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The Residents have grown to be more accessible and esoteric 

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Hardy Fox, the mysterious “spokesman” for San Francisco’s anonymous art-band The Residents, died from brain cancer complications in late October, just as the collective was approaching its 45th anniversary. It would be easy to say that the band had become commercial and predictable, rarely approaching their early 1980s heyday. But since session musician Eric Drew Feldman (Captain Beefheart, Pere Ubu, PJ Harvey) took on a public shepherding role, The Residents have grown simultaneously more accessible and more esoteric. Their 2017-18 live shows earned zealous accolades for musical and theatrical innovation.

Concurrent with Fox’s death, The Residents released their 46th (!) studio album Intruders (MVD/Cherry Red), featuring a surprisingly explicit narrative warning about the doppelgängers who can take over our lives. Vocal assistance from publicly acknowledged singers Laurie Hall and Peter Whitehead allows the band to approach rock normalcy, while retaining an edge of otherworldly weirdness.

Feldman already proved that the band could be both political and obtuse when it released 2017’s The Ghost of Hope, an analysis of infamous train wrecks. Next year will see the arrival of The Residents’ long-awaited blues takedown, Dyin’ Dog.

While the loss of Fox may mean the band will never return to its eerie “You Yes-yesyes” days, with the help of Feldman and other less-than-anonymous friends, The Residents may well stick around to shock and confuse through a 50th anniversary and beyond.

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