After Royal Trux split up, it seemed that Neil Hagerty reclined into easy glory as the act's enduring talent, while Jennifer Herrema got played as "just the singer." Singer she is, but there is no "just" about it. The woman has as much weird vision and is as enigmatic of a talent as her former partner; she's also got a skeezy superstar steez (classic edition) and skunks around the stage clad in tails of animals she's skinned herself.

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After a rough start (approximately no one liked that first record), Herrema's dirt-rock spectacular RTX are doling out the skankiest stank rock with pitch-perfect aplomb. The forthcoming third album, JJ Got Live RaTX, is all riffs—a detonated jumble of 1974–'78's hottest licks, it could pass for bona fide vintage, save for the part where Herrema sings about using a fax machine at Kinkos. JJ Got Live RaTX owes less to, say, Van Halen than their previous works, and more to the Eagles' more antagonist moments on cheap street drugs. Songs take a backseat to solos, chugging, and noodling that sounds like Joe Walsh rocketing off the top of Cocaine Mustache Mountain.

Early cheese-metal thunder is ironic high art these days, but Herrema keeps it in the gutter where it belongs, growling and spitting with a dead sort of anger, her voice purring like she's on her ninth decade of a strictly Dorals-and-gin diet. On the ballads, she goes with more of a medicated whine. While the record is a righteous 36-minute ripper, half the fun of this band is to be had live, watching Herrema creep around onstage like a spider, snarling through her long bangs and filthy skintight jeans, commanding rock mythos revivified. recommended

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