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Late to the Party Again: Spiritual Rez with Setting In The West

I didn't come out of the womb with my love for reggae and ska. It was something I fell into in the 90's like a lot of other people in my age bracket. I was in high school and I was introduced to Reel Big Fish, The Pietasters, The Slackers. Stubborn All Stars. I mixed it in with my love of punk, industrial, and 60's folk and rock and 80's new wave. I have always been all over the map in what lights me up. There was something about ska and reggae though that was just different. It became part of my blood. Even still, it took another 15 years for me to really delve into it deeply, finding it's roots and pioneers and learning their messages and individual sounds. I am still learning. There is so much. So many off shoots and sounds to be found. There are scene crossovers. There are fringe bands. There are sounds I still have not really heard!

That doesn't mean my ears have always been open. I have been pretty honest in previous pieces this year about how closed minded I had been to a lot of great music.That being said though, I love being taken by surprise. I love being wrong about music and coming out the other side of my tunnel vision with a new respect and a whole new sound to love. Music is fucking amazing. The ska-reggae-rocksteady scene has been very good to me. They have shown me love, loyalty, and unity among bands big and small and that is such a beautiful thing. I still wore my blinders though for a long time. I married a jam guy and it opened my eyes to a lot of bands and a lot of sounds that I didn't know were out there.

Not long ago, we were coming back from somewhere with my phone plugged into my car speakers. He asked me if I had ever listened to a band called Spiritual Rez. No, I said. I honestly expected a jam band to come out of the speakers when he pulled them up on my phone. I didn't expect reggae. Now, my husband and I have been saying for a long time that we wish there were more jam/ska fusion shows and festivals happening. The crowds have no idea how much they have in common.

I'm a bit of a snob, and I admit it. I have been to festivals with my husband where he was playing. There were bands who proclaimed they were going to play some reggae, at which points my ears perked up...and the next thing I know, I was being treated to a cover of Santeria by Sublime. Disappointed, I would walk back to where the beer was. This is not a knock to Sublime, their fans, or anyone who covers their songs. I was just under the impression that there was a lack of originality in the scene when it came to music from the scene that I was from. And I was fucking WRONG.

Enter Spiritual Rez into my world.

This is everything that kick started my love of ska and reggae, but it's got more. It's a wonderful blending of those traditional sounds with a vibe of modern alternative and jam. It's a very chill sound. It's a very clean sound. The vocals are fucking incredible.

I gave their 2016 album Setting in the West a taste. It's a groove explosion. I can see why these guys are big in the festival scene because they have that mellow dance sound, but there is more to it than just a groove. Individually as musicians, these guys are stellar. They are strong individually and that lends itself to a full, clean sounds with a really modern groove.

As I said, the vocals are on point, inventive and soulful. The words are infectious and hopeful. The bass lines are funky and blended so well into the mix, but tasty enough that they stand alone. The horns are clean and so well placed. The drums are perfectly matched with the bass lines and lead the groove without being overdone. There are well placed and perfectly accenting keys. The thing is though that these guys have a formula that sets them apart from a lot of other bands. It's very well mixed and it makes me really want to see them live and get the full experience.

The songs are just GOOD. Well written and fun while still telling you something. The groove is so smooth. I want to grab a six pack of really good beer and sit in the sun with these guys playing without a worry in the world. You can escape into this sound. It takes you somewhere. It's got a strong primary reggae feel but it blends it with a very modern alt-rock feel that really does set it apart. At the same time, I am hearing the 90's ska feels that pulled me in way back when and I love that. I think that is what I love so much about this band. They have all these concepts and sounds thrown together in a blender for this perfect sound. I love how all of these components are woven together.

Suggested listening from the album: Surface Tension - I love the vocals on this song. It starts out quiet and soft but ups that soul and tempo for something just dancey enough to get your booty moving. Sober - This has that infectious groove. Its so good. This is that mellow, sunshine backyard with a cold one sound that I cannot wait to hear live. This is probably my favorite song on the album. The horns on this are fab. I listen to this song a LOT. Together Always - This song is sweet as hell. The smooth groove, the lyrics, the vocals, I run out of words trying to praise this band. Nothing I am coming up with is sufficient.

These guys are great. Amanda was late to the party again. Spiritual Rez is my new obsession. They sound like sunshine. They sound like high volume in the speakers with the windows down. They put forth an incredible sound that is not so easy to tag and label, and I love that. Give them a listen. You can find them here:


  1. Awesome way to capture in words one of my FAVORITE bands of all time!

  2. Thanks so much! I try to speak honestly about music that catches me in hopes that I can get someone else to give it a listen! It's all about the share! Music should be shared!


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