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Album review | Noisy neighbors

Spiritual Rez, ‘Apocalypse Whenever’

Spiritual Rez

This record is filled to the brim — with bubbling ska rhythms, throbbing horn breaks, and the occasional hard-rock guitar solo. At its heart, the band’s potent mix of reggae and rock elements is a true melting pot, united by a cohesive knack for bounce.

Described as a concept album about contemporary times, this at one level is a series of alternative visions of impending doom. In the (bad) dreamy “Bring It On,” the album’s title is revealed not as not a whiff of slacker ennui but the nihilistic invitation of a paranoid gun-hoarder. But the cosmic joke is a good one — it turns out “The Rapture!” is an enlivening, New Orleans-styled rave-up. The apocalypse? It has a good beat, and you can dance to it.

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Even if you can feel the Boston-based band grasping for the ring here, overreach is rarely apparent. The heavier rock of the proletarian blues “Worker Bee” overstays its welcome, but elsewhere the heavier tendencies of lead guitarist Rob O’Block are integrated into the mix. Vocalist Toft Willingham gets as down-and-soulful as he can, though he’s still looking for a style that transcends his influences. But with “Don’t Be Afraid,” he delivers an anthem that’s destined to be the soundtrack to somebody’s endless summer. If the world keeps turning, that is.

Essential: “Don’t Be Afraid”

Spiritual Rez plays the Sinclair on April 12.

Jeremy D. Goodwin can be reached at jeremy@jeremydgoodwin.com.
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