Punk. Funk. Rock. Soul. The main ingredients in a potent witch's brew that the Bellrays have been mixing for a long time now. Returning with their first full new album since the release of Black Lightning in 2010, Punk Funk Rock Soul Vol. 2 follows the release of Vol. 1, the four-track taster EP released in 2017 as an appetizer for the main feast. If music is food for the soul, then the Bellrays are Thanksgiving and they know how to cook. The Bellrays strip down to the meat of what music means to them. Growing up in SoCal, they thrived on radio channels that broadcast more than once one kind of music. It was a party. Punk Funk Rock Soul is their party with their songs and friends.
"We take our ear where our heart lives in simple song writing, making ourselves and hopefully all who hear it feel good," explains singer Lisa Kekaula. "We are proud of its simplicity and love how the new songs sound like old friends. This release is a collection of songs that illustrates why we do what we do. We are not 20 year olds and that's okay. We are proud of our mileage and journey and Punk Funk Rock Soul validates our comfort in what music means to us. Viability, trend and meaning are up to the eye of the beholder...we like to rock."
With each song, the BellRays play with the formula. The dynamics shift and change from straight ahead rockers like "Bad Reaction" "Junior High" and "Never Let a Woman" to more rock/pop songs like "I Can't Hide" and "Brand New Day." "Man Enough" features tornado drumming and Caravanesque guitar solos. How do you make the dark sound light? Listen to "Perfect," which is heavy while singing about finding that rhythm together. "Now" spreads out with a simple melody and message of being in the moment. "Every Chance I Get" gets to the blues with its plaintive resolution to use time as wisely as possible. "Love and Hard Times" closes the album with an easy, R&B tinged lyric reminiscent of Levon Helm and The Band.
Throughout Punk Funk Rock Soul, Vol. 2, The BellRays slide from song to song, changing the dynamics but not the dynamism. In the studio or on stage, the BellRays equals energy.