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Howling Hex - Earth Junk

  by Andrew Carver

published: 6 / 12 / 2008

Howling Hex - Earth Junk
Label: Drag City
Format: CD


Brisk-sounding garage rock on brief latest album from former Royal Trux star Neil Hagerty's revolving consortium, Howling Hex

Neil Hagerty has become quite prolific since leaving Royal Trux to produce albums under his own name and as the guiding light of Howling Hex – the number now hovers around a dozen since the turn of the century. While Hagerty’s harmolodic guitar stitches the projects together, he makes a habit of changing his backing crew, providing a different sound for almost every work. On Howling Hex’s last album, 2007’s brassy ‘XI’, he had guitarist Michael Signs, twin percussionists Phil Jenks and Amdy McLeod and flautist Rob Lee on hand. For ‘Earth Junk’, he has organist Sweeney Tidball and singer Eleanor Whitmore as support. While Hagerty’s spiky repeating riffs and wiry, somewhat scratchy vocals are the album’s main features, Tidball and Whitmore provide a distinct coloration to the album. The album kicks off with some of Tidball’s carousel organ and bleeping electronics from Hagerty on ‘Big Chief Big Wheel’. Sheets of reverberating guitar and Whitmore’s breezy “la-la-las” creep up from behind while Hagerty’s somewhat nasal voice reels off an oblique and bitter narrative. Whitmore steps to the front on ‘Faithful Sister’, offering a breezy, melancholy pop vocal over Hagerty’s metronomic, twisting guitar. She also make a prominent showing in ‘Blood & Dust’ over some tinny, strummed acoustic guitar. Her singing takes a vital role in ‘Contraband and Betrayal’ as well, forming a lead chorus over heavily tremeloed and distorted guitar licks. Hagerty finishes the album solo, chanting "Oh why?" over some more strummed guitar. The barebones backing and fondness for musical repetition might have worn out its welcome over a longer album, but ‘Earth Junk’ is a pretty brisk listen at 10 tracks over 33 minutes. Earlier albums like ‘All Night Fox’ are better starts for the uninitiated, but ‘Earth junk’ provides another fresh and interesting listen for his devotees.

Track Listing:-
1 Big Chief Big Wheel
2 Sundays Are Ruined Again
3 Annie Get Redzy
4 Faithful Sister
5 Contraband & Betrayal
6 No Good Reason
7 The Arrows
8 Blood & Dust
9 Coffin up Cash
10 O Why, Sport Coat?

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