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Royal Trux | Pound For Pound | review | rock | Lollipop
Pound For Pound (Drag City)
by Jon Sarre
Unwrappin' a Royal Trux record is like gettin' an anonymous package in the mail; ya never know what yer gonna get. Sumptin' ya didn't expect, sumptin' ya wanted, a steamin' pounda dog shit, a dead fish (or the aural equivalent, anyway), an empty box (but, only if, I guess, someone at the pressing plant fucked up or deliberately stole yer disc, 'cept there was this one time when my girlfriend got a FedEx envelope delivered to her door, empty, 'cept for another, smaller envelope which was also empty. It was her birthday, so we called up the sender, some place in Connecticut and talked to some guy who apologized profusely and told us to discard the thing, neglectin' to tell us why he sent it in the first place - weird, I tell ya). Back to Trux, tho', Hagerty'n'Herrema and their various sidemen are world-renowned for bein' so maddingly inconsistent that virtually anything they release is a grab-bag, almost never mediocre, either great or so awful the word has not yet been coined to describe just how rancid (yet Royal Trux fans oft disagree on which records are which) they are.
If ya want my opinion, this new one, Pound For Pound, is a pretty good un, which, by my math, makes two thumbs up in a row for this ex-degenerate duo (two and a half, if ya count Three Song EP, which I initially hated, but then allowed to grow on my lobes, which is sorta how I got to like 'em in the first place). I dunno if mine ears have reached some kinda compromise with Neil and Jennifer's twisted musical mystique or if they've changed their junkie stumble to the point where we can all agree that it's a "rock oriented" chemical-art experience. Nowadays they've got this avant-hockey arena sound, kinda as if Grand Funk had the foresight and time to a) foster mega pretensions and b) run with 'em, whilst damnin' the Quaalude gulpers in the cheap seats.
What makes the whole Trux thang fun is, by comparison, everything else close (Jon Spencer, the Delta 72, Silver Jews, mebbe even White Hassle (still fun) or Beck (not so fun)) seems relentlessly frigid and formalistic. That's probably cuz no one else bothers to mix long'n'stoopid percussion interludes with dirty straycat blues'n'moronic '70s swinger slogans (see "Dr Gone," Pound For Pound's closer), why haven't they, I dunno, mebbe that's where Trux' genius lies. Cuz they do shit like that. Then there's the Latin funk number, "Small Thief," granted a corny hipster move if there ever was one, but again, they make such schlock out to be more than a parody (the way Sonic Youth or Pavement or Captain Beefheart usedta). Sure, ya can go one better and accuse Royal Trux of bein' parodies themselves (or parodies of themselves, depends on yer point of view), ya know, hipsters in old metal Tees ransackin' yard sale LPs and passin' Black Oak Arkansas rip-offs as art rock. Ya might be right too, but then again, it still beats "real" art rock over the head with a skillet.
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