Hagerty and Herrema’s latest tour de force (and their ninth full-length), Pound For Pound bursts at the seams with fuzz and grit and cigarette butts.
As the Royal Trux, the duo has filtered their Stones-infected, heroin-injected dirty garaged-based rawk through a number of lenses for about 15 years—first through a series of hard-to-ingest late ‘80s/early ‘90s records for Chicago-based Drag City, then a flirtatious stint with major label Virgin, only to see themselves rejoin their former indie label’s roster with 1998’s Accelerator. Last year saw the release of Veterans of Disorder, an ambrosia of choppy, catchy “hits” and more drawn-out “experimental” material.
This time around, the Trux have concocted a smoky summer-lovin’ brew of decidedly cool tunes in the key of chic. The record begins with “Call Out the Lions,” whose first 30 second sounds not unlike something found on Ween’s seminal Chocolate & Cheese album before breaking into a Nuge-worthy power riff accentuated ever so sexily by Jennifer Herrema’s Marlboro rasp. Elsewhere, on cuts like “Sunshine and Grease,” the vocal interplay between Herrema and main songwriter/guitarist Neil Hagerty’s slightly obnoxious drawl works wonders in upping the sweat factor, if that is such a measure of greatness. His guitar solos flow like a molasses-on-rye sandwich of mid-‘70s era miles Davis and Keef at his strung-out six-string best (check out the seven-minute “Deep Country Sorcerer”), while percussionists Chris Pyle (son of Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artemis Pyle) and Ken Nasta provide psychedelically Latin-infused rhythms to compliment Hagerty’s array of axe effects. Pound For Pound contains a number of hum-worthy songs, some continuing in the bubblegum vein of “Waterpark,” off of Veterans of Disorder, yet without treading the exact same formula-something the band has been able to stray from all these years, and which keeps each of their releases as exciting as a feisty mutt who may or may not have gotten his rabies shots.
Royal Trux are blues for a generation that got everything it wanted, soul for the spoiled brats. Appearing so cool couldn’t be easier for them. In a rare case of equal parts style and substance, the band continues to provide improvisation and experimentation with reverence for its forefathers yet without giving a shit about what they, or anyone else might think.