Review & Full Album Stream: Banquet, Jupiter Rose

banquet jupiter rose

[Note: Click play above to stream Banquet’s Jupiter Rose in full. Album is out Feb. 26 on Heavy Psych Sounds.]

After a debut single on Who Can You Trust? Records and gigs alongside such regional luminaries as Radio Moscow, Joy, Golden Void, Beastmaker, Mondo Drag and Wild Eyes, San Francisco double-guitar four-piece Banquet step forward to take their place in the perpetually expanding West Coast heavy rock pantheon with Jupiter Rose, their debut album. Released via Heavy Psych Sounds and comprising seven tracks for a manageable 33-minute listen, it’s an unpretentious roll out of heavy vibes, deep running grooves and New Millennium Analog sensibilities, the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Doug Stuckey, guitarist Brandon Chester, bassist Eric “Don Cheeto” Kang and drummer Damon Lockaby finding their place in organic tonality — Kang‘s bass is especially satisfying throughout, perhaps most notably on centerpiece “Set Me Free” — and classic mindset.

They are of their region and of their coast, certainly, but find identity in the winding turns of “Touching the Grave,” the hooks of opener “Mastermind” and “Run to You” and the side B slowdowns on “Burning Bridges” and “Jupiter Rose” itself, the title-track providing an expansive culmination despite not actually being the longest song on the record — that’s “Burning Bridges” over the six-minute mark — to build on the raucous momentum, neo-shredding lead work and rhythmic swing displayed all along with a summary of the entire outing’s scope in a single track. Fluid changes in the bass and drums and deft interplay between rhythm and lead guitars — and, in the case of “Jupiter Rose,” between leads — mean the album should have little trouble making its case to those already ingrained in the driving methods of the Bay Area as well as to those less immediately familiar with the context in which the album arrives. It has charm, in other words. Charm goes a long way.

It’s an upbeat beginning that “Mastermind” offers, but it demonstrates clearly that the band (1.) can write a hook and (2.) have clearly worked to build a live dynamic. The studio recording isn’t rough or overly vintage sounding, but Banquet are obviously versed at least in the West Coast’s ’70s fetishism if not that which has exploded in Europe over the last decade or so. That coherent aesthetic, in combination with the songwriting and the confidence in their delivery, makes the material their own. Second cut “Sword of Damocles” storms outward on a torrent of guitar and punctuating snare — giving the nod a definitive downward point — but manages not to get lost in its own turns and winds up in a calmer, bass-driven midsection, vaguely psychedelic, but more shroom than acid, earthier thanks to that low end, and subtly progressive as it builds to a head and moves back to the frenetic terrain from whence it came, even more emboldened by the ground it has covered.


Dual guitars begin “Run to You,” which is an immediate identifying characteristic, but in Stuckey‘s vocal cadence and the down-the-stairs bounce but unrelenting swing of its rhythm, the track is more purely indebted to Radio Moscow, which is nothing to hold against it, especially in the context of the album as a whole, whether it’s “Sword of Damocles” before or “Set Me Free” which follows with a more NWOBHM guitar charge. Melded to the ’70s vibes, it’s a decidedly proto-metallic vibe, but Banquet avoid what has become the heavy ’10s cliche of sounding like Graveyard or Kadavar as keys join the guitar on a jog in the solo, and a sudden slowdown into interplay of scorching lead and Sabbath groove only makes that vibe more palpable. Doesn’t hurt. “Set Me Free” may or may not be where the vinyl side breaks, but either way, its ending sets up some of the thickness the final three tracks have on offer and makes a fitting centerpiece in encapsulating much of what works best on Banquet‘s debut.

Much of the extra runtime in “Burning Bridges” (6:24) as opposed to a song like “Set Me Free” or “Run to You” could be chalked up to its two-minute marching intro of tom thuds and melancholy soloing, but that stretch is crucial to setting the tone for the rest of Jupiter Rose, which will hit its emotional and sonic crescendo in its finale, but is nonetheless bolstered by what “Burning Bridges” accomplishes before it. The song takes off following its intro, and, with standout performances from Lockaby and Kang — who are the not-so-secret weapons holding together the outwardly impressive guitar work here — it never relinquishes the energy it builds. That’s all the better for “Touching the Grave,” which calls back to “Sword of Damocles” with its structure, departing the shuffle past the midpoint in favor of more serene vibes. Banquet make that change smoothly, which only further highlights their chemistry.

They don’t quite bring “Touching the Grave” all the way back, but that only makes the transition into the immediate Skynyrdery of the guitar work in “Jupiter Rose” more fluid. Tempos shift, parts come and go, but the chorus remains prevalent and though they seem for a moment like they’re going to depart the verse/chorus trades in the midsection and gallop off to jammy oblivion, the song holds together and hits a crashing, everybody-on-the-same-page finish that makes the entire record preceding seem all the more purposeful. Whatever elements it might share with California’s heavy rock revival, Banquet‘s first LP does well in establishing a place for itself in that crowded scene, elbowing its way into the consciousness with scathing, fingers-on-fire solos and a rhythm section to match. I’ll be interested to see if they slow down or speed up next time, go prog, trip out, revel in good times or get moodier overall, but the fact that they seem equally likely to do any of these things should speak volumes in terms of the potential they make so plain across the span of Jupiter Rose.

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2 Responses to “Review & Full Album Stream: Banquet, Jupiter Rose

  1. trevor church says:

    you got our name wrong. BEASTMAKER !! thanks haha

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