Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Aggrolites: "IV"

In keeping with my tradition of writing on topics that very few people will be interested in, I decided after buying a new record the other day to write a short review for it. 

For some people, myself included, the best years for Reggae music followed right after the Ska and Rocksteady era in Jamaica from 1969 to 1974.  The next best thing, of course, are those bands that make Reggae music that is in the spirit of those early years—bands like the Aggrolites. 

When you listen to an Aggrolites album, you are listening to the product of years of studying Jamaican music, and it shows. Also very clear in the Aggrolites sound is their love for early American Soul and R&B.  Take these influences and add the Aggrolites characteristic grit and rawness, and you have what they call “dirty Reggae.”  It’s soulful, it’s raw, its sincere, and most of all, it grooves.

However, all style aside, the fact is the Aggrolites are fantastic song writers. The Aggrolites new album “IV” is 21 tracks of great song writing.  If you like classy melodies and classy lyrics, you will like most of these songs.  The song writing on the album is most reminiscent of the early American Soul tradition. Like the kind of lyrics that came out of Motown, they are not very cerebral, but there is a classiness and a charm to them that gives them a timeless appeal. Also, the melodies are distinctly not modern. While they are original, there is also something familiar about them. “Precious and Few” and “Ever Want to Try” are good examples of this. 

In addition, “IV” also displays a divers showing of moods and grooves. Songs like “Fire Cracker” and “Wild Time” carry the energy of an old James Brown tune, while “Tonight” and “It’s Gonna Be Okay” carry the vocal smoothness of the great Jamaican singing trios like the Heptones and the Pioneers.

All and all this album 21 tracks of solid music.  While I wouldn’t say that there was one stand out track on the album, my favorites are the smoother songs: “Tear that falls”, “Precious and Few”, and “It’s Gonna Be Okay” are definitely my favorites.

Another great song on the album is “Feelin’ Alright.” If one song epitomizes the album, it’s this song. The song tells the story of the band, including the fairly recent loss of their former bassist, the late and great Dave Fuentes (also the former bassist for Hepcat).  In the song Jesse Wagner (singer) asks the question “Whatever happened to feel good music?”  If you ask me, there is still such a thing as “feel good music” and you can find it in the Aggrolites. 

P.S. Incidentally, I have a new Reggae song of my own up on my myspace page if you are interested called "I would." It's dedicated to my little family.

1 comment:

James said...

I'm hoping to get this for Father's Day. I dropped a not-so-subtle hint last week. By the way, who's missing on the cover photo? Doesn't it seem kind of weird to only show four members of a five-man band?