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The Striped Bananas: “Cosmic Carnival” – between the strands of pure fantasy and the lucid lights of imagination

The Striped Bananas are a 3 piece psychedelic group, currently located in Baltimore, Maryland, and made up of members Duncan Shepard– (Vocals, Guitars, Sitar, Organ, Bass and Theremin), Chantelle Lussier– (Vocals, Keyboards, Piano and Percussion) and Andrew Lowden– (Vocals, Drums and Percussion). The group formed in 2010 amidst a void of psychedelic representation on the East Coast of the United States. They have recently released their third album, entitled “Cosmic Carnival” which contains 10 tracks.

Somewhere between the strands of pure fantasy and the lucid luminous lights of imagination, in a colorful semi-conscious state is where “Cosmic Carnival” resides. But first, I think you have to look at this band from the start. Duncan Shepard, the leader and main contributor of this band, set out on a direction in music that was totally unheard of in the pop arena a couple of years back. Duncan’s creativity together with those of Chantelle and Andrew, has taken amazing leaps, bringing us their previously critically acclaimed albums and an EP.

The cover artwork
The cover artwork

We now come to “Cosmic Carnival” and what it all means. Never has there been such a perfect marriage of smooth psychedelic-rock confection with gliding velvety harmonies. But this time, The Striped Bananas are through with their purely eclectic excursions of trying to make a point about what they do. This time, they geared the music in such a way that everybody could understand it; wisely imbedding subliminal messages within the surrealistic, psychedelic stream of consciousness that weaves its way throughout this amazing album.

All songs are delightfully listenable. But, as pleasant as it is, The Striped Bananas ask very pertinent questions and pose hard-edged situations that they asks you to consider. Thematically, we tread the spectrum of all things that run through the human psyche. And, as a true Seer, I detect some spirituality as well. These are just a few reasons why “Cosmic Carnival” is so monumental. It takes an imaginative and astute listener to get all of, but eventually you will.

Of course we have the common love dilemma in Girl You Got Me Feeling Alright and the spiritual questions in Reaching For Love. But The Striped Bananas goes deeper in other songs. In Feel It Now and Life Goes On  they travel into metaphysical terrain – not only that – they reveal succinct aspects of confrontation, as in Bad Hand Mackenzie and his descent into madness, as well as  The Carnival, where they sing:

“Cosmic carnival is where we meet
We spend all day there traveling through space
It’s time to face the world
everything swirls around this world” 

The Striped Bananas
The Striped Bananas

It is this ability to peer into the common denominator that makes these songs so rich.

The passages and changes in this music are a marvel – and so very addicting. There are light moments, dark moments, unbalanced moments, it’s all covered. I can’t listen to a single song without anticipating the song that comes next. The band is tight, the lyrics trippy and somewhat poetic as The Striped Bananas contemplate the world around them, including a cover of the 1961 Del Shannon mega-hit, “Runaway”.

“Cosmic Carnival” is recommendable to anyone interested in psychedelic rock, but especially those with authentic late 60s leanings. If you’ve never heard The Striped Bananas before, you’re in for a treat!

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