MP3: Balls to Pass
As a member of the (dysfunctional) Toxic Twins (Royal Trux) back in the early ’90s, Jennifer Herrema and her then-hubby Neil Hagerty made their living reHASHing riffs from ’70s bands ranging from the STONE(d)S to the Velvet Underground. PEAKing with 1993’s Cats and Dogs, Royal Trux benefited tremendously from Nirvana’s jump from an indie to a major and in the mid-90s SCOREd a deal with Virgin Records and released their most coherent album, Thank You, which was full on ’70s hard rock with fuzzy riffs and a hot damn funky-ass backbeat. Herrema and Hagerty ended both the band and their marriage in the earlier part of this decade and in the divorce, Herrema got to keep the RTX letters out of Royal Trux (which she is currently using as the name of her new band) while Hagerty got the OYALRU which the singer/guitarist has hidden away in a shoebox beneath his bed.
Having buried (for the most part) her infatuation with the ’70s, Herrema moves in the ’80s with RTX on the band’s CRACKling new release, Western Xterminator. There is little doubt that when gathering up musicians to be part of RTX, Herrema searched the gutters of L.A.’s Sunset Strip for leftovers from the early ’90s sleaze rock scene that produced bands like Faster Pussycat, Guns N’ Roses and the Sea Hags (yes, technically from the Bay Area). Western Xterminator is a badass glam metal album with riffs that haven’t been heard since Rikki Rachtman was hosting Headbanger’s Ball and interviewing Junkyard on the ratty couch in MTV’s studios.
If only Herrema possessed the voice of Lita Ford or that chick with the big hair from Vixen, Western Xterminator might be the best release of 2007 (or at the least the coolest 1991 album released this year) but, unfortunately, Herrema’s hard-to-understand lyrics and droning vocals are buried so deep in the mix that it’s often hard to pick them out. Still, I’d recommend checking out tracks like “Balls to Pass” (with a closing riff that sounds suspiciously like Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”), the thrash-metal (WHAT THE FUCK???? THRASH METAL???) “Wo-Wo Din” with it’s grunting vocals, and “Rat Will Kill” which opens like “Heaven’s on Fire” by Kiss.