I have a hard time wrapping my head around ‘The Striped Bananas.’ Their mix of folk, pop, and rock reminds me of absolutely none of those genres. There seems to be an underlying current of comedy, yet the lyrics show us nothing in the way of specific messages. Your left puzzled, but enthralled. Who are these people and why do I like their rough around the edges pop-rock so damn much?
For what it is worth, the mystery resolved with immediacy. The Striped Bananas is Duncan Shepard with vocals and guitars, Chantelle Lussier with vocals, keyboards, and the thick and muddy bass, and Andrew Lowden on the kit.
‘Mind Desert’ chimes in with this swampy guitar lick and echoing drum rhythm that attracts with a hypnotizing energy. ‘Into Your Eyes’ stands out as a weird classic rock ode, using the group’s tendency to vocal harmonize for full effect. ‘Brain Waves’ plays on the group’s obvious 60’s psychedelic leanings most effectively, for what sounds like an exquisite acid rock song right out of the era.
The songs on their debut self-titled album smack you and leave you confused. Before they even have a chance to make a real impression, the track is already over- done- moved on to smack you with a different tonal change. The songs never overstay their welcome, like acid prog rock can so easily do. This works in the band’s favor, melding their obviously niche approach to a more contemporary understanding that because people live longer yet have more to do and say and think, they don’t really have 3+ minutes to listen to anything not immediately familiar. Hell, they barely have two.
Yet, it is not as if the smacks hurt. Sure, they leave a red mark, and your friend will ask you why you look so tired and smacked around, but you’ll just smile. Like King Crimson’s ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ or Iron Butterfly’s bloated yet masterful album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida- it’s somehow totally worth it, and always will be.
I am extremely fortunate to have landed in with ‘The Striped Bananas.’ Many haven’t. It is the par for life. Their debut album is just a wicked tour-de-force of weirdly produced and weirdly arranged pop gems. They are rough around the edges, and might prick your finger, but the rawness is in the charm. The drums hit hard, abrasively smacking down any sort of pre-perception of pop smoothness. Shepard’s vocals are essentially unmixed and hauntingly odd. The Striped Bananas have more to offer than the vast majority of bands because of their inherent ability to be weird, friendly, and awesome in every course of their image.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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