Courtesy of the artist
Led by Royal Trux's Jennifer Herrema, Black Bananas' gleefully stuffed "Rad Times" dares to overwhelm.
Led by Royal Trux's Jennifer Herrema, Black Bananas' gleefully stuffed "Rad Times" dares to overwhelm. Courtesy of the artist
Song: "Rad Times"
Artist: Black Bananas
CD: Rad Times Xpress IV
The mutated arena rock of Black Bananas' Rad Times Xpress IV doesn't feel out of place in the present day, where recycling and reconsideration of the past occurs all too often. But among the independent artists giving new contexts to old sounds and styles, singer Jennifer Herrema is in the unusual spot of being an originator, as well. The haphazard junkie-rock of her former band Royal Trux inspired many followers, all the way up the line to MGMT.
Royal Trux often volleyed between accessibility and experimentation: Its earliest records were influenced by the melodies of '60s garage rock, but when stripped down or forced through unusual filters, the duo's music sounded disjointed and perplexing. By the time Royal Trux signed to a major label years later, it was sounding more affable and of its time. It didn't match the success of peers such as Sonic Youth, so Royal Trux returned to the margins of sound, putting out a few more offbeat records before disbanding in 2001.
Black Bananas' music is far removed from Herrema's former band, but as "Rad Times" shows, she hasn't abandoned her knack for recycling. The new group's abundant sound might even overwhelm those who attempt to follow the hooky keyboard melody through a barrage of neon clutter. Stuffed into a little more than three minutes are echo effects, pronounced drum machines, frilly guitar solos and a background chant that wouldn't sound out of place on an ancient infomercial: "The future! The future!" While the words celebrate the big and brash party that is the Information Age, the thick, messy sound of "Rad Times" suggests that maybe it's all becoming a bit much.