The Black Bananas
Rad Times Express IV
The Black Bananas are like a torrent: a bunch of seemingly unrelated bits + pieces whose end product is wildly impressive, though inexplicable. The band's history is just as complex, and -- frankly -- too confusing to get too deeply into. Here's the Spark Notes version: Royal Trux morphed into RTX (Rad Times Express) which gave birth to The Black Bananas whose debut record is called Rad Times Express IV. Jennifer Herrema is the common denominator that holds the equation in place, and her mastery has never sounded fresher.
Everything got thrown into the blender on this one, making it simultaneously the most schizophrenic, genre-less record I've heard in years. Robotic voices and computer blips rub up against '70s disco beats ("Acid Song"). Computers are king with loops and samples layering up, around, and behind prog rock guitar riffs like Peaches being backed by Yes ("Hot Stupid," "Do It"). If there was an app that could create the audio equivalent of the 1980s (yes, the whole decade) throwing up into a ghetto blaster, "RTX Gogo" may just be that song -- and I mean that in the best way. "My House" sounds like 21st Century Def Leppard, and "Foxy Playground" is crazy, sexy funk with a mean beat.
Needless to say, this album is not going to grab everyone, but one song that might is "Rad Times." If ever there's an easy-to-grasp single here, it's this one, dabbling in funk, pop, arena rock, electro, and kitchen sink computer effects without burying the melody too deeply. It's the first song that grabs me, and still my "go-to" track.
The Black Bananas' journey through music history BLAST wraps up with the Joan Jett-meets-Motorhead celebration of all things green, "Killer Weed."