Neil Michael Hagerty The Howling Hex

Since Royal Trux broke up, Neil Hagerty sure hasn't been any slouch. He's put out three solo albums in as many years and still finds time to write comics and books. For anybody who's followed this guy's career, they're aren't any real surprises here with his usually great, rootsy Stones-esque soulful melodies meeting mind melting guitar work. How good is his guitar playing? Let's just say that when he really gets going, he sounds as unhinged as you thought you did when you jammed really high on acid. Sure, he can write sweet songs too, as the country gospel "Greasy Saint" proves, but let's face it, if it wasn't for the weird, sideways guitar style he's crafted over the years songs like "Creature Catcher" wouldn't be as special. The Howling Hex is a very long listen, a double album by old vinyl standards, clocking in at a hefty 65 minutes. It moves from along from live tracks to weird electronic segues to upbeat sing-alongs to noise jams and there just isn't an uninteresting idea in the whole bunch. (Drag City)