Michael Franti and Spearhead All Rebel Rockers

Michael Franti and his Spearhead troupe are nothing if not consistent, and they return with another collection of politically uplifting, pop-inflected global rhythms on their latest disc, All Rebel Rockers. The slinky sounds of roots reggae play heavily here, owing to legendary guest producers Sly & Robbie, though that base is nearly always unnecessarily softened by the group’s insistence on maintaining a (rather annoying) pop rock tinge. The skankin’ dub vibe and minimalist vocal delivery of "All I Want Is You” offer an example of when things work best, and Franti carries both those good fortunes and the love theme through the subdued calypso of "I Got Love For You.” This singer’s trademark, folk-y "cold world” observations come to the fore on the acoustic guitar-led "Hey World” (version two), while kindred spirit Zap Mama slips in to help spread some soul on "High Low.” Aside from a few nauseous missteps at the outset, and with very few surprises, Franti and company keep right on keepin’ on. (Anti)