Sunday 24 January 2016

Banquet - Jupiter Rose (Album Review)

Release date: February 26 2016. Label: Heavy Psych Sounds. Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

Jupiter Rose – Tracklisting

1. Mastermind 4:04
2. Sword Of Damocles 4:20
3. Run To You 3:32
4. Set Me Free 4:39
5. Burning Bridges 6:25
6. Touching The Grave 4:46
7. Jupiter Rose 5:12

Band Members:

Doug Stuckey - Guitars / Vocals
Brandon Chester – Guitars
Eric "Don Cheeto" Kang – Bass
Damon Lockaby – Drums


Imagine Radio Moscow, Kadavar and The Shrine jamming together, then imagine it all through acid-psych tinged lenses and you have a good hint at what type of waters that Banquet treads. On Jupiter Rose we are greeted to a sonical feast serving up a top-shelf fuzzy 70’s retro psych rock meal able to satisfy the most hungry stoner rocker in the field. The quartet from San Francisco, California slings course after course of tasty tunes at the listener and the band seems eager to showcase their merits. A signature sound comprised of heavy distorted bass lines that comes through the mix nice and clear generating a vibrant moving current together with fast paced and intelligent played out drumming overlaid with frantic guitar shredding and way above average vocals.

The tempo is high with an almost punky feel on most of the tracks and packed to the rim with blistering guitar flares pointing in all directions leaving blatant comparisons to Hendrix-like outbursts apparent. On several occasions the stellar interplay and sheer quality of the band members musical skills resembles a more stringent version of fellow psych-rockers in San Diego based JOY that despite the ability to discern the individual instruments in fact manage to appear as a well-oiled amalgamated unity.

First up is Mastermind and the song itself lives up to its grandiloquent title. It is a brilliant way to start the festivity. A super-short drum-in and we are off on a thrilling ride on the retro rock highway. This song just rips with killer vocals, great guitar leads, gorgeous grooves and a watertight rhythm-section that proves Banquet are here to rock your socks off.

Sword Of Damocles’ (how cool is that song title?) show some very cool dynamics where punky virtues are mixed with slower psychedelic parts resulting in a very compelling song structure keeping everything alive and the listener on the edge of the stool eager to experience what’s behind the next neck-breaking shift in the song.

Third track also appeared on the band’s 7” released last year and one of the reasons I was drawn towards this young but ever so talented band in the first place. ‘Run To You’ is the closest you come to a danceable psych-rock song, it’s such an alluring beat and groove that makes it almost impossible to not jump up and start moving. ‘Set Me Free’ is more psych stoner goodness from the top-drawer of the old retro-rock rack.

On the fifth track, ‘Burning Bridges’ we see Banquet slow down for the first time and that suits them well to leave the listener with a little more breathing space in this way also giving a chance to let the impressions from the first four faster paced songs imbed into the cerebral memory. ‘Burning Bridges’ is a slower mellower track with a cool build-up that is first unleashed after nearly halfway through the song. The last part also consists of some quite impressive drumming with lots of sweet breaks and fills, and at points I am reminded of early At The Drive-In (also due to the vocal duties), which in my book is nothing short of magnificent.

With ‘Touching The Grave’ it’s again full throttle and the songs races over hedge and ditch in a frantic pace as if the sole purpose was to outrun a gigantic solar ray of psychedelic sonic flares and perhaps they succeeded in that quest as the songs sinks into a slower paced ending that works very well.

In spite of the often-intense tempo, the songs on Jupiter Rose are in a stronghold and at no point appears chaotic or unorganized. This is a crown achievement, as quite a few bands tend to trespass the thin line between well-orchestrated organic improvisations and unstructured and strenuous musical excursions without destination. Banquet keeps their path straight and narrow, never meandering into navel-gazing narcissism and in doing so comes out on the other side with some of the freshest and genuinely entertaining musical psych I have laid my ears upon lately.

Final track, title track, is a shimmering psych-rock pearl with perhaps the best vocal performances on the entire album and the track is a true earworm with a catchy melody running through the entire song bearing witness that Banquet are more than capable of writing a good ballad. With Jupiter Rose we get the feel of old matured quality wine on shining new bottles and I for one do not mind another sip of the delicious drink at their musical banquet. Watch out for the vinyl dropping on Heavy Psych Sounds in March, as this is a release you don’t want to miss.

Words by Niels Fuzz Bartholdy

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo. Jupiter Rose will be available to buy on CD/DD from February 26th 2016 via Heavy Psych Sounds. Vinyl will be released in March 2016.