TRIPLE HEX – Triple Hex

Brooklyn’s Triple Hex have shared a stage with The Cramps.  They’ve shared a stage with The Gun Club’s Kid Congo Powers.  Their debut album is under-produced by Heavy Trash’s Matt Verta-Ray.  That, in essence, is all you need to know.  If you’re still reading, this garage rock three-piece could have a few numbers up their sleeve which appeal.

This debut full-length starts with with ‘JMZ’ – a reasonable garage/surf instrumental. The guitar twang overlaying the main riff of ‘JMZ’ is quite pleasing but the track is completely reliant on that to carry the whole piece.  It could have perhaps done with a little more embellishment. Following that, ‘Gotta Move’ is a predictable slice of garage rock.  The riffs are solid and Dave Attitudi’s vocals have the right amount of sneer, but even so, it’s the kind of thing you’ll have heard delivered much better from a Stooges record…  By the time the third number ‘Got a Girl’ kicks in, Triple Hex take turn things up a notch.  Featuring a dual vocal between Attitudi and drummer Julie Hex, there’s far more energy on show.  The main riff presents itself like the bastard child of The Cramps and The Stooges served up by Mudhoney.  A slightly lighter lead vocal provides the perfect accompaniment for the fuzzy garage tones and a sloppy guitar solo adds extra bite.

During The Velvet Underground inspired ‘365’, Triple Hex lapse mid paced workout which features heavy handed chords and a slurring vocal which drags a little.  It could be said it works quite well as homage to The Velvet Underground, but why settle for second best? If you like The Velvet Underground, chances are you aren’t likely to be swayed by imitation.  ‘Hazy Hot & Humid’ works its way around a well-worn blues riff coupled by a drum line which appears inconsistent at best.  A lead guitar struggles to find its space among the rhythm and ends up sounding ugly.  Julie Hex’s featured lead vocal (bordering on the tuneless) doesn’t help matters either.

‘Drivin’ features some cool staccato riffs, underpinned by swirling, organ noises courtesy of Triple Hex’s third member, Miss Chip.  The drum sound has a nice amount of live-in-the-studio reverb, while Dave’s vocal lead channels his inner Jon Spencer, but doesn’t quite have the edge.  The finished arrangement is augmented by a selection of backwards guitar noises, which add an extra quirk.  A similar mood provides the heart of ‘Coney Island Time’; thanks to a great garage riff (featuring some understated slide work, drowned out by the main guitar) and a straight up no-frills approach, it’s one of the album’s clear standouts. ‘Zebra Rug’ is a swaggering number which delivers a similar mood to Stray Cats‘ ‘Stray Cat Strut’, but instead of being sassy, it’s quite laboured. Dave’s drawling vocal and atonal guitar work have a certain charm in their deliberate ugliness – the featured solos make Greg Ginn sound like a blues master – but after a couple of plays, it loses its initial ramshackle cheekiness, and you have to wonder if the band were actually being serious.

Outdoing ‘Got a Girl’, ‘Alarm Clock Heart Attack’ captures Triple Hex in fantastic form.  The fuzzy guitars are spot on, Dave’s vocal sounds suitably spiteful, the pounding drum is in sync with the riffs, a while the riffs themselves deliver cool garage grooves by the bucketload.  Sounding like a mid-paced Cramps crossed with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in a particular earthy mood, Triple Hex prove that they can equal their peers when they want to… It’s just a shame they don’t seem to want to very often.

Compared to Triple Hex’s promising 2005 EP ‘Phantom Highway 13’, this full-length is somewhat of a disappointment.  It’s raw and occasionally edgy, with a few great tunes, but sadly, most of the time it doesn’t have the chops needed to make an indelible mark on the garage rock subgenre.  If raw, garage-based noises are your bag, take some advice: even though their music is more blues-rooted than some of the more raggedy stuff here, you’d be much better off checking out the debut by The Dead Exs instead…

May 2011