DetailsSacramento DIY veterans The Bananas chart some new sonic territory for their unique brand of snotty craziness on their album, Nautical Rock N Roll. A metaphor for the band's new "nautical" sound could be expressed by the picture of the two frolicking mosasaurs on the back cover. Just as these sea-monsters were somewhat more specialized and evolved than their land-based reptilian precursor, NRNR is a bit more graceful and slick than their previous releases on Plan-it-X: 1998’s Forbidden Fruit and 2001’s A Slippery Subject.
Don’t worry, though, the Bananas are still as toothy, grotesque, and yes, even as cute and silly as before. The added sophistication just allows them to rock out harder than before.
The variously nasal, whiny and yelly vocals, jazzy chordwork, and infectious choruses are still part of the trademark Bananas sound.
Their new bassist, Marie D., adds some new buoyancy to the bottom registers– plus, the improvement in sound quality over their previous releases means you can really hear it. The lyrics are also more refined: less about the drunken heartbreak in favor of some timely social commentary ("American Eyes") and post-apocalyptic-inspirationals ("Another Ominous Warning about the End of the World"). The latter track shows them capable of the same conscious stance as some of their more "political" label mates (This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, The Devil is Electric), while still rocking like the glorious, rabid sock puppets they are.
Something about this band reminds me of Sesame Street, or those great expressive moments of childhood– like when you rocked out in some delirious spastic tantrum and wrapped yourself in the curtains and scream-sang at the top of your lungs. This is music some of you lamer punks would half to invent a new and even more retardedly half-assed academic subgenre to describe.
Melodic-Snot-Punk? Drunken-Happy-Core? I would venture to simply call it rock and roll, stripped of its pretensions, and so heartfelt and earnest that you can't keep fucking still, and worse yet can't help singing along to it– even if you don't know the words. Just get it.