ALBUM REVIEW: The Aggrolites – Reggae Now! (Pirates Press Records)
Formed in 2002 in Los Angeles, The Aggrolites were initially the live backing band for reggae icon Derrick Morgan.
They were also asked to record music for his new album, and although it was never released, the sessions inspired the members to stay together and become a permanent band.
Their sound blends combines 60s soul, funk and skinhead into what the band describe as ‘dirty reggae’.
That was the name of their debut album, which came out in 2003, and they’ve since earned a good reputation on the scene, touring with Madness and working with Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong, among other things.
After an initial burst of activity which saw them release four albums in seven years, they seemed to have stalled after Rugged Road, which came out in 2011.
Three new songs – Aggro Reggae Party, Help Man and Western Taipan – were released on Bandcamp in 2015, and that one-off recording session was the spark that led to this album, their sixth studio effort.
All three of those songs have been re-recorded for this record, their first for Pirates Press Records, which was written and recorded throughout 2018, and finds the band right back on form.
Singer Jesse Wagner notes that it’s “simple, two-chord reggae, feel-good music”, and he’s spot on, as most of these tunes wouldn’t sound out of place if they had come out of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 60s or 70s..
Songs like Pound For Pound, People Win and Invasion could sit comfortably on a compilation of Trojan classics, they’re so old school.
There’s also a smattering of fine instrumentals such as Jack Pot, Shadow Walk and 15 or 50, which add to the vintage flavour of the album. No less a reggae icon than Don Letts says the band’s old-school analog sound “totally captures the spirit of the music I grew up on”. Who are we to argue? 8/10.