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Aggrolites, The - The Aggrolites Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.5
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 8.25
Production 7.5
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 9.25
Reviewer Tilt 9.75
Final Verdict: 90%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.5
Musicianship 9.75
Lyrics 9.25
Production 9.5
Creativity 8.5
Lasting Value 9
Reviewer Tilt 9.75
Average: 93%
Inside AP.net

Aggrolites, The - The Aggrolites

Reviewed by: Brandon Allin (07/17/06)
The Aggrolites - The Aggrolites
Release Date: May 9, 2006
Record Label: Hellcat Records


It takes alot out of any act in this day and age to fit the phrase "reinventing the wheel", and while Southern California's Aggrolites aren't really "breaking new ground", they aren't exactly following a tried and tested formula, either. As a matter of fact, with their self-titled, sophomore release, The Aggrolites act as a much needed can of fuel for a somewhat fading flame, one reflecting a deep love for a fusion of rocksteady, ska, and early reggae music. The band's inspirations shine heavily throughout the 19 track monster's running time, and although one listener can never shake the impressions of earlier artists, the experience is enduring and compelling all the same.

Yet, while The Aggrolites seem to feed off of artists and bands alike whom have shone before them, they're consistent with their efforts in blending their own unique formula into the mix. The opening effort, "Funky Fire", for example, is a faultless instance in which the band uses the knowledge gained from performers much before their time, and bases the backbone of their composition on such work. However, while the music these five men praise above all others more often that not seemed to lack a missing piece of the puzzle, The Aggrolites do everything in their power (and fortunately, are successful time and time again) to bridge the gap, and fill the aperture with their own individual offerings. More specificially, lead vocalist/guitarist Jesse Wagner is at the top of his game, packing the punch of a fired-up reggae artist, yet surprising audiences with his significantly impressive lounge-esque vocal stylings.

But, while the albums first track was impressive enough to hook any listener, I often worry that band's will fail to present anything worthwhile once the opener has run its chorus. Thankfully, for both the band and listeners alike, The Aggrolites are an exception to this ever-increasing trend, as the remainder of the material is just as indulging, if not moreso than the first taste. On "Mr. Misery", the band presents one of the most infectious hooks this reviewer has ever heard, and I found myself instantly captivated. The gang vocals, which are found in a good majority of tracks on the record, bring the entire experience together, and more or less fill out the band's already jam-packed sound. But, Wagner's vocals and his added choir aren't all that are keeping this record on the right track, as you'll find that the band performs just as accurately and prove to sound equally as captivating on tracks where no vocals are featured at all. The record features a handful of stunningly arranged instrumentals, which can almost be taken as breathers between the sing-along gems the band pumps out every few minutes.

However, while it seems like I may have nothing but praise for this album, what is holding this release back from being categorized as a chart-topper? To be quite honest, there isn't much. The Aggrolites have done a wonderful job with their sophomore effort, and a pat on the back is surely in order. But, as early reggae music isn't exactly the most widely-accepted form of creation in the industries current state, I doubt The Aggrolites will be able to do much in terms of creating a revolution. Yet, it's evident that this isn't the bands aim from the first listen on, and a dictionary defintion of 'success' isn't exactly what they're after. Additionally, however, the album may appear as somewhat redundant at times to those unfamiliar with the history of the fused genres, as each track is based off similar melodies and creative patterns. In short, it's almost as if this record will prove to be a gem to those who are in search of what The Aggrolites are offering, but fail to reach a level any higher than "background music" in the hearts of those with a little less of an open mind.

So, in the end, how does the self-titled, follow-up effort from The Aggrolites fair? Well, I'll be honest. I went into this album with a pair of ears aching for a formula that every act in the world isn't practicing, and the product offered was an enormous breath of fresh air. I can now breathe a sigh of a relief that there's a successful, interesting, and beautiful alternative to what's coming at us through the airwaves. This is, without a doubt, one of the best reggae releases ever, so don't count yourself as surprised if you see this gem making its way into my Best of 2006 list. The vocals are phenomenal, the lyrics are inspiring, the music is simple, yet intricate, and the experience is worth every moment of your time.

For Fans OfThe Aggrolites, The Slackers, Westbound Train, and Desmond Dekker
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 28.
09:48 AM on 07/17/06
#2
Tony
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This album is amazing. My only gripe is that it's too long, because you CAN have too much of a good thing.
10:56 AM on 07/17/06
#3
smelltheglove
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nice review.

I like the album, but I have a few complaints. The 19 tracks is a bit much, especially when half of them are instrumentals and to be honest, most of the instruments arent very distinguishable from one another. They all sound mroe or less the same. in a live setting, i'd dig it, but on cd, it loses some of its instrumental appeal

the songs with vocals are great, but even they suffer the 'sound all the same' fate at some points.

but overall, how many bands are doing a style of music that reached its popularity height in the 60's in a country other than our own? and like hepcat and the slackers they do it well, just not quite as good as hepcat or the slackers. they need a bit more variety. the slackers have their rocksteady, their reggae, their acoustic, their swing, etc. so did hepcat. aggrolites seem to stick to one formula, other than 'funky fire' which is one of the few songs to not be more or less straight up rocksteady with some dub here and there

I like their singer, he reminds me of the pietasters dude a lot.

its just a bit long winded. 13 tracks, 9 vocal and 4 instrumental would have been a bit more balanced and then the standouts wouldnt be as bogged down by sound alike instrumentals surrounding the standout tracks.

mr. misery, countryman fiddle, funky fire, someday, love isnt love, and fury now all rule. I just wish they werent so blended together by the instrumentals. its nice background music though, especially if you're at the beach.
11:01 AM on 07/17/06
#4
Brandon Allin
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Originally Posted by smelltheglove
nice review.

I like the album, but I have a few complaints. The 19 tracks is a bit much, especially when half of them are instrumentals and to be honest, most of the instruments arent very distinguishable from one another. They all sound mroe or less the same. in a live setting, i'd dig it, but on cd, it loses some of its instrumental appeal

the songs with vocals are great, but even they suffer the 'sound all the same' fate at some points.

but overall, how many bands are doing a style of music that reached its popularity height in the 60's in a country other than our own? and like hepcat and the slackers they do it well, just not quite as good as hepcat or the slackers. they need a bit more variety. the slackers have their rocksteady, their reggae, their acoustic, their swing, etc. so did hepcat. aggrolites seem to stick to one formula, other than 'funky fire' which is one of the few songs to not be more or less straight up rocksteady with some dub here and there

I like their singer, he reminds me of the pietasters dude a lot.

its just a bit long winded. 13 tracks, 9 vocal and 4 instrumental would have been a bit more balanced and then the standouts wouldnt be as bogged down by sound alike instrumentals surrounding the standout tracks.

mr. misery, countryman fiddle, funky fire, someday, love isnt love, and fury now all rule. I just wish they werent so blended together by the instrumentals. its nice background music though, especially if you're at the beach.
It's odd, because your list of favourite tracks at the bottom of your response is exactly the same as mine. Great minds think alike. ;)
12:32 PM on 07/17/06
#5
ilovebsb
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great review. are we going to see a review of the latest rx-bandits cd any time soon?
12:57 PM on 07/17/06
#6
Brandon Allin
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Originally Posted by ilovebsb
great review. are we going to see a review of the latest rx-bandits cd any time soon?
Thank you.

As for the Bandits, I'm sure someone on staff will review it sooner than later, but it most likely won't be me. After Progress, I sort of lost interest in them. But, their releases haven't been bad, by any means.
02:14 PM on 07/17/06
#7
smelltheglove
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Originally Posted by Brandon Allin
Thank you.

As for the Bandits, I'm sure someone on staff will review it sooner than later, but it most likely won't be me. After Progress, I sort of lost interest in them. But, their releases haven't been bad, by any means.

same here. The Recapitulation wasn't a ska record and that bummed me out. Also, the heavily political lyrics were just too heavy handed (i know 'progress' was pretty socially conscious itself, but it wasnt as in your face). To me the recapitulation was a redefinition of their band, a reinvention, and while many love it and love it even more than their old stuff, I just loved their happier ska sound on Progress.
03:58 PM on 07/17/06
#8
GoodTimes
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why list the same band you just reviewed in the 'for fans of' section? that's like using the word you're defining in its definition. redundant and not very informative
06:19 PM on 07/17/06
#9
Brandon Allin
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Originally Posted by GoodTimes
why list the same band you just reviewed in the 'for fans of' section? that's like using the word you're defining in its definition. redundant and not very informative
No, it's not. That is meant to mean that if you are a fan of the band's older work, you will enjoy this release as well.
06:47 PM on 07/17/06
GoodTimes
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if it was a departure from their older work you would have noted that in the review, so yes, it is indeed redundant
06:58 PM on 07/17/06
Mitch
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Good review, I just bought the album off of iTunes because of it.
07:23 PM on 07/17/06
Brandon Allin
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Originally Posted by GoodTimes
if it was a departure from their older work you would have noted that in the review, so yes, it is indeed redundant
Call it redundant, if you must, but why not give readers who might not be up for running through a long review a quicker way to answer that question for themselves?

You sound bitter.
07:24 PM on 07/17/06
Brandon Allin
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Originally Posted by Mitch2742
Good review, I just bought the album off of iTunes because of it.
Wonderful.

Please let me know what you think of it.
04:24 AM on 07/18/06
GoodTimes
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you sound defensive. how come you invite critique but when you don't get the kind you want you dont handle it well?
12:38 PM on 07/18/06
Brandon Allin
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Originally Posted by GoodTimes
you sound defensive. how come you invite critique but when you don't get the kind you want you dont handle it well?
I'm all for people critique, as proved by my asking for it, but you're just being unnecessarily picky. But, you know what, I apologize for trying to make obtaining information as easy as possible for our readers. What was I thinking? ;)
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