Steve Recommends: “Hey Banana” by BNQT

another band name with no vowels — but this one is good!

Most supergroup projects are disappointing and uninspired. That’s just a strange statistical reality. But thankfully there are exceptions and BNQT is one of them. BNQT (pronounced: Banquet — I know the whole leaving out the vowels band title thing is so over baked at this point) is essentially the band Midlake, with guest vocalists getting a chance to co-write and sing on two songs each. Jason Lytle of Granddaddy, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferndinand, Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, and Fran Healy of Travis.

It’s the sort of musical experiment that could go horribly wrong, but I think what keeps it all unified while still stretching to fit the talents of the various singer-songwriters, is the loose but rock steady foundation that the musicians of Midlake provide. They’re like the funk-brothers of the alternative aughts circuit.

It would be so easy to pick a Jason Lytle song here. His two contributions, “Failing at Feeling” and “100 Million Miles” are gorgeous, sweeping, and epic— either would be highlights on any Granddaddy album. But the song that stands out for me on an album loaded with standouts, is the Alex Kapranos-led, “Hey Banana.”

It’s silly, a bit creepy, and exudes just the right amount of late 60s psychedelic menace. Kapranos gives the song his best Jim Morrison impression, and the strings and horns that build and round out the choruses elevate an entertaining goof into something more complex, more fully formed. It somehow comes of as both disturbing and oddly sweet.

The prerecorded voices near the end — a child and a woman both whispering, “Hi Banana. How you doing banana? I love you banana!” is perfectly odd and so fitting for a song this catchy and lyrically inappropriate. I mean they are saying the same thing Kapranos croons in the song’s first verse, but from the kid and woman it sounds less pervy.

And the chorus is downright threatening, especially in the context of so many needy bananas.

So stop what you’re doing
You gotta stop what you’re doing
If you don’t get down
I’m gonna knock you down
I don’t wanna have to do that
But I’ll knock you down

No need for psychoanalysis on this one. Just enjoy it and dance along in your PJ and slippers. The perfect song for a cold winter evening.

(Song recommendation by Steve Goldberg)

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