Track: "Primetime Clown"
From: The Best of the Howling Hex LP
Label: Drag City
Released: February 19, 2013
Since the demise of his near-legendary out-rock outfit Royal Trux, Neil Hagerty has been turning out records under a shifting array of handles: first as Neil Michael Hagerty, then Neil Michael Hagerty and the Howling Hex, then The Howling Hex feat. Neil Michael Hagerty, and, finally, recently, just rolling tight, as band, under the Howling Hex handle.
The records he's made have been all-over-the-place —sonically, stylistically, and in terms of quality— but, then again, Royal Trux were that way, too. Hagerty's new LP is called The Best of the Howling Hex, but it's title is a ruse; this is no Best-Of, but just the band's latest. That said, the joke is grounded in truth: it may be the best the Howling Hex have sounded.
The Best of the Howling Hex is an album of super-tight, jittery, quirky garage-rock that sounds a little like Thee Oh Sees channeling The Feelies. The almost-ska-like "Primetime Clown" is a prime example; all wound-up tension, caffeine-buzz energy, and stop-on-a-dime tautness.