by Greg Baise
Sure rock died in 59 or 69 or 77 or 87 (go ahead and take your pick) but Royal Trux make rock sound like what rock should or maybe even could sound like in 1999. Jennifer Herrema (vocals) and Neil Hagerty (vocals, guitar), the partnership behind the Trux, have been there and back, seizing possibilities throughout their career. They truly capture that rock energy, whether its just the two of them wallowing in hazy abstraction, or when they use a full band and the record companys bank account to top the big guys at their own game with their take on post-Exile guitar rock.
Veterans favors the latter mode, with "Waterpark" (their most AC/DClike tune yet!), piano ballads, downer post-Zep rock blues, even some flutey, fruity Tin Pan Alley psych ditties, and of course Herremas charismatic brat-growl. Theyve also hooked up with a guy who brings preprogrammed Casio rhythms to real life with his arsenal of Latin and Caribbean percussion. Suffice to say, Jimmy Buffett this aint.
Its good and groovy, and arrives just in time to crank out through your car windows during these last days of summer.
Then, halfway through, they flip you over with "SickAzz Dog," one of their most abstract tunes since the mighty Twin Infinitives. The absolute highlight comes at the end of Veterans, with "Blue is the Frequency." Starting with two mellow verses and a chorus, the lions share of this nine-minute song finds Hagerty in guitar-god mode, creating some of the most inspiring rock solo fretwork in recent memory. Guest stars Dave Pajo (bass) and Jon Theodore (drums) lay down the heavy plod while Neil goes off into uncharted and pretty much unprecedented territory for the Trux.
If these guys were "scene-uniters," then "Blue" might be their "Marquee Moon." But theyre living in the Virginia countryside, and the kids are getting down to the Bizkit. Not sure where the Trux are headed, dont know where theyre gonna drop you off, but if youre a rocker, be glad that theyre driving. Heres your rock record of the year.
On Thursday, Sept. 16, Royal Trux play at Detroits Gold Dollar (3129 Cass Ave., 313-833-6873). Theyll also make an in-store appearance at Royal Oaks Neptune Records earlier in the day. Call Neptune for details at 248-586-0519.