Forget about confining Jennifer Herrema's latest batch of songs to one sound, it would seem they can't even be confined to one band. In the wake of RTX's "disbandment," Black Bananas has emerged with the exact same personnel as RTX, but a handful of new ideas. These ideas are grounded in Herrema's warped interpretation of classic rock -- classic because of her 20 plus years making music as much as the band's stadium ready hooks. Her first band, Royal Trux, were already flirting with hair metal in the 80s and 90s. They crafted songs like "Now You Know I'm Ready," packed with raunchy riffs and simplistic sing-alongs that would sound right at home in a parking lot keg party outside a Def Leppard show. In the 2000s, RTX turned that flirtation into a steady relationship that produced three head-banging soundtracks for those in search of rad times.
If you compare RTX's/Black Bananas' output to that of other "classic rock" bands, Rad Times Xpress IV would be the group's second decade experimental album. Sure, Black Bananas still flaunt plenty of riffs from the cock rock time capsule, but some of IV's most intriguing moments are better suited for the dance floor than the arena tour. In between retro rockers like "TV Trouble" and "Killer Weed," Herrema & Co. dabble with vocoders on "RTX Gogo," auto-tune on "Night Walker," and even a siren on "Do It." On top of club ready beats, Black Bananas' audio eccentricities add layers of personality that the band never expressed in their RTX days. The album's twists and turns make for a bizarre trip, and parts of that trip can be downright disorienting. But Rad Times Xpress IV is a lot of fun if you take it for what it is -- a fresh take on a classic.