Local album review: DEEP, DELICIOUS SECRET SURPRISE, by Jupiter Holiday

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comNovember 1, 2013 

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What the — ? Boise jam band Jupiter Holiday has been traversing galaxies of improvisational hippie-dance music and psychedelic rock since 2005 without releasing anything beyond a modest EP. Why a full-length album after all these years? And gigs?

No matter. The biggest “surprise” — the one, unlike the album title, that doesn’t evoke a Domino’s Pizza marketing campaign — is that this studio adventure was worth the wait. Equal parts instrumental vision quest and well-rehearsed groove marathon, it’s the best jam-band album released in Idaho in recent memory. Actually, probably ever. (Can you think of ANY jam-band album ever released in Idaho? Those festival brownies have taken their toll on your memory, dude.)

Pulling from the quirky style of song crafting championed by Chicago prog-jam force Umphrey’s McGee, Jupiter Holiday rolls through 8-, 9-, even 11-minute tunes that are heavy on repetitive riffs and winding-road guitar detours.

Sounding noodley without also sounding sloppy takes practice. Guitarist Shaun Palmer’s concentration is obvious during bursts of hammer-ons and pull-offs. And while his solos aim to be stratospheric, they’re also laid-back — the kind that scrape clouds without ever causing actual storms, for better or for worse.

Easygoing vocalist-guitarist Michael Bassett’s singing exceeds the normally acceptable “not bad for a jam band” expectation. Better yet, he never sings when he shouldn’t. Fans of instrumental rock will find plenty to like just by listening to the rhythm section of Kreed Kleinkopf (bass) and Jason Grazian (drums) double clutching into eternity.

Granted, Jupiter Holiday’s influences are overt: The smell of the Umph and Phish saturates triumphant-sounding instrumentals such as “Gellenhall’s” with all the subtlety of spilled bong water. But these nine songs manage to meld into a pleasant, funky, 64-minute carpet ride. It’s like closing your eyes at an outdoor summer gig where the neon hula hoops keep spinning till 4 a.m. If the knock on jam bands is that they never capture that simple bliss on album, Jupiter Holiday runs rings around many of its peers.

Michael Deeds

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