Often, the catchiest tracks are found and played on repeat, until the rest of the album is slowly integrated into the listening cycle, at which point- if the CD is good- the listener begins to fall in love with the entire body of work.
And sometimes you have the pleasure of love at first listen. This is the rare occasion in which you pop on a new album and are instantly captivated, effortlessly jamming out to the entire record while excitedly IMing your friends, “this is the best CD ever!” (OK, maybe I’m the only one who does that last part.)
The latter can be said about the new album from The Alchemystics, “Spread Hope.”
The 17-track LP comes in at a little over an hour- that’s 70 minutes of pure reggae awesomeness. In all fairness, part of my ease in listening to this record is that these dudes have been touring this material around for years, so I was already familiar with some of the tracks. I was also shocked to realize that, while in 2008 the band released both an EP and a live album, “Spread Hope” was their first full-length studio release, serving as a platform for old school fan-favorites and new material (which I’m sure will also become fan-favorites).
To provide a little background on The Alchemystics- they’re a 6-piece reggae band from Western Massachusetts (represent!). Formed in 2003, the group has made quite the name for themselves in the Northeast and on the festival circuit.
According to the group’s latest bio, “Their high-energy, fiercely danceable live shows, have gained the band a passionately loyal multi-cultural, multi-generational following throughout New England, and beyond.” Having discovered the band several years ago at Wormtown Festival, I can certainly attest to what a captivating live band they are, with an equally captivated audience. To put it plainly- these guys kick ass.
Because I truly enjoy “Spread Hope” from start to finish, it would make for much too long an article if I were to gush about each individual song. So, here’s a breakdown of some of my favoritest favorite tracks:
Type of Prayer – This is the album opener, and while it hasn’t appeared on any previous Alchemystics recordings, it’s recently become a live staple of the band. This song is a great way to begin the album because it has the perfect blend of Ian-I’s smooth and pleasant vocals, Ras Jahn’s raspy cries, and Force’s eloquent rap flows.
Summer Life – Hands down favorite track on the album. This is the going to be the band’s summer anthem, mostly because of lyrics from Force like, “Mostly mai-tais, margaritas, hefeweizens / so refreshing, at festivals blowin’ hippies’ minds.” (I didn’t think it was even possible to rhyme “hefeweizen” with “mind.”) It should also be noted that I’ve listened to this song upwards of 30 times since I first heard it. Release this as a single!!!
Shine I – Formerly known as “Shine Eye Girl,” this is one of the band’s most popular songs, and a big crowd-pleaser at their live show. It was great to hear this track on a full-length album- it’s such a fun, upbeat number that tells the story of a dude trying to win over a girl he’s had the hots for since high school. And just when I thought I had memorized all the words, Force went ahead and threw a new verse in.
Dedication – The name of this song says it all. It’s a true 2 ½ minute dedication in which the band rhymes their thank yous to all of the family, fans and friends that have supported them throughout the years. From a fan perspective, I couldn’t help but get a little giddy when Strangecreek and Wormtown got shoutouts- my two favorite festivals of the summer, and the venues where I heard the Alchemystics for the first time. The band knows where their loyalties lie.
We Can Overcome – This is the second-to-last song on the album, and serves as an uplifting finish to the entire body of work. Ian-I and Ras Jahn use their melodic vocals to reassure the listener that, through positive change, we can truly overcome anything. It’s a really good, rhythmic song that you can just sway back and forth to until it gently peters out around the 5-minute mark.
While I could go on all day about how much I enjoy The Alchemystics and their album, “Spread Hope,” you should do yourself a favor and check them out for yourself. They will be one of the headlining bands at this weekend’s Strange Creek Music Festival, where they will have their new album available for purchase. Check them out, pick it up, and say hello. And thank me later.
CLICK HERE for more info on The Alchemystics, including tour dates, news, and some free downloads.