Royal Trux

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Royal Trux (1988), 7.5/10
Hand of Glory (2002),
Twin Infinitives, 9/10
Royal Trux, 7/10
Cats And Dogs, 7/10
Thank You, 6/10
Sweet Sixteen, 5/10
Accelerator, 6/10
Singles Live Unreleased, 6/10
Veterans of Disorder, 6.5/10
Pound For Pound , 6/10
Neil Hagerty: Neil Michael Hagerty , 6.5/10
Neil Hagerty: Plays That Good Old Rock And Roll , 6.5/10
Neil Hagerty: The Howling Hex (2003), 5.5/10
Howling Hex: All Night Fox (2005), 5/10
Howling Hex: You Can't Beat Tomorrow (2005), 5/10
Howling Hex: 1-2-3 (2006) , 5/10
Howling Hex: Nightclub Version Of The Eternal (2006), 4/10
RTX: Transmaniacon (2004), 5/10
RTX: Western Xterminator (2007), 4/10
RTX: JJ Got Live RaTX (2008), 4.5/10
Howling Hex: Earth Junk (2008), 4.5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Royal Trux, i.e. keyboardist Jennifer Herrema and former Pussy Galore guitarist Neil Hagerty, carried out a post-modernist program of revisiting and deconstructing rock music, a program that encompassed countless quotations from the Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart and Jimi Hendrix, as well as fueling them with the aesthetic excrements of the "no wave". Royal Trux (1988) revealed the duo's perverted passion for disfiguring blues-rock and leaving only harmonic ashes behind them. It was a tribute not to a genre (that was the vehicle) but to their generation of stoned and drunk artists (that was the message). There was no music per se: there were only subsonic litanies, limping rhythms and disjointed accompaniment, that mirrored (on a very warped parallel universe) the stereotypes of blues-rock. Twin Infinitives (1990), one of the milestone recordings of the era, a sort of Trout Mask Replica for the grunge generation, toured an impassable jungle of clumsy and puerile noises. Derailed by pseudo-jazz and pseudo-avantgarde pretentions, its delirious pieces sounded like nuclear bacchanals via spastic jamming. Lacking any sense of order or purpose, the album was a colossal chaos of musical detours. The anarchic and illiterate art that had been foreshadowed and incubated throughout the 1980s by the works of punk-rock, the no wave, industrial music, and so forth, had reached the terminal point. The two devastated psyches had forged a hyper-psychedelic form of cubism. Royal Trux (1992) marked a return to a more conventional song format, and Cats And Dogs (1993) was virtually a sell-out, despite the knack for extravagant dynamics.

Full bio.
(Translated my old Italian text by Nicole Zimmerman and proof-edited by Matteo Russo)

Royal Trux established themselves during the 1990's as one of the greatest rock groups of all time. Not only did they give us the masterpiece of extraordinary scope Twin Infinitives (one of the albums that required decades to be fully appreciated) but they also reinvented the concept of a rock group, a concept that was born with the Rolling Stones (a group that had inspired a large part of their music).

Jennifer Herrema (organ) and Neil Hagerty (ex-guitarist of Pussy Galore), both coming from Washington, formed Royal Trux in 1986 in New York. The idea was to continue to play primitive blues-rock in the style of Pussy Galore, but with a more intellectual and less visceral attitude. Several shows, played with a rotating ensemble cast of musicians on all sorts of instruments (from organ to saxophone), and the death of one member from overdose, turned the group into a club legend in Manhattan. Two of their tracks, Luminous Dolphin and Cut You Loose, appeared on a compilation (by ROIR).

The album Royal Trux (Royal, 1988) presents itself as a monumental musical paradox. Tracks like Bad Blood (on which they alternatively mimic the riff of Day Tripper, the Ventures and a blues a` la Captain Beefheart), or Zero Dok (a ballad with trembling psychedelic organ and a sobbing rhythm), or also Esso Dame, which was so driving compared to the others to seem like a voodoo-billy played by the Holy Modal Rounders, sprang up from the most deranged and shabby instrumental parts, as if the musicians were careful to never hit the right chord or tempo; as well as from a vocal discharge that only an unrestrained optimist can define as “song”.
And these are the most lively and normal tracks. Most of their work stopped short of this. Their most authentic character was expressed in primitive blues, reduced to the bare bones of just a few flat chords and some unintelligible laments; sub-sonic mixes of Jimi Hendrix and Lydia Lunch (Incineration); psychotic infantile sing-songs a` la Beefheart (Sice I Bones); stopping just within reach of a rarified, slowed down and purified version of Sister Morphine in Andersonville.
Their solipsism and their extreme minimalism can easily match the most spartan and idiosyncratic spirits of modern rock, like Jandek and Daniel Johnston. The arrangements were mostly minimal and (to put it mildly) eccentric. Such was Sanction Smith, a 20's style ragtime sung drunk and accompanied only by beats of the guitar and a metal object. Walking Machine had a futuristic out of tune organ. Bits And Spurs was emblematic of these inarticulate jams, which became defined by emitting unpleasant sounds with apathy and subnormal boredom. Royal Trux oscillate between hare-krishna fanfare, played with the verve of street musicians, the madness of David Peel, and the cosmic infantilism of Sun Ra in the jumping sound of Jesse James. To culminate this minimalist form of music was the comic rhyme of Gold Dust.
The duo reached their peak of their harmonic lunacy in the pseudo-jazz instrumental Hashish and on the cacophony Touch, in which the strong dissonance of the organ brought to mind the Nice. The album, for the experiment that it was, sounded incredibly unified and coherent, and contained, in a nutshell, a large part of their career.

At the end of 1989 Herrema and Hagerty relocated to San Francisco, where they recorded the single Hero Zero/Love Is (Drag City), the double single with No Fixed Address, Spike Cyclone, Baghdad Buzz, and Sunflavor. Completely under the influence of drugs, the two began work on their new album, Hand of Glory (Drag City, 2002), although it was abandoned half way through (the sessions saw the light 13 years later in the form of two long suites: Domo Des Burros - a primitive blues a` la Captain Beefheart's Mirror Man, and Boxing Story, a collage of electronic sounds like that of Karlheinz Stockhausen).

Instead the duo produced a double album, titled Twin Infinitives (Drag City, 1990), with ambitious intentions: to push the art of rock composition to its limits in a way that it could still be rock and roll but without people recognizing that it was. Contrary to those who thought this came about from a colossal improv during a drug orgy, the album represented an analytical reflection on how the perception of the details and the linguistic system can transcend the literal and create an abstraction, but an abstraction anchored to the literal. There was also an anarchical and libertarian message, of revolting against institutions, of hating classes. It was composed and recorded under the influence of the monument of rock culture that is Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart. It was also intended to be a tribute to the 2 great double albums of the golden era of rock, Exile On Main Street by the Rolling Stones and Uncle Meat by Frank Zappa. Additionally, it was also one of the albums that invented “lo-fi”; an aesthetic which exalted the American musical craftmanship, that semi-amateurish musical style that had as its defining characteristics the warm "home-made" sort of feel, the high quality of the hobbyist, and attention to detail.
What resulted was one of the most important albums in rock music, the "Trout Mask Replica" of noise-rock, an impenetrable jungle of dirty sounds and childish rhythms, smothered by electronics; a cubist masterpiece of deconstruction and reconstruction of musical forms. Not only Beefheart (who inspired more spirit than form), but also Faust - German geniuses of chaos, Pere Ubu - from whom they borrowed the art of assimilating electronics within the harmonic structure of rock, and Chrome - from whom they borrowed the brutal method of transforming that assimilation into torture.
Each track is immersed in a blazing stream of noises (instrumental and electronic) that are totally without logic: just gratuitous and random noises. The few phases of music that were composed, or planned, were put under every sort of butchering: tapes were cut and reinserted upside down, some fragments were left behind, some others duplicated, and still others accelerated or decelerated. The duo showed no mercy.
In Chances Are The Comets In Our Future, one of their most programmatic songs, resounding, and hallucinating feedback accompany a nursery rhyme sung asynchronously by the two, and the phrases of the two voices are gradually torn from the tape and randomly replaced, crumbling even the shred of logic that remained. Similarly in Solid Gold Tooth, a deranged blues in which the vocal harmonies (the call of the muezzin by him and the moaning by her, with a newscast in the background) seem to originate from tapes that were played just for their own sake. It is the most rigorous method of insanity.
Depending on your perspective, you could either call this a regressed variation of industrial music or very advanced psychedelia. In Jet Pet, the singing of Herrema is shattered by a colossal distortion, with a background of warbles and electronic thuds. For its part, RTX-USA is like a ritual dancing from a metallurgical jungle, which indulges in the most wild chaos; from formless magma emerges a mysterious flute and one of the most graceless guitar solos in the history of music. Industrial and metallic rhythms fill Glitterbust. These are ballads by wasted artists, in which not even a shred of a song remains  and all the other sounds are horribly deformed until they lose their timbre, their melody line, their rhythm; until they become mere hisses, hums, and rumbles like that of a monstrous nightmare (Kool Down Wheels).
Sun Ra comes to mind in the prolonged dissonance of Osiris, that serves as cosmic admonitions, while unidentified bodies hiss; Herrema recites something, but the substance is that of noises, without melody or theme, just unpleasant noises; one of their most evocative cacophonic displays.
The tour de force of this spastic jamming is Edge Of The Ape Oven: infernal, like a horror film, with a menacing riff (perhaps the most musical thing on the album) superimposed on an uninterrupted sequence of free dissonance and seasoned with random percussions struck in a weak, feeble manner.
But where it coagulates into a recognizable form, even if through a thick fog, musical events of historical significance occur. A semblance of blues emerges in the guitar line in Yin Jim Versus The Vomit Creature, while Hagerty mumbles unintelligible words under the thick blanket of distortions, feedback, and assorted noises; quickly the noises take control but he continues to yap and laugh in the whirlwind of noxious radiation. Not merely being a piece of music, this is c magnificent, albeit extravagant example of recitation.
Herrema has more space, and her drunken gasps (her whining similar to Lydia Lunch was tired and bored) are perfect for songs like Ice Cream, or for arrangements that consist of a whistle and one string (an off-key solo) by the guitar that strummed the melody, while the other guitar (also off-key, also only one string) plays the counter point, as maracas and the usual tumultuous electronic sounds grow in the background; or like Ratcreeps, a duel between a slightly off-key pluck and an electronic rumble; or like Lick My Boots, on which Herrema pretends to commit to singing and duels with a pair of methodical dissonances. Her litanies were set in an apocalyptic scenario, post-nuclear, a scenario of destruction and decay, of ruin and devastation: the survivors enter into unison with the wreckage.
The insistent Dadaism of the instrumentals has its own value. The dissonant apex of the work, that would be the envy of Varese and Cage, is the track Florida Avenue Theme, as unmusical as a song could be. But perhaps the most ingenious piece in this area is Funky Son, with aggravating scordaturas on the guitar, broken dishes, solfeggios on trombone and strumming on the piano at a danceable rhythm: if school-children broke into a recording studio and played the instruments, they would not produce anything less harmonious.
This shameless outrage ends gloriously: with a love-song on piano sung by Herrema (and naturally neither the vocalist nor the piano hit any notes “correctly”).
In this monumental work, Royal Trux deconstructed blues-rock by dissecting and separating rhythmic patterns, timbres, melodies, and recording songs under the influence of no theoretical programme, just massive doses of hysteria. All in all, Twin Infinitives was a collection of precious musical rubbish. The hyper psychedelic keyboards and the vocal harmonies by the duo managed to create an impressive mess.

The third album, Royal Trux (Drag City, 1992), was released after a long pause due to detox and personal issues. The songs on "Twin Infinitives" posed a problem: they were not suitable to be played live. The songs of the third album were composed specifically to be played in front of an audience. This format signaled a return to the classic format of rock music.
It was not surprising then that the album was a massive change of direction, picking up where Hagerty left off with Pussy Galore: a primitive style of blues. The tracks Move and Sometimes, on which the guitars (strumming in the foreground and distortion in the background) sounded as if they were given over to lousy strolling minstrels, noticeably diminished the reach of their historic mission, limiting the accomplishment of the work to somewhere between a parody and a tribute directed towards the Rolling Stones.
Lightning Boxer resembled a ballad by Neil Young being played on a slow turntable and filled with crackles. The rhythm picked up only in the excited finale, Sun On The Run. Then out of nowhere the acoustic ballad Junkie Nurse broke through in perfect imitation of early Dylan style. This album was a work of transition, confused and weak, recorded by a duo that still had a somewhat blurry vision of where they wanted to go. It was as if Royal Trux had exhausted itself in Twin Infinitives, saying everything it had to say, and then all the group could do was reinvent itself simpler.
The album was more subtle than those prior. First of all, it was a work that recapitulated the principles of composition and execution found in Twin Infinitives for a broader listening base. Secondly, the album offered a more intimate and personal image of the group, eliminating the distance that a work like Twin Infinitives created between the composer and the consumer. The lyrics revealed a vulnerability and tenderness that contrasted with the image of "ugly, dirty, and bad".
Even so, the album confirmed Royal Trux as the rightful heirs of Pussy Galore, which reduced the music to distracted quotes of the classics, knowing that in reality, the classics were played very differently from where they came from. Their haggard style, having originated from massive overdoses, from trips without return, has the meritof deconstructing of stereotypes without any concern of their reconstruction, like a child who abandoned the fragments of his toy on the pavement after taking it apart. Sometimes the fragments were more interesting than the toy itself.

After the single Red Tiger, which confirmed a break from the past, came Cats And Dogs (Drag City, 1993), which normalized the format of the songs and brought to the foreground the elements of 70's music (progressive-rock, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, hard-rock, and especially their beloved Rolling Stones) that were not visible previously in all the confusion.
After an intense season of touring, during which the group came to be known by many of their colleagues, Royal Trux began to recognize themselves for the first time as part of the music scene of their time. The album was a bit of a parody (affectionately) of this scene of independent music who were for the most part largely ignored.
The perverse genius of Twin Infinitives was not entirely dead, not only because they permitted drunken revelry like Friends, but also because a new form of melodious song emerged which was filled with catchy refrains in a noisy context: the psychedelic industrial-blues of Driving In That Car, the syncopated rhyme like the Allman Brothers-style nursery rhyme in Flag, and the light Lou Reed-style boogie in Let's Get Lost. However, what was heard was above all the anemic blues-rock from the early Grateful Dead (Teeth, Hot And Cold Skulls), at most with some remnants of the Stooges (Skywood Greenback Mantra, Up The Sleeve).
The two forms found an improbable meeting point in the ballad Spectre, perhaps the apex of the album due to its half-zombie half-fair- tale progression. The ramshackle performances left no doubt just how many kilos of heroin separated Mick Jagger from Turn Of The Century and Driving In That Car, the two jams that were vaguely soul-blues and in which the two sides of the album lose themselves.

Always aware (perhaps too aware) of the history of rock music, and finally detoxed, Herrema and Hagerty decided to compose a trilogy with each chapter (each album) dedicated to a decade of rock music. The idea was to take the techniques and the spirit of each era in a literal manner, by referring to the recording techniques of each decade.
Played by a finally stable quintet, Thank You (Virgin, 1995), transferred the spirit of the 60's to music, when the youth was convinced of the importance of the message and believed that they could stop the world. The results were modest. A Night To Remember and You're Gonna Lose were little more than a pale tribute to the Rolling Stones. The haggard boogie of The Sewers Of Mars and the imitation of Brown Sugar in Ray O Vac were the best Royal Trux could do when sober.

Much more disturbing was the single Mercury/Shockwave Rider (Domino).

Hagerty and Herrema entered a period of crisis with Sweet Sixteen (Charisma, 1997), an album that was dedicated to their idols from the 70's. The two leaders left the musicians free to improvise instrumental bridges. Morphic Resident was an orgy of glam-rock, psychedelia, and garage-rock. The recipe then throws in pinches of new wave and progressive-rock (Microwave Made) injections of garage-rock (Can't Have It Both Ways), a bit of Stooges (10 Days 12 Nights) and MC5 (Sweet Sixteen), and naturally the usual massive dose of Rolling Stones (over the whole slow, almost dub-like shuffle of Cold Joint). Where this process might have led was not clear, even to them. So much so that Don't Try Too Hard seemed like a parody of rap-metal but with a super-arranged brit-pop style refrain. Sweet Sixteen (Charisma, 1997) was a fetishist orgy of glam-rock, new wave, and progressive-rock; finally a sound produced in a professional manner. The commercial value of this album was almost zero, and this caused a dispute with the record label.

The songs were enjoyable but missing the brilliance which Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty had displayed in masterpieces such as Twin Infinitives (Drag City, 1990) and in well above average albums such as Cats And Dogs and the third.

Accelerator (Drag City, 1998), ostensibly dedicated to the 1980s, redeemed that issue. Herrema and Hagerty may have confused their dates because this seemed like an album in the style of the 1990s, drenched in the styles of Guided By Voices and Beck. The hillbilly ballad Yellow Kid seemed to parody Merseybeat and folk-rock with its out of tune vocal harmonies and its jingle-jangle dissonance. The structure of Liar clearly recalls the bubblegum style of the 60's.
The album distinguished itself from the previous ones, above all, by its ferocious emphasis on the arrangements, starting with the emphatic refrain and Southern boogie riff in I'm Ready ( counterpointed by a semi-comic wailing synthesizer, another trademark of the lo-fi aesthetic) that finished with a stormy, sobbing pace of Follow The Winter. The noisy and angry garage-rock of The Banana Question was modernized by the syncopation and chorus borrowed from the Breeders and L7.
The album closed with an imitation of the decadent lullabies of David Bowie, Stevie, which was completely different from the 8 preceding songs.
The clownish style of many of the songs were references to the costumed carnivals of the Residents and of the surreal postcards of Half Japanese, especially when accompanied by  demented loops (like in Juicy Juicy Juice). The problem was that, from the moment they stopped using drugs, they somehow fell behind to being a minor phenomenon in independent, underground American music. All of their limits became mercilessly evident, while the merits they had while making their masterpieces have completely vanished. One thing was certain however: this was their most violent and deafening album.

Singles Live Unreleased (Drag City, 1998) contains several unreleased tracks, among them Back To School and Shockwave Rider, two tracks worthy of their major repertoire.

(Original text by Piero Scaruffi)

Following on the heels of a killer single such as 3 Song EP (Drag City, 1998), with Deafer Than Blind, The US vs One 1974 Cadillac El Dorado Sedan, and Run Shaker Life, the new album, Veterans of Disorder (Drag City, 1999), recorded with a revolving group of session-man (bassist Dave Pajo of Aerial M stands out in the credits), abandons that program of parody and celebration and delves into Royal Trux's own obsessions. The duo is getting back in shape, as the conventional songs prove: Waterpark is unusually loud for their standards, halfway between Sex Pistols and ZZ Top; Second Skin is one of their trademark stone-age garage-rockers; The Exception wheels about with the nonchalance of Captain Beefheart's blues; the drunken and clumsy honky tonk of Coming Out Party recalls Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women. At the other end of the spectrum, Hagerty and Herrema wail the laid-back Grateful Dead litany of Stop and the martial Jimi Hendrix dirge of Witch's Tit, not to mention the infectious Yo Se. Notwithstanding the generally superior average, and like previous Royal Trux outings, the collection as a whole sounds "thin": an undeniable songwriting talent and a knack for extravagant dynamics is not adequately matched by compositional depth. The duo is content with playing bizarre blues-rock novelties.
Beyond the song format Royal Trux has always fared better. The song format, after all, was the liability of the trilogy. This album's most positive signal is that they have recovered their perverted passion for deconstructing rock music and leaving only harmonic ashes behind them. This is evident in the collage Sickazz Doc, a frenzied "cut-up" in the style of the Fugs' Virgin Forest, and in the long instrumental jam that closes the album, Blue Is The Frequency, the most spaced out things they have done since Twin Infinitives.
While still light years away from Twin Infinitives' peaks, Veterans crowns the recovery from the trilogy's mediocre blues-rock.

The single Dirty Headlines showed signs of renewal, and the EP Radio Video was a little sonic nightmare. The album Pound For Pound (Domino, 2000) fullfils that promise with a track like Deep Country Sorcerer that leaves behind their Stones imitations. Hagerty and Herrema have also learned to harmonize their voices. They still know how to quote the history of rock music, as they rampage through Hendrix (Call Out The Lions), Cream (Small Thief), and T. Rex (Fire Hill, Platinum Tips), but a wealth of sound effects and a casual tone that harks back to their beginnings adds a new dimension to their retro` program.

Having founded two of the most important bands of the last 20 years, Pussy Galore and Royal Trux, Hagerty already ranks among the geniuses of rock music. And his first solo album, Neil Michael Hagerty (Drag City, 2001), that comes almost as a career summary, as a final statement on what music is for him, as a revision of the themes that have always obsessed him, ranks among his top efforts (despite the synthetic rhythms and the smooth production, that somehow detract from the concept).
Hagerty has spent his life reinventing rock and roll. Even the weirdest moments on Twin Infinitives hinted at something that someone had done before. No matter how devastated his mind was and how personal his compositions sounded, Hagerty was talking about rock music. His first solo album delivers his ultimate statement on rock music.
The man's genius pops up mainly in the demented blues-rock jams Fortune And Fear (revolving around a "surfing" organ and a "ska" guitar, with hints at Santana and Iron Butterfly) and I Found A Stranger (a demonic blues and soul fest), and in the feverish space-rock of Tender Metal. But Hagerty's bizarre post-modernist science also yields Kall The Carpenter, a novelty that apes the beach combos of the 1960s, and The Menace, a novelty that mocks country music. His loony psychedelic spirit crafts the angelic anthem Oh To Be Wicked Once Again and the music-box theme of Repeat The Sound Of Joy. Know That offers a convoluted, slightly upbeat version of Suicide's electronic rockabilly.
In a way not too dissimilar from Neil Young's, each song is disfigured by wild guitar detours that one would term "acid" if it weren't obvious that they have nothing to do with drugs: they are more like snapshots of violent outbursts of brain activity.
Most of these rockers play in a neural juke-box, inside the thalamus, very early in the neural processing of instincts and emotions. This album is a shower of impulses from an electrocuted nervous system.

Further proof of Hagerty's spectacular maturity, the supersession Tramps Traitors and Little Devils (Drag City, 2001) with Edith Frost and Smog, includes Texas Dogleg, sounding like a deranged version of Crosby Stills Nash And Young the way Royal Trux's albums sound like deranged versions of the Rolling Stones, but with a thick, loud sound that harks back to Phil Spector's productions, and Everyday, a novelty in a skewed bubblegum style.

Neil Hagerty's post-modernist revision of the Sixties continues with the mini-album Plays That Good Old Rock And Roll (Drag City, 2002). Royal Trux had a "primitive", "minimal" (and often cacophonous) approach to the tradition that they were revisiting. In his middle age, Hagerty is crafting a musically more accomplished operation that highlights group playing and arrangements over the melodic skeleton. He is also stretching his wings well beyond the blues. However, the album opens with possibly a most explicit tribute to the blues revival of the 1960s, Gratitude, a languid, syncopated lament With guitar licks worthy of the old Chicago masters, vocals in the husky/raspy "born by the sun of the Delta" register, skewed vocal harmonies and a spacey, distorted Jerry Garcia-esque solo.
In Shaved a depraved Iggy Stooge-esque aria decays into a noisy, stormy Red Crayola-ish jam over a propulsive boogie bacchanal.
The lengthy, chugging Louisa LaRay features the spastic jamming and the deranged guitar solos that have made Royal Trux a landmark of modern rock music.
Those rowdy rave-ups alternate with softer, moodier pieces. Oklahoma Township delves into psychedelic folk-rock with Van Dyke Parks-ian arrangements. Hagerty concocts a wonderful recreation of spiritual and ragtime music in the catchy and sprightly It Could Happen Again (with divine backup vocals by Edith Frost). The folk-jazz shuffle of Some People Are Crazy mixes Syd Barrett and CS&N, while toying with piano, sax and violin. And more psychedelia surfaces in the confusion of voices of Sayonara, almost an appendix to Frank Zappa's America Drinks And Goes Home.
Alternately recalling a trippier Grateful Dead, a catchier 13th Floor Elevator, a looser Rolling Stones, a less sneering Stooges and a less acid Holy Modal Rounders, this album marks Hageryty's territory better than anything else he has done before. While inferior to Hagerty's first solo (if nothing else because it is so short), Plays provides more evidence of this visionary genius' monumental stature.

Neil Hagerty's new project, The Howling Hex (Drag City, 2003) is quite disappointing by his standards. Several of the songs are trivial, repetitive, predictable or simply sub-standard. Others strike a chord or two, but in a far safer territory than the one his genius used to roam. This is the Rolling Stones for a senile audience who needs to relax, not for a restless audience that wants to erupt. His take on boogie (Firebase Ripcord, blues (I'm Your Son), soul (Watching the Sands) and southern rock (Carrier Dog) is less and less original. His experiments, whether the jazzy She Drove a Rusted Shed or the seven-minute Creature Catcher, do not stand up to Twin Infinitives. That album was followed by Section 2 (2004) and The Return of the Third Tower (2004).

Jennifer Herrema formed RTX, a trio with Nadav Einsenmann and Jaimo Welch that released Transmaniacon (Drag City, 2004), which is both a rawer and a poppier affair than the last Royal Trux's albums. It opens with Limozine, a nasty girlish moan inscripted into a mass of abrasive syncopated sounds that parody old-fashioned hard-rock (the strand of Free and Bad Company). The riff dominates the Joan Jett-ish Joint Chief (virtually a re-write of I Love Rock'n'Roll with booming overtones worthy of Black Sabbath) and Low Ass Mountain Song. The (too short) guitar chaos of Psychic Self-defense introduces a set of more experimental variations on that theme: the distorted pop of Heavygator, the sloppy melody and droning dirty guitars of PB+J, the demented merry-go-round of Pulling Out Now, which are perhaps the most promising moments. The debut was followed by Western Xterminator (2007), which was de facto a tribute to the heavy-metal sound of the 1970s (Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult, Joan Jett).

Neil Hagerty's project Howling Hex became a full-fledged band for All Night Fox (Drag City, 2005) and You Can't Beat Tomorrow (Drag City, 2005), two albums that complement each other: the former is a chaotic rocker in the vein of Captain Beefheart (Now, We're Gonna Sing), the latter is an eccentric roots-rock detour. Both use his trademark drunk technique to orchestrate the music. The 23-song 1-2-3 (Drag City, 2006) collects the material of three limited-edition releases. Nightclub Version Of The Eternal (Drag City, 2006) sounds like Hagerty's "pop" album, basically the opposite of Twin Infinitives. The seven lengthy tracks manage to blend his unabashed self-indulgence (guitar solos, blues-rock jamming) and an acquired sense of structure.

Howling Hex's XI (2007) and Earth Junk (2008) and RTX's JJ Got Live RaTX (2008) were testaments to what a great collaboration it used to be and how much each one missed the other (artistically speaking).

The Howling Sex released Wilson Semiconductor (2011) and the archival three-LP set The Hildreth Tapes (2013).

Jennifer Herrema formed Black Bananas that released Rad Times Xpress IV (Drag City, 2012) and Electric Brick Wall (Drag City, 2014).

Hagerty joined Wooden Wand to make Qalgebra (2015) that contains the 18-minute Qalgebra.

The Howling Sex returned with Denver (2016) and the single Full Moon in Gemini (2016).

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