Home Valley Advocate New albums from Spiritual Rez and Rebecca Joy

New albums from Spiritual Rez and Rebecca Joy



 Spiritual Rez Setting in the West Self-released

People love reggae songs for the same reason people hate reggae songs: every slow, delirious second laid down is in service to the beat. Everyone from Bob Marley on down has brought flair, trippy switch-ups, and instrumental variety to their tunes, but the response from non-fans is predictable: it all still sounds the same. If anyone can shoot a cannonball through that stereotype, it’s Spiritual Rez, the brass-powered, dance-party reggae band from Boston. The eclectic sextet released their fourth studio album this past fall with producer Kenny Carkeet, a founding member of the electronic pop rock band AWOLNATION. That contemporary gloss shines bright on these newest tracks, a margarita-sweet collection of beach jams that smash the feel-good rays of Jimmy Buffett, George Clinton, and Steel Pulse — all of whom these guys have shared stages with — up against the truisms of old-school reggae and radio-friendly pop. Some listeners and concertgoers will find Spiritual Rez too cloying and cute in large doses, but for a night of dancing — or a long afternoon drive in the fresh air — it’s hard not to bop your head to these oversized beats.

Spiritual Rez plays Gateway City Arts in Holyoke on Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.


Rebecca Joy Eponymous EP Self-released

If I had taken class with Rebecca Joy Francione, my childhood would surely have involved more eyeliner. The Easthampton singer-songwriter (and former school teacher) makes dark acoustic folk music that conjures a smooth and relaxing mood even as it quivers with a touch of strangeness. Her four-song EP, engineered and produced by Jeremy Mendicino (founder of the Boston experimental pop band Pretty and Nice) makes for a warm and bewitching 22-minute set that opens up into black blossoms of song that feel feverish, melancholic, and hopeful. Even better: they steer clear of the slack, sullen impulses that all too often drain the energy and fun from goth-rock projects. Her lyrics are rather haunting — in “Folded Coves,” she sings of how “the sea, she knows/ to return the morning after…/ All’s afloat ‘til she sinks your boat/ in a single pitch of laughter…/ Light that shows all the silver droves/ in their secret coral rafters/ swam away when the light of day/ could no longer be their master” — but the cool joy that pulses in these stormy ballads suggests that the light at the end of our tunnels isn’t always as interesting as the dark magic we encounter midway through.

Rebecca Joy’s music is available to stream and download on Bandcamp.