Home / CD Review: The Howling Hex – You Can’t Beat Tomorrow

CD Review: The Howling Hex – You Can’t Beat Tomorrow

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Former guitarist of Royal Trux and Pussy Galore, Neil Hagerty sounds surprisingly like Frank Black when he decides to sing falsetto, as on the freakish, almost indescribable opener, “Teenage Doors.” Chattering in a mass of drum samples and twiddling high-pitched acoustics, it begins a pattern of sorts for an album that’s shorter than most EPs at an even 29 minutes.

It feels as if there are two types of songs appearing on a revolving basis on You Can’t Beat Tomorrow. One variety belongs to a more experimental hip-hop orientated mode, white musicians taking on beats in the same approach as Beck or Ill Communication-era Beastie Boys (as on “Sick and Old #1”), and then there’s the smoking groves Hagerty deploys on every other track..

Sounding like you’ve just wandered into a jam in a blues bar, these songs feature an unusually “open” sound, recorded live and seemingly without any regard for meticulous production processes. Despite this distance from what you’re hearing, the natural approach manages to work wonders, Hagerty’s controlling of all motion with his guitar displaying a mastery of how to ride one simple, effective riff to its atmospheric peak.

The swinging funk of “Cobra Heart” and “SC Coward,” sizzling with the bends of Sixties-sounding guitar, and the glowing “No Numbers” – threaded with the crow of a muted horn – all feel like they contain as many elements as a party. Delightfully chaotic, you may strain to hear them, but Hagerty makes that an enjoyable process.

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