The Royal Treatment

Royal Trux's Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema are still just about the purest breath of old-school rock 'n' roll spirit left to inhale in indie-dom. They still mix Exile on Main Street-through-Black and Blue-era Stones with lessons learned as members of notorious NYC noise-rockers Pussy Galore. Like the Mekons, Sonic Youth, Neil Young and a handful of others, they're lifers who've reached a clear understanding of their craft. And on Pound for Pound, their glory-be-to-God ninth album (not including B-side comps, EPs, etc.), the Trux keep swinging their fierce blues-funk-rock.

On Pound for Pound Hagerty and Herrema apply their Beefheart-cum-Howlin' Wolf nicotine-stained vocal delivery to some of the sleekest and most gleaming grooves they've ever produced, without compromising one bit of their charm. Trading verses on the swampy, expansive "Deep Country Sorcerer" (RealAudio excerpt), trying a crunching Zep-style downbeat on "Sunshine and Grease" (RealAudio excerpt), even seducing a charming Afro-Latin rhythm to work for them on "Dr. Gone" (RealAudio excerpt) before it disintegrates into a Santana-at-the-Fillmore-style percussion jam, Royal Trux have fashioned an overheating dragster looking for an open road on which to shift down into sixth. For the converted, it's more proof that real rock is far from dead; for the uninitiated, there's no better place to begin believing again.

If there truly were an Almighty, He'd drive Lenny Kravitz and the Black Crowes to shame by haunting them with this record.