Buzz- Steady Rise: An island sound without the tequila

buzz-downbeat2No Jimmy Buffet here! Local roots rock quintet plays island beats with emotional, not "5 o'clock somewhere" appeal.

Emotionally, local roots pop-rock quintet The Downbeat Project really meant it when naming their debut album Rise. From the album's first track, the theme of hope permeates both the lyrical and musical content.

"What inspires us is transcendence," says mandocello player Zachary Blatter (who plays under the moniker Zachary Orchard). "It translates into our music."

The title may also capture the band's growth, as the past three years have seen them grow a fanbase through frequent performances with crowded dance floors. Although they're known for their lush grooves and tropical flair –- far more Kingston than Magaritaville–- they dug a little deeper for the album.

Frontman Clarence Green calls "Strange as Love" the band's favorite track, and reportedly wrote it by scribbling in a notebook while living out of the back of his father's truck. Then there's "Back Home," which is inspired by the warfare in the Middle East; and politics meets personal when he writes about his late father's experience growing up amid segregation – "'He Lost Faith' is about my dad's experience in the military," says Green. "It's a song about him being able to die for his country, but not be able to go through the front door of the movie theater. He taught me that there is hope, and that's a thing people can relate to."

Hey, there it is again. And that's precisely why Rise puts you on a sun-drenched Jamaica beach and right at home, all at the same time.

Downbeat Project releases Rise on Saturday, May 1 at The Southern. Os Magrelos opens and the party moves to Random Row Books after the show. Doors open at 8pm and tickets cost $8.