Jennifer Herrema, formerly of the Royal Trux and RTX, now performs in the Black Bananas. Across her various bands, Herrema has always liked it crunchy and punchy. Almost everything on Rad Times Xpress IV comes on big and loud, from the song titles — “Earthquake,” “Killer Weed,” “Rad Times,” and “Hot Stupid” – on down to the barrage of distorted guitars and hammering drums that drive most tracks.
Herrema and co. are all thick riffs and swagger. “My House” contains 70s arena blues, yelps, girl problems, and staggering guitar propulsion that sounds like a roaring airplane engine. “Killer Weed” takes a sludgy riff in a different direction, cool as a cucumber — “What you looking for, baby I ain’t got the time.” The Bananas occasionally change up the tempo and feel, shifting away from the “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” approach. “Acid Song” starts with a cloud of distortion, but this gives way in front of a definite groove, with the stew of guitars arranging themselves into more of an even pulse. The guitars also get a little more room to breathe and a little more space to fill, so it’s easier to appreciate the weaving lines, and the lyrics are almost sweet – a refrain of “Just know I’ve got your back babe” carries the end of the song. “Hot Stupid” shows a barely perceptible funkiness peeking out from underneath all the fuzz, and “Rad Times” has a touch of 80s pop production in its rhythm section. The aesthetic of Rad Times Xpress IV is probably captured best by “Do It,” on which the Bananas declare in true rock and roll fashion, “I do what I want.” What they want is forward momentum, volume, guitars, and attitude.