First off, there's going to be a lot of ground to cover here, even with only seven songs to review. The Banana Split is a three-way split EP between New Jersey bands: What's Fluffy?, Noot, and All Real Numbers. When you first hear the three bands, it might seem odd that they decided to do a release together. There's the indie-pop of What's Fluffy?, the acoustic non-whiney-emo of Noot, and the lo-fi, progressive All Real Numbers. For the sake of fairness, I'm going to look at each section of the EP separately, so we'll start with...
What's Fluffy? reminds me an awful lot of the early days of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. They've got the added benefit of a saxophone player that allows them to explore genres like ska at times. Their first track, of two, "Beach Whales" is a really fast song that I didn't really want to end. It fit right into my mental space as I listened. It's all strummy guitars and a curiously chaotic drumbeat. "Stoopid,” their second track, features their sax player and the melody he plays in the intro is absolutely perfect. It isn't true ska by definition, but it pays homage to it well.
Noot takes up the middle half of the EP and breaks things up nicely. Actually a solo act, the only member of Noot is songwriter Jeffrey Tabankin. His sound is very reminiscent of the emo that made up a good chunk of the scene in 2005 while maintaining his own style. It's wonderfully lo-fi and reminds you of a songwriter slaving over his work alone in a room. Noot's songs aren't simply whiney songs sung over an acoustic guitar. He doesn't whine and the songs feature some beautiful ornamentation, glockenspiels and clicking fingers.
The EP concludes with All Real Numbers, a progressive rock band from Livingston, NJ. To be completely honest, I don't have a lot of experience with progressive music beyond the likes of Rush and Coheed & Cambria so I don't have a lot to compare All Real Numbers to. "Retrograde" is a really groovy song that features a well executed wah-wah pedal and math-rock breakdown. One would expect such a lo-fi release to be poorly played but these guys definitely know what they're doing. I'm reminded of late-60's/early 70's rock with "The Leaf Pattern", a quick instrumental jam. Controlled chaos is the defining characteristic of the final track, "Well This Is Awkward..." It changes time signature with what seems to be every single beat.
In the end, this is a very interesting EP to listen to. It feels a bit more like a sampler of local talent than something that was deliberately put together, but it's still a fun listen and a great introduction to these bands.
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