Review Summary: Modern reggae revivalists ring true to their roots while putting a slight new Millennium spin on top.
It is not uncommon for modern bands to mimic the sounds and styles of the past, attempting to recreate or rejuvenate a theme that had already come and gone in the historical timeline of music. Whether this is as honouring a homage as there is, or rather a play at cashing in on the ideas of others, the practice has been met with chaotically varying levels of success. It is somewhere within this space that California’s The Aggrolites
have carved their niche amongst a reggae resurgence. The self-titled sophomore offering from this band is undoubtedly riddled with throwback qualities – at a lot of times this band really sounds like a classic reggae act. However, there is something unmistakably fresh about The Aggrolites
overall approach to their music.
The disc opens with Funky Fire
, a track that sets the tempo for the records soundscape immediately. Genuine is a good word to describe this track, along with the rest of the record. Even the flow of the disc is reminiscent of classic rock/reggae era records, giving it something seemingly capable of carrying the listener to another place – even if for only for the length of a few tracks here and there. From the opener on, The Aggrolites
do not stop for a breather. The consistency of the music is actually pretty staggering, considering the bands successful conjuring of a thirty-year-old musical spirit. It’s difficult to do a track-by-track for this one, as the album feels a lot stronger as a whole unit, and I find these tracks fading into each other so well I barely notice at points. Time to Get Tough
, Country Man Fiddle
and Work To Do
are all pretty strong album standouts, which are countered by instrumental tracks in Thunder Fist
and Death at Ten Paces
. Other strong instrumentals like The Volcano
and vocalised Heavier Than Lead
help to close out the first half of this album, and perhaps despite the length of the tracks, there feels like there is enough here for an album itself.
What can’t be stressed enough is how well The Aggrolites
do what they do. The music is incredibly tight, laid back, and completely true to reggae’s original intended spirit. There is an overall feel of rebirth without sacrificing the roots of the music on this album that can only be understand upon listen. Though most of the instrumentals scattered throughout the album possess similar qualities, there is something about the catchy, laid back swing of Sound of a Bomb Shell
that seems to propel it above its brethren. There couldn’t be a better track to start this half of the record (though there is no actual halfway point on the album) and it seems to lend some of its sound to Fury Now
, 5 Deadly Venoms
and Grave Digger
- the last two being fellow instrumentals. The consistency of the record can come off as repetitious for those not completely enjoying the experience and seems to be the most common criticism it’s given. I find the flow of the album to work to the music’s advantage, rather than create a boring backdrop for some reggae tunes. Perhaps the only downside I can find in the album is the addition of more than enough instrumental tracks (which can often sound the same); it’s nice that there are 19 tracks offered up on the record, but the question of necessity can be asked. Whether or not these tracks should have been included or not aside, after a few spins it’s hard to imagine the album without them. Closing strongly with the upbeat Love Isn’t Love
, droning yet infectious Sound By the Pound
instrumental and soulful Lightning & Thunder
, the finale culminates to one final reggae blowout. A.G.G.R.O.
pretty much sums up the record and while wrapping up provides some thought into the possibilities for the next Aggrolite release. The band’s true representation of reggae music is admirable in a modern age of music re-creationists, and a testament to their musicianship and knowledge of the genre.