Royal Trux: Platinum Tips + Ice Cream

Royal Trux, one of the most important American bands of all time, resurfaces with an anarchic yet smooth live set to remind disciples how it is done.

Royal Trux

Platinum Tips + Ice Cream

Label: Drag City
US Release Date: 2017-06-16

These days, it can be easy for the thousands of semi-similar, underfed, and often overhyped indie bands to blend in your head. After all, how many beach goth bands with an animal name does it take to throw reverb on a Fender while screwing in a lightbulb? I dunno, man, but there will only ever be one Royal Trux. All these years later, they remain one of the most important American rock bands of all time.

There are some bands -- like the Cure, Sonic Youth, Mercyful Fate, and even Sebadoh -- that would bring a large portion of the place down with them if you tried to remove them from the family tree house. There are just too many other branches supported by their influence. Whether they get enough credit or not (thankfully, they've gotten much more in recent years), Royal Trux is one of the most ripped off bands ever. Their sense of collage, swagger, fashion, and anti-fashion don't-give-a-fuck attitude wed to a zoned-out aesthetic has been poorly imitated by many (but without the same cool anarchic experimentation or intelligent, good songs).

Royal Trux's first record in nearly two decades, Platinum Tips + Ice Cream, has the band tearing through some live rippers with its red hot reconfigured classics that show that the band has not lost its elasticity, chemistry, or ability to tear it up, down, and all around. "Red Tiger" oozes out of the speakers like a sexy desert hazy crawl, while the early and experimental "Ice Cream" comes off very trippy and funky, with a lot more teeth grinding and strychnine on this version. It is nothing short of a thrill to hear guitar genius Neil Hagerty (who also sings) and rock queen vocalist Jennifer Herrema ease into stone cold grit rock jam "Sewers of Mars" and shake off the dust like no time has passed. It's just the DNA of rock 'n' roll in their bones: hardwired to self-deconstruct and reconstruct, baby.

A lot of people underestimated or underappreciated this band for years, but time has most certainly been on the pair's side. Fan favorites like "The Banana Question" are here, along with a light and bluesy "Blue Is the Frequency" from the perfect three-day bender album, Veterans of Disorder. You feel like you are watching the band as the smell of sunblock, beer, and armpits fills the air; each song sort of meanders to a start and then positively slays like second nature, Conan the Barbarian-style. These are scuzz rock versions with really cool vocals that sound like alley cats diggin' claws in hard. "Deafer Than Blind" is the best track here, giving you the feeling that alternative rock actually meant something and it was worth losing your hearing or weeding through however many crates of records to find that good mellow gold or the center of the tootsie roll pop (or any other metaphor you like).

Some people may have wanted a record of new material instead of what this is, and really, who knows if these two true rebels will ever do that? In the meantime, though, you also have tons of stuff from JJ's funky and brazen Black Bananas or Hagerty's super rad Howling Hex outfit to revisit, along with the many original Trux and a couple RTX records. Honestly, it was perfect for the band to come back with a live album that took just two days to make, captured their spirit of adventurism, and freshly contextualized it for new school fans while simultaneously making old school fans get big shit-eating grins. Plus, it's a way for Royal Trux to strut their stuff and remind disciples (or too-cool-for-school types) how it is done.

All in all, Platinum Tips + Ice Cream is the rare case of a band distilling its various eras coherently and presenting the whole of its parts in a way that makes you thrilled to partake in even a small portion of punk rock alien communion.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.