Described as a “dissonant junkie nightmare” the Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema lead Royal Trux was one of two groups, the other being the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, to arise from the 1990 breakup of Washington D.C.’s Pussy Galore. The early albums of Royal Trux resemble little that can be called traditional rock & roll; but as both Hagerty and Herrema were both junkies what can you expect. The 1990 release of Twin Infinitives brought them to the attention of the critics, who compared it to Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica. Party music this isn’t. Newly sober they released Cats and Dogs in 1993. Adding three other musicians the group started to sound like a rock band. Their sound was vintage 70’s Stones, grimy and raunchy. As part of the alternative feeding frenzy of the mid 90’s the group was signed by Virgin Records, but after two records found itself back on Drag City. By mid 2000 the band had disbanded; although Herrema resurrected the group as RTX and released a new cd in 2004.
Royal Trux (Drag City, 1988)
Primitive guitar chords, howled vocals, white noise and occasionally a bit of song structure Royal Trux’s eponymous debut album; depending on your place on the generational divide is either is totally unlistenable or rates a 7 out of 10 from the “Spin Alternative Record Guide” (1995). I’ll let you be the judge.
1. Bad Blood (2:51) 2. Incineration (2:16) 3. Strawberry Soda (2:42)
4. Hashish (2:06) 5. Sanction Smith (1:42) 6. Zero Dok (2:38) 7. Touch (2:34)
8. Bits and Spurs (5:02) 9. Esso Dame (2:26) 10. Sice I Bones (3:23)
11. Gold Dust (1:39) 12. Jesse James (3:52) 13. Andersonville (5:53) 14. The Set-Up (2:20) 15. Walking Machine (3:00) 16. Hawk’n Around (3:14)
Royal Trux (Drag City, 1992)
1992’s untitled album finds Royal Trux tentatively leaving the noise behind and beginning to write “real” songs. It’s still sloppy, but it shows a band in transition.
1. Air (3:25) 2. Move (3:59) 3. Hallucination (3:29) 4. Junkie Nurse (4:09)
5. Sometimes (2:11) 6. Lightning Boxer (5:58) 7. Blood Flowers (3:58) 8. Sun On The Run (5:08)
Cats and Dogs (Drag City, 1993)
With Hagerty and Herrema both clean, and the addition of three musicians Royal Trux begins to sound like a rock and roll band. The sound is mid 70’s Stones, grimy and raunchy, but the group has begun to finally move away from the noise and extreme primitivism of the first three records.
1.Teeth (5:00) 2.The Flag (2:23) 3.Friends (2:37) 4.The Spectre (2:07)
5.Skywood Greenback Mantra (3:10) 6.Turn of the Century (7:04)
7.Up the Sleeve (4:26) 8.Hot and Cold Skulls (2:33) 9.Tight Pants (2:29)
10.”Let’s Get Lost” (3:01)
11.Driving in That Car (With The Eagle on The Hood) (6:50)