Pop music can be a difficult terrain to navigate: just what do you feel okay listening to, and can you admit to it? This issue is at the heart of dozens of websites (like myspace.com and last.fm) and grips millions of young people searching for their Pan.
Myself, I pretty much decided that I’d stick with Royal Trux about seven years ago. For me, their blend of free jazz, 70’s opiate-rock, RnB, boogie-woogie and smart, personal, witty, political lyrics was enough. Despite my liking for bands such as The Fall, I am still certain that Royal Trux sum up what it is I want pop music to be: cool, sexy, angry, bored, wasted, wise.
Neil Hagerty, one half of Royal Trux is my first pop music hero. He was a guitarist in Pussy Galore, a band now confined to the ‘most mental album I own’ category (a bit like Royal Trux?!)… and while I’m unsure as to how much influence he had on the values of that group, I’m aware that he was behind their covering the entire Exile On Main Street album. A declaration of intent, perhaps.
Through their albums, Royal Trux have covered enough material for a complete website or two (see the links in my sidebar). Suffice to say, I drank a bottle of vodka the night they broke up. Stupid of me. It should have been juice. Since then, Neil Hagerty has released a series of albums (firstly solo, now with The Howling Hex), all of which I’ve found to be entertaining, challenging and good pop records. My favourites are probably the two solo/band crossover records, Niel Michael Hagerty – The Howling Hex and The Howling Hex – All Night Fox. Continue reading Neil Hagerty, Ian Svenonius: Two pop music heroes you may not know but, like, should →
New-ish records I have been listening to recently:
The Howling Hex – You Can’t Beat Tomorrow
This is Neil Hagerty’s latest album and a sort-of follow up to All Night Fox. he kept the band name this time, but the music is completely different. He’s added some odd syncopated electronic percussion and more acoustic guitar than in All Night Fox. Certainly he seems to be going for a sound that resembles listening to a band from outside the Hall. Favourite tracks: Apache Energy Plan (this is a theme continuing on from earlier Neil Michael Hagerty albums, but I still don’t know what it means); You Can’t Beat Tomorrow; No Numbers.
1 out of 1 – Buy Here Download ‘Apache Energy plan’ from Drag City here.
The Fall – Fall Heads Roll
I really like this album. Mark E Smith sounds a bit more like Shaun Ryder than he used to, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he’s managed to produce a tight, thumping album. Out of ‘new Fall’ records, this is one of the best. The big single: I Can hear The Grass Grow is pretty melodic, but then it’s a cover. Actually, the version I have on my Complete Peel Sessions is markedly better. Anyway, both of these albums are perfect listening for the fade to winter: they inject a little bit of summer into every listen. But just a tad.
1 out of 1 – Buy Here
The failure on my part to do any blogging recently is a result of:
- having a new job
- temperatures reaching 35 degrees
- knocking down a shed
- the lack of things interesting enough to discuss, often brought on by Summer
For the record, I’m getting GTA:San Andreas next week. I am not interested in Live8. I think it’s only right that they ban smoking in public places. I’m worried about the red meat. I think Neil Michael Hagerty is some sort of musical wonder. I was burnt by the sun yesterday. We’re going to Benicassim this year. If I get the days off from my new boss. I like Saskia and Makosi in Big Brother, but only for their minds. I loathe media types talking about David and Victoria Beckham – the snide snobbery of some people is really too much to take.
The summer listening:
Royal Trux – Cats and Dogs (always at the top of the list anyhow)
The Howling Hex – All Night Fox
The Rolling Stones
Jefferson Airplane, the Worst Of
Jimi Hendrix live at Woodstock
Love Forever Changes
Supergrass, Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, David Bowie.
(ie all the usual stuff… I like the fact you can get away with guitar solos when it’s really hot.)
The day I received Neil Michael Hagerty’s last album: The Howling Hex, I immediately got on to “my people” at amazon.co.uk (much cheaper/faster than buying from Drag City, at least for me), to order All-Night Fox, the new album from his new band The Howling Hex. OK so his band is called the same as his last album… it must be some kind of trick? Or is it MagicScience?
Yes and now I have the album. It’s good. HH is good because it has some great songs on it. ANF is good because it’s concept without being unlistenable. I’m not going to wax all lyrical here because frankly I can’t get most of the lyrics. But then I’ve only listened to it about 3 times. I just dig the rock music.
There are some silly/wordy reviews around spouting blabbering-crap as per usual. Don’t try and get revisionist on us, Billy Fields, cause you ain’t the bee’s knees. Any punk who starts a “hey the Trux sucked” sort of piece ought to be careful he isn’t getting a little too big for his boots. Billy Boy. In fact, after re-reading his tripe, I must say it’s good. Check out his other reviews cos this boy don’t know shit, but he can write just like anybody else!
Just got the seemingly ancient Neil Michael Hagerty album The Howling Hex. Oh believe the hype, boys and girls. It’s great. Even the wacky violin tracks. EVEN the bit that sounds a tiny amount like Manu Chao. This is an album I can enjoy summer to. So this morning, I only went and placed an order for the apparently even better All-Night Fox.
I feel all the anti-Transmaniacon emotion now. Cos while Jennifer has come up with some passably decent spoof-metal songs, and she has the skulls to prove it, The Howling Hex continues The Royal Trux better than anything Jennifer has come up with. I guess I could put on Transmaniacon and we’d sit round and sort of giggle at the OTT guitar and autotuning… the killer riffs and the ripped-off lyrics (from two great Trux songs, Shockwave rider and Sweet Sixteen no less). Maybe it’s got to do with the way I only really listen to Cats and Dogs these days, but the Howling Hex manage to continue the jazzy, rock’n’roll free music feel, the lyrics are good, and sadly I don’t even miss Jenn’s singing. Maybe her next work will be a bit more honest and less posture. She said all this shit recently in an interview about listening to the Rocky IV soundtrack for two months or something. “I like winners” she said. Well the Howling Hex is a fuck’s sight better than RTX.
So summer evenings aren’t far away… they get into your blood and lift up your soul. Girls in skirts, warm mornings, sultry evenings, beers on the terrace, tending my roses, late night sessions at PlaÃ§a Reial and the chiringuitos… Here we go……….