Jennifer Herrema gave us one of this year's best records with that Black Bananas album, but now it's time to look back at her earlier band (along with Neil Hagerty), Royal Trux.
Drag City have once again done a great job with another Royal Trux reissue. This time it's 1998's semi-breakthrough Accelerator.
"I'm Ready" kicks things off with a barrage of noise and a vaguely "Layla"-esque guitar/keyboard whirring noise -- a clanging mess that sounds unlike anything else released in 1998.
"Yellow Kid" wheezes in like Neil Young's bad dream of a Beck record, while "The Banana Question" sounds like the Stones -- not surprisingly -- but an "Undercover of the Night"-era Stones morphed into something genuinely deranged and frightening.
"Another Year" is a relatively well-structured rocker with a synth-y undercurrent. It's a sinuous and sinister little rocker with Neil Hagerty snarling the lyrics over that insistent little riff.
"Juicy, Juicy, Juice" is a funky, sloppy, downright silly track that still charms some 14 years after this album was first released.
"Liar" sees Hagerty sounding like some neopsychedelic madman. The track is what those early Beck records tried to be. But this is the real deal.
"New Bones" is more space-y with Hagerty's vocals going in-and-out of the mix. A serious mind-fuck, this track is the sort of thing that plays in an old film when a character gets stoned for the first time.
"Follow the Winner" is more blues business with a messy mix of sounds and instruments threatening to engulf the nearly Soundgarden-like central riff.
"Stevie (For Steven S.)" may or may not be about Steven Seagal but it's a slinky number that serves as the near-high point of this record. If Accelerator is a noisy and unfocused record -- in spots, at least -- this is the smooth finale, full of emotion and melody.
I keep stressing the messiness of Accelerator but it's a glorious kind of messiness. No one is making records like this in 2012 -- Prince Rama come close with their layers of sound -- and, quite frankly, very few people in 1998 were making records like this.
Quite possibly Royal Trux's masterpiece -- or at least their most concise distillation of their sound -- Accelerator is an essential addition to any music fan's library.
If you have just one Royal Trux record in your library, it should probably be this one.
For more details on Accelerator and other Royal Trux reissues head on over to Drag City.