Release Date: Sep 23, 2008
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Earth Junk is the sixth (re)incarnation of Neil Michael Hagerty’s ever-shifting band of musical pranksters, the Howling Hex. Each Hex record strays further and further from Hagerty’s trashy brilliant rock 'n' roll hell child Royal Trux, leaving that strung-out gorgeous guitar in the past along with his ex-wife and ex-partner in Truxian crime, Jennifer “RTX” Herrema. This version of the Hex waltzes with New Border sass and cheeky ranchero hijinx.
While some might argue that scratching your head is part of the fun with Tommy, Tales From Topographic Oceans, or The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, there’s no denying that concept albums are particularly prone to narrative lapses, wanky instrumental passages spotlighting undistinguished instrumentalists, and all manner of miscellaneous bloat. Neil Michael Hagerty (ex-Royal Trux) has stepped into this cesspool of confusion to impose a bit of scientific rigor. Sound research design dictates that an experimenter should isolate his or her variables.
For whatever cosmic reason, both of these discs from the post-Royal Trux outfits of Jennifer Herrema and Neil Michael Hagerty sound like a distillation of what they’ve wrung from their separate muses since 2000. But they also mark the point at which the rate of return starts to diminish. Herrema’s goofily earnest sleaze rock, right down to the study-hall notebook doodling of RTX’s CD-packaging art, comes off predictably loud and snotty on third studio album JJ Got Live RaTX.