Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: Drag City
In the early 90s, indie rock was essentially synonymous with lo-fi, as upstart artists embraced four-track recording for its cost-effectiveness, DIY egalitarianism, and aesthetic remove from the increasingly commercialized nature of alternative rock. But by decade's end, many of the movement's most visible proponents-- Guided by Voices, Pavement, Sebadoh-- had traded up to bigger labels, bigger recording budgets, and proper producers, effectively defining the idea of lo-fi as a formative phase that bands inevitably outgrow. Royal Trux seemed destined to follow the same trajectory.
Accelerator was first released in 1998 – Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema’s seventh album, as it then stood – which afforded it that crucial arm’s-length perspective from which to squint at, chew over and ultimately batter the fizzing electro-piss out of the FX-bloated production clusterfuck that formed much of what had apologetically passed for ‘rock’ in the Eighties. And thus, as the third and final panel in a curious sonic triptych – Thank You and Sweet Sixteen before it had each cocked similarly abstruse, semi-affectionate snooks at the aesthetic flourishes of the Sixties and Seventies respectively – Accelerator had its work relatively clearly cut out. Of course, this being Royal Trux, we knew to expect a little roughness around the edges… in the event, Accelerator would prove rougher than a speedball comedown wearing sandpaper undercrackers.
Drag City has made a habit of putting out some pretty obscure reissues in the past few years. It may have started with hidden gems like Gary Higgins’ Red Hash, but by the time we got to Carol Kleyn’s harp records, we were firmly in the outliers category. Now, their new reissue of Royal Trux’s 1998 album Accelerator doesn’t exactly fit that mold, which makes it curious right off the bat.
Fourteen years on, this still sounds like the undiscovered future of rock‘n’roll. Garry Mulholland 2012 When Accelerator was first released in 1998, many alt-rock fans didn’t get what the critical fuss was about. The surrounding stuff about Royal Trux's twin bandleaders - Sid-and-Nancy-like couple Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty - being unrepentant heroin users, or about the album being the last in a trilogy dedicated to specific decades (following Thank You’s tribute to the 60s and Sweet Sixteen’s look at the 70s) didn’t help, especially as Accelerator sounded nothing like the 80s.