RTX CD review [Drag City]
Mar 20, 2007, 14:46
RTX Western Xterminator CD
Make no mistake—RTX's second full-blown release is a hard rock album. It's not trying to subvert, teach, or deconstruct. It doesn't wink, smirk or giggle. It just rocks.
While most Royal Trux fans will be thrown off by the title track, a psych folk drone full of hand drums and Amon Duul I-inspired noodling that opens the album, this tasty number is an anomaly—welcome though it is—and is most likely bandleader Jennifer Herrema's way of showing everyone she can out-psych the psych-folk set. She does. From here on, though, the album kicks into high gear and never slows down. “Wo Wo Din” is thrash metal gone stony, and like the opening riffs to many of these songs, parts of it could easily be mistaken for Cinderella or Ratt, at least until the flange kicks in. Herrema is clearly and wisely playing to her strengths, as she's always proven an exemplary rock vocalist, and here, she impresses throughout. The faithful cover of Fang's “The Money Will Roll Right In” is perfect, right down to Herrema updating the reference to a certain Hollywood starlet to reflect a desire to fuck the singer of Motley Crue.
Western Xterminator is also notable in that it continues to cast a light on Herrema's tendencies toward â€˜rock' arrangements, and in titles like “Dude Love” and “Balls to Pass,” one can begin to sketch out exactly how formidable her influence was in Royal Trux. The album's last track, “Rats Will Kill,” even wanders into prog territory, with its synthesizers and echo-y vocals ending the album on a creative high note. Suddenly, Twin Infinitives doesn't seem all that long ago.
The jury may still be out on whether or not the sorely missed Royal Trux were more than the sum of their parts, but Herrema and her band continue to make some of the most inventive and vital rock music today. Western Xterminator will be misunderstood, sure, but only by assholes. For the rest of us, it is an absolute pleasure to listen to from start to finish, and likely one of the best records of its kind in a long, long while. [Drag City—NOT in stores until March 20th, 2007]
-James Jackson Toth