Everything about Jennifer Herrema is a middle finger to the world, from her blasé, cigarette-exacerbated snarl to early Royal Trux to RTX's offhand '70s-rock/ metal/noise pastiche. So why would we spend good money/time to watch/hear a well-trod rock-and-roll exercise that could just as well be executed by the better bar bands of the world? Because there's always been an undeniable spark in anything Herrema does, and legend and spectacle loom over that spark like buckets of gasoline. We want to see someone who's got ties all the way back to (the end of) Pussy Galore and who spent much of the time since making a living as a total fuck-up. (Herrema and Royal Trux gadfly Neil Hagerty allegedly once spent an entire advance from Drag City on smack then turned around and asked for another to finish the record.)
After Royal Trux split in 2001, Hagerty went off the weird end with Howling Hex (recommended listening: "Catalytic Convert" off 2003's Introducing the Howling Hex) and solo work, and Herrema returned to the course four years later in the form of RTX and its '70s T-top rock with an extra helping of disarray. All of which brings us to Herrema's latest fuck you, Black Bananas (named after a growling, roughneck rock 'n' roll chunk from RTX's RaTX). Black Bananas sport the exact same lineup as RTX and sink the gas pedal on their debut full-length, Rad Times Xpress IV, leaving musical styles splattered all over the windshield, but only because the band just barely clipped them.
"TV Trouble" floats on a sunstroked miasma of far-out sounds and effects gathered over a thick guitar boogie. The dominant riff from "Hot Stupid" sounds like a direct Ted Nugent outtake. Then there's the languid funk of "RTX Go-Go" and the chintzy, scratchy electro vibe of "Do It." But for all its tinkering, Rad Times still finds its center in classic guitar riffage, and there's something intriguing about the production's disorienting, multilayered cacophony—like witnessing a bad acid trip at full boil while you're on a good one. Fans of the attitude that's defined Herrema's career thus far won't find much but a new flavor of it to chew on with Black Bananas, but that's likely all they'll need.