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The Howling Hex - All-Night Fox

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Artist: The Howling Hex

Album: All-Night Fox

Label: Drag City

Review date: Apr. 18, 2005

Strange that the Howling Hex are touted as Neil Michael Hagerty's new "group" – try as I might, I can't seem to find a mention of any of the group's other members, not even the mysterious woman so ably complementing Hagerty's nasally faux-drawl throughout the course of All-Night Fox. Come to think of it, the Drag City website is even somewhat redolent to dish the fact that this is Hagerty's new band.

I could spend a couple hundred words here expounding on the history of one Neil Michael Hagerty, but I'll just assume you've spent some time getting extraordinarily baked while listening to Royal Trux's Twin Infinitives, and that you got some extra credit rifling through Dial M for Motherfucker and leave it at that. If you haven't, please do so now and see me after class for notes on what you missed. Since the Trux emerged from the Seventh circle of junkie hell, Hagerty's debt to classic ’70s rock (or "rawk" perhaps?) has become more and more pronounced, and yet it was always somewhat cloaked by a shroud of fucked up effects and/or Jennifer Herrema's "I just ate a bunch of broken glass and threw up in my mouth" vocal stylings.

Admittedly, I haven't been the biggest follower of Hagerty's solo career since the Trux imploded mid-tour a while ago. All-Night Fox doesn't really bring to mind much from his earlier efforts, instead grafting his hyper-kinetic trash-blooze guitar workouts on some muscular, stomping rock boogie.

This record, though, sounds like the most straight-forward thing Hagerty has ever done, which has its pros and cons. On the plus side, songs like "What, Man? Who Are You?" pulse convincingly enough to make me think I'm standing on the edge of a bayou with a whiskey in my hand, while the opening "Now We're Gonna Sing" sports a nifty street walking groove that could come in handy if I ever walk into a pool hall intent on hustling some chumps.

But, the downside is that tracks like "Pair Back Up Mass With" and "Instilled with Mem'ry" sound like CCR played a step too slow with some juvenile guitar heroics stapled to the rhythm track. Hey, maybe that's what our man here is going for but it leaves me looking for an excuse to spin this thing again. The best part of All-Night Fox is our unnamed female friend. But even her vocals can be so choked with reverb it leaves me struggling to find a point.

By Michael Crumsho

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