Banned Books are a band hailing from the Philadelphia/ South Jersey area. I saw their record “Mission Creep” in AKA Music one day, and didn’t really have the money to buy it, so I just kept their name in mind til I got home. I ended up buying the album online, and I’m glad I did. These guys mainly play a crazy sprawling mess of heavy blues rock driven guitar, but then there are times on the album when you’re just thinking, “What is going on here?” They completely change things up and never give you a chance to see what’s coming next. I think that’s why I like them too much, too. It’s the element of surprise that can make music so interesting sometimes, and these guys use it to their advantage. One song will be completely guitar driven (Mission Creep), and then they’ll go into a dancy, electronic jam like “Anti-Anthem”. Definitely worth hearing.
The album starts off on the opening track “The Alarm”, and I think this one serves nothing more than being an opening track. It’s a near-instrumental start to the album, and it more-or-less gives you a sense of what the rest of the album could be like, although you’re probably still not entirely sure what’s going to come later on. This is just the magical pathway that leads you to the rest of the madness that is “Mission Creep”.
Following up would be the self-titled “Mission Creep”, and this is when you’ll first see what Banned Books are all about. Heavily distorted blues rock influenced guitars take control of this one, and they don’t really let go until the song is over. They pause for a bit about 3/4 of the way through to give us a chance to catch our breath, and then they go at it again for the last 40 seconds. Because that track took on a more guitar driven sound, this next one is going to catch you off guard. It’s a crazy fast paced song dominated by lots of little sound effects like hand claps, tambourines, squeeks, and whatever else you think you hear. Singer Zane Kanevsky whispers at points in the song, giving it an almost creepy feel, all while the use of the restrained guitar and keyboard guide us through. Suddenly the next track “Wilderness Area” starts out of nowhere, and now we’re back in familiar territory…at least for now. The bluesy guitars come back for the start of this one, being much more in line with the song “Mission Creep” we heard earlier. For the last half though, they take a step back on the intensity and lazily ride out the rest of the song (It’s parts like this that make me think why this album had a “FFO: Animal Collective…etc” sticker on the front).
Skipping ahead to the fun track “Summer Death Camp”, this one again features some heavy guitar. Lead singer Zane Kanevsky sings about “roasted marshmellows and cyanide”…interesting! I want to go to summer death camp! It sounds like a blast, right? This song changes completely about halfway through though, so don’t get too excited about death camp. I’m not even sure what to say about that second half; it sounds like breaking glass and like the world as we know it is crashing down right beneath our feet. Suddenly summer death camp doesn’t sound like much fun anymore! But it’s okay, because the next song “Anti-Anthem” can make you happy again.
Every time I think this album can’t get any more different, it does. This song starts off like it’s coming completely out of left field with it’s icy, shimmering sound effects and dancy, fast paced drum beat. The last half of the song, (whether Banned Books like it or not) , turns into a hell of an anthem with singer Zane Kanevsky wailing “This is not the voice of your generation/ You’re just another overnight sensation,” over the mix. They use minimal guitar in this one as this is definitely a song of its own on this record. Fantastic stuff right here. The album ends on the oddly named “Black Knot of Plum or Cherry”, and again this one starts out completely different than any other song from the album. I’m not too sure I agree with this song in regards to everything else we just heard on the album, but still worth hearing and even worth buying (they only pressed 300 copies of “Mission Creep”)! Definitely looking forward to hearing new stuff from these guys as well, it should be interesting. Follow the link at the bottom if you wish to buy the LP, and be sure to check out the songs I have for you below, I think you’re going to like them.
Mission Creep –
Wilderness Area –
Summer Death Camp –
My Rating: 8/10
Genre/ Tags: Blues Rock, Experimental, Electronic
Mission Creep: Tracklist:
1.) The Alarm
2.) Mission Creep
3.) Supernatural Mongoloid
4.) Wilderness Area
5.) Trophy Wife Sings the Devil’s Fanfare
6.) Summer Death Camp
8.) Black Knot of Plum or Cherry