Money in the Banana Stand: Giant Steps II

Giant Steps II, Money in the Banana StandMoney in the Banana Stand: Giant Steps II
Any Arrested Development fan will tell you this one simple fact: There is ALWAYS money in the banana stand. Literally. Much like the television show from which their name was derived, the sophomore effort from Money in the Banana Stand is a spectacular work which has flown under the radar of the general public.
Their brand of punk with abrasive vocals and self-deprecating lyrics certainly are not for the faint of heart. Giant Steps II begins on an upbeat note with the opening track, “Drink Deep,” which hammers listeners with hard-driving riffs and erratic guitar work. The song comes across as the bastard child of the Replacements, with vocal emotion reminiscent of Paul Westerberg, and Dinosaur Jr. with its unapologetically gritty guitar work. The next track, “Lifestyles,” contains lyrics that tend to leave the listener somewhat unsettled.
The album really hits its stride on the song “Lately” which is a reflective work that is quite simply an ode to a life unlived. When vocalist Steve Brown laments how it is easier to be alone, his voice tells the tale of a man who truly believes that sentiment. While this track is perhaps the peak of the album, it never slows, only changes style to keep us hooked. “Korean Radio Blues” is an upbeat pop-punk piece with haunting vocals and a big backbeat. The next track, the interestingly named “A Political Song for Justin Bieber to Sing” begins slowly but picks up in a big way after a somewhat dragged out intro. This song yet again shows powerful and well-crafted guitar work while still holding on to the very essence of punk rock. For every peak, there is a valley. This valley comes in the form of the song “The Red League.” While the track does not detract from the album as a whole, its lyrics are too verbose and unfitting, while the vocals simply do not match the guitar riffs that stand out like a sore thumb.
Fear not, for redemption follows, with the albums best track, “Psychiatrist.” The song is a perfect fit to close out a passionate album filled with passive aggression and self-examination. The track opens with scathing vocals and powerful lyrics. While some would challenge the screaming vocals, they are a necessity for the track, as it explores emotional highs and lows. The shuffling beat that the song utilizes is a trademark of punk rock, and is used perfectly in this setting. While the album is filled with hard-hitting guitar riffs and commanding strums which echo the sentiments of the lyrics, the final track contains the albums greatest guitar solo, one which adds to an already stellar effort.
Giant Steps II is an exceptional album in the context of modern punk rock, combining the proponents of both past and present bands who have helped to define the genre. While the album itself is book-ended by two spectacular tracks, don’t be fooled into thinking the songs that lie in the middle are any less extraordinary, they are merely outshined by the accomplishments of the opening and closing tracks.
Rating: 7.9/10
MP3: Money in the Banana Stand “Psychiatrist”
Buy: iTunes