For the sheer creative energy, this album from Michigan based The Striped Bananas is one to take on at full the volume. The variation in mood and subject matter is huge, but all the while – these cascading guitar riffs and deeply thoughtful lyrics emerge by means of a stylishly structured and expressive collection of songs.
The room you’re in takes on the energy of the music, and right the way through, from the mesmerising mania of opener The Sun and The Moon, to the curtain closing, elegantly crafted The Trip, the project feels like a loyal yet unpredictable classic. You can rely on the creative set up of these songs to soothe your anxiety with psychedelic authenticity, and at the same time, you can completely lose yourself in the swirling, beautiful chaos of the music.
Sister Brittany offers a fairly mellow bit of songwriting that lulls you into a deep sense of calm. It furthers that feeling of being at the mercy of the music, lost in the sound, the beautiful chorus of voices, yet completely trusting the whole thing’s ability to keep you entertained. Swirling Colors (In My Mind) continues the thought provoking, atmospheric energy of the opener, and is actually an intense and compelling few minutes of music – the first of many moments that bare listening to a few times over.
Heaven and Hell has a smooth vibe and an addictive rhythm, later unfolding to reveal a captivating solo section; never simply smashing out notes to fill a space, always offering some unique and relevant addition to the story. The vocal parts here have a slightly haunting ambiance, the questioning nature of the lyrics adds to this, and as the intensity of the music rises towards the end of the piece, it’s as if these manic and wild waters are rising all around you. The vibe set by Ghost World follows on from this pretty perfectly, continuing that haunting yet somehow hopeful energy, all at once calming and concerning you. Every track has its own sense of expression, but arrangement is important – it’s worth pointing out the effectiveness of this project’s song positioning. The journey has everything you might need to keep you satisfied and interested.
Drift On utilises the band’s use of vocal harmonies. The bass-line is laid almost bare, showcasing the brilliance of the playing and the warmth and energy it brings to the overall output. The lyrics offer a dreamlike and provocative story line, something in strong supply throughout Stone Of Madness. If at first the music takes you to new places – on second listen, the words and ideas invite you somewhere else entirely.
The band may occasionally remind you of certain acts from way back when, though it comes in waves. You can never tell where the style will direct itself next. There are times when The Beach Boys look to be a source of inspiration; Hold On is an apt example. Once again, the band offer an unusual fusion of the uplifting and the melancholy, drawing energy from indie rock yet holding nothing back when throwing in a dash of folk, a splash of genuine humanity, and an almighty wave of all that is The Striped Bananas.
Onward from here you get a bit of a blues or country rock moment with the title track of the project. The switch between the male and female vocals adds an interesting dynamic, bringing a little more drama to the band’s already compelling sense of story telling. Falling offers a fresh and superb bit of full throttle rock music, complete with high energy drums, free flowing guitar riffs, and a much less reverb soaked leading vocal that really adds a brief glimpse of intimacy and character through the audible intricacies of the voice.
Every song on this album presents its audience with a thoughtful and creatively free soundscape, always fully supported by unique perspectives and storytelling. Although the music has its sources of inspiration, this simply brings about a professional and skillful array of musicianship. Never is the content or the way in which the varying topics are approached reminiscent of another field of work. There’s something special about the band’s manner of composing and expressing, and the variety is immense.
The Battle of Antietam comes at a time in which its predecessor, She Walks With Me, felt very personal and emotionally relevant to the writer. In contrast, this penultimate song of the collection offers a wild-west-like story that holds you captive within its rhythmic verses and the simple yet sublime sense of melody offered from all corners of the music. As stated at the start, The Trip is an elegant and peaceful song that brings things to a close in a calming yet ever thought provoking manner. These guys are well worth keeping tabs on if you’re looking for impressive live shows around Michigan and beyond. Stone Of Madness is a must for fans of psychedelic rock and unique songwriting.