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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

RTX's Jennifer Herrema peels back Rad Times with Black Bananas

Jennifer Herrema is a hidden persuader of sorts; a junk-culture icon that has wielded a profound influence on underground culture since the late ’80s, but in ways that are too raw for polite society to embrace. She’s no stranger to mass marketing, though: After posing for a series of Calvin Klein billboards and television commercials in the early ’90s, she literally became the face of heroin chic. But the image being portrayed in those ads was merely a caricature of Herrema’s true essence. As an early proponent of Drag City and Domino Records, and one-half of the Chicago-based noise rock duo Royal Trux, Herrema crafted what, aesthetically speaking, became some of the sleaziest, and most jarring sounds of the low-fi era with such impenetrable early Royal Trux albums as Twin Infinitives, Cats & Dogs, and the group’s true guitar skronking opus, Thank You. Royal Trux were the grotesque Ying to the ironic slackerdom of the ’90s Yang, and although her work hasn’t always been a particularly easy listen, her existence as an artist/musician still resonates throughout a body of work that’s built upon her very distinct sense of mutant swagger and hedonism.

On any number of her albums, from such later incarnations as RTX, to with her latest offering, Rad Times Xpress IV, or with her renamed group, Black Bananas, she harangues lazy miasma and her naturally junkie-cool creep with an experimental haze that piques all of the senses. Revel in the electro-tinged aural filth of such Black Bananas’ songs as “Foxy Playground,” “Nightwalker,” “Acid Song,” and “Hot Stupid” — you may want to take a shower when you’re done, but over time, Herrema’s damaged power ballads have only reached deeper into her own psyche to churn-up sass and melody, and once these songs get stuck in your head, there’s no shaking them.

Black Bananas play 529 tonight (Tues., May 15) with Magik Markers, and Dwarr. $10. 9 p.m. 529, 529 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-228-6769.

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