Album Review: Black Bananas, 'Electric Brick Wall'

Jennifer Herrema's underground rock star bona fides go deep. Often stylized like Janis Joplin in furs and aviators, Calvin Klein's original heroin-chic model interviewed Keith Richards, hung out with Timothy Leary and in the early '90s signed a million-dollar deal with Virgin as part of her first band, Royal Trux. Following its dissolution in 2000, Herrema, now 47, formed hair-metal heavies RTX, and then reincarnated the same lineup over a decade later as sleaze-rock trio Black Bananas. The latter's 2012 debut, "Rad Times Xpress IV," both dismantled and reinforced the rock history Herrema was a part of.

"Electric Brick Wall," the sophomore set of the alt-rock demigoddess' latest outfit, draws from the same "Some Girls"-inspired forge that twisted predecessors like "Acid Song" into a blistering fusion of metal, funk and '70s classic rock, seen through a cloud of weed smoke. Futuristic and familiar at once, it resists classification: Electro-psych excursion "Eve's Child" could pass for MGMT, while "Physical Emotions" bounces like Parliament over cosmic sine waves, dirty synth bass and Herrema's Jagger-indebted vocal strut, mangled by robotic effects. Nearly half-spastic guitar solo "Highway Down" whiplashes over a down-and-dirty blues riff, and "Bullshit and Lies" closes the album with the slow, heavy crunch of a stoned garbage compactor.

"Wall" both settles into and busts open the weirdo groove Black Bananas established with "Rad Times," smashing genres to once again create its own remarkably coherent mishmash. You could say it's growing comfortable, but Herrema's too unpredictable to let that happen.


THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.