Sometime last year I had the wonderful opportunity to review the full length Top Button, Bottom Shelf from NJ's Banquets. I mentioned in that review how there are times when a record will grab me, as a listener, and really make me want to hear more. That record was absolutely one of those rare treats that I was referring to and I stand by that statement even today. It was a fantastic representation of what this band had to offer. Rock solid songwriting, a passionate vocal performance, honest lyricism and stellar playing. To this day... I still put that record on in my car, roll down my windows and just drive until my voice is hoarse from singing along. Their newest full length, Banquets, is destined to be not only in the same league... but a perfect companion piece to Top Button, Bottom Shelf.

By no means is Banquets breaking new ground with this release. What they are doing is taking their spin on both classic melodic punk rock and poppy indie rock in a more mature direction. In the realm of reviewing music, the word "mature" or "maturing" can be quite cliche. Bands can take a hard left turn stylistically and get slapped with the label "mature" when all they did was abandon what got them to where they were to begin with. That is absolutely not the case with Banquets. This release is very obviously cut from the same cloth as their previous material... but the growth as both musicians and songwriters is undeniable. Still present is their foundation in pop punk, but seeping through the cracks more so than ever are the rock elements. Being a huge fan of more rock leaning melodic punk bands like Samiam and The Gaslight Anthem, this is a very welcome point of growth for me.

The bottom line is that Banquets are about to release one of the best records in the genre of the year. These ten songs are brimming with passion and character... and if you're looking for a great record to crank in your car with the windows down, you've found it.

Banquets Banquets will be out on 5/7 via Black Numbers and Disconnect Disconnect.