible way. Rad times, indeed!
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