Neil Michael Hagerty leads The Howling Hex back out into the sunshine for the first time since The Best of the Howling Hex back in 2013. Since then, they have refocused on the immediate pleasures found within the writing and playing of a single song. This direction, explored in a pair of limited-edition singles released over the past two years, reaches a populist zenith on the new album, Denver, in which an entire community and geographic region are tapped for their energy, the celebratory pulses of which feed the new music of Neil Michael Hagerty and The Howling Hex. To achieve this effect in the ultimately democratic conception of The Howling Hex’s New Border Sound, Neil cranked up his guitar-playing to dominant levels that recall his playing in Pussy Galore and Royal Trux. Coupled with the beats, and at times requiring different inflections from the beat, Neil’s howling guitar sounds elevate the music of Denver to an ecstatic communal expression, the likes of which will no doubt massage pleasure centers in the make-up of modern popular music listeners. The deeply principled, forward-facing manner of The Howling Hex is of course based in the now-ancient ways of rock and roll alchemy—the modding-up of ethnic idioms from regional traditional American sounds and the refitting of those rhythms with expressions of new youth, reckless within the contemporary lifestyle. A system exists for the proliferation of this music; in part, that is why it is made—to be disseminated and to exist among the numerous other varieties; an option for the so-inclined. It is music for use, and when combined with the high-energy reflections of the city life and mountain scene that emanates from Denver, this gives The Howling Hex their most powerful, accessible iteration, massively accelerated by the all-out gnarl of Neil Hagerty’s classic rock guitar variations.