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JJ Got Live RaTX

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Album Review

Jennifer Herrema has RTX's avant-pop-metal down to a science, with her fierce, fearsome growl and guitar pyrotechnics taking the lead and rock-solid rhythms and peripheral weirdness backing them up. Her band's albums even have similar structures, putting the poppiest tracks first, then a ballad, then closing with a headbanging free for all of the heaviest songs. JJ Got Live RaTX — which, contrary to its name, is not a live album, although it rocks hard enough to pass for one — follows the RTX formula so precisely that it ends up being some of the band's most consistent music, almost to the point of being monochromatic. Where Western Xterminator and, especially, Transmaniacon managed to be insanely rocking and varied, JJ Got Live RaTX sticks mostly to a palette of heavy, heavy rock with few tangents. That's not to say that this is a boring album: the badass anthem "You Should Shut Up" begins JJ Got Live RaTX with almost two minutes of synth and vocoder foreplay before it really kicks in with guitars that go beyond the hairiest of metal and Herrema's total shutdown of jive-talking fools, and the squealing, preening "How'd You Do It?" shows that Herrema hasn't lost the touch for pop-metal that she's shown since Royal Trux's heyday. Like the Trux, RTX's heaviness is never ironic; they really mean it, but what they mean is often far from straightforward. They make the Barbarians' "Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl" even more gender-bending, with Herrema singing about tight pants and long hair in a snarl that sounds more androgynous than ever. The album's lone ballad, "Cheap Wine Time," is another standout, equal parts Stones-y strut and GN'R power ballad pomp as it moves from drunken bliss to kiss-off, like a night of partying gone bad. However, by the second half of JJ Got Live RaTX, it's hard to tell if the album is toploaded or if RTX's dedication to nonstop rock is greater than their listeners'. While nothing gets quite as heavy as Western Xterminator — although "Virgina Creeper"'s grind comes close — tracks like "Birthday Song," "Hash" and "Mr. Wall" feel like parts of a larger, mega-metal piece, a slab of solos, and growling so dense that, after a while, it becomes strangely atmospheric. Even if JJ Got Live RaTX doesn't show off everything RTX can do, it still has enough pure hedonistic fun to satisfy fans.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Just over four years after Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema disbanded the original version of Royal Trux, Herrema returned to music with RTX, a band that applied the swagger and snarl of Accelerator-era Trux to a different lineup. Nadav Eisenmann and Jaimo Welch joined Herrema on RTX's debut, The Transmaniacon, which was released by Royal Trux's longtime label, Drag City, in fall 2004. Brian McKinley and Kurt Midness joined the fold for 2007's Western Xterminator, an even grittier, more potent distillation...
Full bio
JJ Got Live RaTX, RTX
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