Banquets – This Is Our Concern, Dude (7″)
Apparently Banquets are named for a brand of beer, so I was going to open with a predictable joke about pissweak American lager. However, it turns out that the parent company of Coors (who make Coors Original, aka. “the Banquet Beer”) are also responsible for mid-range beers like Grolsch here in the UK. They’re also responsible for Reef. The dangers of brand association, Banquets!
Fortunately these guys play some cool and goddamn tight anthemic punk rock. On my first few listens I liked what I was hearing – though what I was hearing didn’t seem unique enough to remain particularly memorable. Yet the four songs presented here have grown on me, and I think this is an EP that every so often I will happen across, remember, stick on again and enjoy.
It’s a shame that this sounds like damning with faint praise, because Banquets clearly know what they’re doing – their musicianship is faultless, their songs are well-written, their vocalist has excellent range and control, and their lyrics strike a chord with me. And yet, and yet, it just feels like there’s something missing. Perhaps I just expected a little more from an EP where every component is right? Something more than the sum of its parts?
Anyway, top tune here is ‘Eleanor, I Need a Garden’ – a really catchy number with some cool gang vocals from the rest of the band, and a satisfying pinch harmonic to boot. ‘What a Bunch of Aaron Burrs’ is built around tight, speedy guitar work and features the lyric “When you awake, it’s morning / And you’ll be 28 alone”, which if you add a hangover will describe my birthday in about a month. I’m touched!
Another interesting lyric pops up in ‘Lyndon B. Magic Johnson’ which opens the EP: “I should have more bitter within me / I just need more hurt to heal.” The song itself is a solid, pacey number, in contrast to the final track, ‘I Wish I Was a Little More Lou Diamond’, which cuts the tempo for a slower-building number with some faintly haunting gang vocals.
There’s a lot of neat references in this EP’s song titles (as well as its Lebowski-referencing name and the band’s beer-homage moniker); I’ve just gone and read about Lou Diamond, an old-school US marine from the early 20th century who sounds like kind of a badass – in an awesome, irreverent kind of way. The references are US-centric so I can’t say how recognisable they’d all be over there, or if like me they’d have to go away and look them up… still, it’s a nice touch and a different spin on the usual nostalgia you see from melodic punk bands. (Funnily enough I read about Aaron Burr several days ago – he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Politics used to be so visceral!)
So, this is an EP that I feel is well worth a listen, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for future releases from the band – whilst hoping that they bring their A-game instead of an exceedingly polished B-game. And then I’ll feel less guilty for being harsh on a band I rather like.