Royal Trux Return in True Rock 'n' Roll Fashion with 'White Stuff'

Photo courtesy of Grandstand Media

After 19 years of silence, Royal Trux returns rejuvenated and unleashes an old-school, energetic, and fun ride in White Stuff.

White Stuff
Royal Trux

Fat Possum

1 March 2019

When considering the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, there are few bands that embraced it and lived it more fully than Royal Trux. The origins of the band track back to the late 1980s in Washington, D.C., where the duo of Neil Michael Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema established their musical identity and released their self-titled debut in 1988. Royal Trux was rock 'n' roll in its purest form, and it appeared to settle the vision of the duo, but soon enough Hagerty and Herrema started experimenting with additional elements. The band's double record Twin Infinities, released in 1990 saw the realization of their true vision, incorporating noise rock qualities and featuring an experimental approach that was verging on the avant-garde.

Through the years Royal Trux wrestled between these two sides, their love for the directness of rock music in its standard form, and their need to push boundaries. Through a tumultuous journey, the band separated in 2001, following the release of Pound for Pound. However, in 2015 Hagerty and Herrema decide to resurrect Royal Trux, returning now with their first full-length in 19 years White Stuff.

So what happens to a band when they have been inactive for that long? When they release new music after almost two decades? Well, in the case of Royal Trux it feels like they never really broke up. From the starting notes of White Stuff, it feels like the group has somehow frozen time, arriving with the same energy and attitude they possessed in the late '80s. The opening track lets in all the sleaziness of rock music, setting the tone for the record. The slow pace, cheesy lead guitar work, and pitchy vocals transport you back to the band's inception. Their cool and dirty riffs showcase what this band is all about, and when dropping the pace as with "Year of the Dog", they truly unleash all this rock 'n' roll stench goodness to the fold.

White Stuff is a love letter to rock music, and it stays in that domain for most of its duration. When it comes to experimentation, that is handled sparingly and mostly on the background. The notions and concepts of Twin Infinities are not found in this record, but Royal Trux still embrace a slight touch of noise rock at times, with the background of "Year of the Dog". The audio effects and noise disciplines are used to create a more hazy offering, as is the case with "Purple Audacity #2". This is an approach that also helps immensely towards producing this sweeter, more laid back tonality. "Suburban Junkie Lady" is a testament to that end, with the track revealing an almost endearing characteristic, as the guitars build this hazy urban scenery. Bluesy tones further drive this point, with "Whopper Dave" showing a very smooth and free-flowing progression, while psychedelia is never far away, and is finally revealed in all its glory with "Purple Audacity #1".

What remains at the end with White Stuff is the sense that Royal Trux are simply having fun. It is a feeling that rushes to the surface throughout the various moments of the record, be it with the slower, downtempo moments, the heavier riffs, or the amazing guest appearance of rapper Kool Keith in "Get Used to This". And even though this work does not find the band at its most adventurous, it is an album that completely represents what Royal Trux is all about. To retain that flame for that amount of time, and through a 14-year long break, is quite astounding.






A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.