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All-Night Fox

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Album Review

Seems like Neil Hagerty has taken the name Howling Hex and run with it: not only is that the title of one of his best solo albums, it's now the moniker for another phase of his post-Royal Trux career. After a trio of vinyl-only releases limited to 500 copies, Howling Hex makes its CD debut with the excellently named All-Night Fox. After hearing this album, those who slept on the band's earlier work will be able to see why die-hard Hagerty fans snapped up those albums so quickly: All-Night Fox is some of his most audacious, entertaining music in a while. The album's fuzzed-out blues-rock is both more immediate and more unhinged than much of his Neil Michael Hagerty solo work, and though it's seemingly simple, with almost stupidly catchy basslines and wiry, Southern-fried guitar licks that are too tightly-wound to be wanky, it's far from straightforward. As on some of Howling Hex's earlier albums, Hagerty is joined by an uncredited female singer who adds a very different sound, and feeling, to his music. Her pretty voice and detached style of singing make lyrics like "Dangerous enough/Red, white, black and blue" sound even stranger and more subversive than when Hagerty sings them by himself. He exploits the contrast between their voices, cloaking the woman's voice in different layers of reverb that give songs such as "Now We're Gonna Sing" and "Instilled With Mem'ry" an underlying trippiness. This hypnotic quality extends to the whole album; its circular guitar riffs and the variations on themes from song to song make it loopy in both senses of the word, but this doesn't make All-Night Fox any less enjoyable. Things slow down a bit with the shuffling "To His Own Front Door" and "What Man? Who Are You?!," which is kind of a relief since the album gets off to such a relentless start. Howling Hex's mini-album approach seems to suit Hagerty well; whether it's a spin-off from his main solo work or the next phase of it, as All-Night Fox shows, it brings out the weirdest, catchiest aspects of his music.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The always prolific Neil Michael Hagerty took the name of his group the Howling Hex from his 2003 solo album Neil Michael Hagerty & the Howling Hex. The band -- which featured Hagerty and a cast of mostly anonymous supporting musicians -- debuted later that year with Introducing the Howling Hex, a vinyl-only release limited to 500 copies. The album's rough, swampy sound recalled Royal Trux excursions like Twin Infinitives and Hand of Glory. Released in 2004, The Return of the Third Tower and Section...
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All-Night Fox, The Howling Hex
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