The Aggrolites - Reggae Hit L.A. (Cover Artwork)

The Aggrolites

The Aggrolites: Reggae Hit L.A.Reggae Hit L.A. (2007)
Hellcat Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: GlassPipeMurderGlassPipeMurder
(others by this writer | submit your own)

It's good to see reggae back with the punk crowd. Reggae, punk and ska have had a close relationship since the 1970s, but lately it seems that even ska-punk-bred American reggae bands like Slightly Stoopid and Pepper have been more in tune with the stoner/jam band scene than the followers of the Cla.
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It's good to see reggae back with the punk crowd. Reggae, punk and ska have had a close relationship since the 1970s, but lately it seems that even ska-punk-bred American reggae bands like Slightly Stoopid and Pepper have been more in tune with the stoner/jam band scene than the followers of the Clash, Bad Brains, and the Specials. And somewhere between acting as Tim Armstrong's back-up band for his debut solo A Poet's Life and touring the continent with Dropkick Murphys and Sick of It All, the Aggrolites managed to put together one of the most solid reggae records in recent years, and one that will put reggae back on the leather jackets of kids from Los Angeles to NYC.

The production on Reggae Hit L.A. is phenomenal. It appropriately shuns the clean, sparkly coating in favor of sounding rather raw and retro, like an old Stax '45 EP, and it's absolutely perfect for the Aggrolites. The band's blend of "dirty reggae," ska, funk, rocksteady, and rubadub soul is even more refined, more evenly distributed, and more fun than last year's self-titled Hellcat debut.

The band jumps from synth-led reggae in the album opener "Work It" to a lazy, horn-driven ska tune in "Let's Pack Our Bags" to a James Brown-like party song in the album's title track. "You Got 5" is a sunny instrumental whose mere vibe invokes images of palm trees and pristine ocean beaches, while "Baldhead Rooster" gives off an almost Indian flavor. The voice of lead vocalist Jesse Wagner is as soulful as ever, like on the funky "Well Runs Dry," which features Wagner's retro appeal mixed with Motown harmonies and light toasting.

The only area where Reggae Hit L.A. falls short of its zenith potential is a lack of substance on an album that is, by default, mostly a party record. Eight to ten of the fifteen songs on Reggae Hit L.A. are either entirely instrumental, or are very minimal in the lyrics department, like in the title track, whose lyrics are almost entirely made up of a repetitive group shout of "Reggae hit L.A.!" The lack of lyrics doesn't detract at all from the music on the record, but it's a shame to see so many great rhythms and instrumental melodies stand naked when they could be peppered with some substance, especially with Wagner's terrific vocal abilities. After all, great reggae songs like Desmond Dekker's "Israelites" and Jimmy Cliffs' "The Harder They Come" were fairly basic musically, but their message has never lost its strength, and they remain some of the immortal anthems from the genre.

Reggae Hit L.A. is a dazzling album from start to finish. The Aggrolites have carved out their niche in the music community and planted their flag in a hybrid territory made up of some of the most soulful music around, and in doing so have crafted the perfect summer album in Reggae Hit L.A..


People who liked this also liked:
Rancid - ... And Out Come The WolvesTim Armstrong - A Poet's LifeOperation Ivy - Operation Ivy [reissue]Bomb the Music Industry! - ScramblesAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyNOFX - Punk In DrublicTeenage Bottlerocket - They Came from the ShadowsStrike Anywhere - Iron FrontThe Aggrolites - IVThe Menzingers - Chamberlain Waits

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
rkl (June 8, 2007)

Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 2:33 AM (EDT)

how 'bout a review of the new toasters album?

ill submit in a few days :)

mclz (June 7, 2007)

i cant wait to get this
their other 2 releases are amazing

joeg (June 6, 2007)

this band has never let me down. another rock solid record from the aggrolites. love it.

Anonymous (June 6, 2007)

i totally wish slightly stoopid would lose the whole blues blue grass vibe, it is awful

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

Fantastic album! Go out and buy this if you are into reggae & rocksteady music. Aggrolites play a style of reggae popular in the late sixties/early seventies and add some "dirty" funk and soul grooves into the mix to make it their own "Dirty Reggae" sound. Best album so far of 2007! LOVE THIS!!!

Not-To-Regret (June 5, 2007)

I'm gonna try once again to like these guys, but their sound was too abrasive for me on previous albums. I like the idea of more instrumental songs... hopefully more polished, soothing dub-ish sounds like The Slackers.

Sorry fans, every new ska/reggae record will be held in comparison to the slackers, so the bar is set very high for me.

jt (June 5, 2007)

no one made a review of their first two albums.

brown (June 5, 2007)

I just got this today and it is fantastic. I haven't been able to give it the full onceover yet, but I'm really liking what I hear so far.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

"it seems that even ska-punk-bred American reggae bands like Slightly Stoopid and Pepper have been more in tune with the stoner/jam band scene than the followers of the Clash, Bad Brains, and the Specials"

Great comment/observation! I was at Mad Caddies/Pepper show and that's exactly how i felt.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

nice review. I love reggae music and plan on picking this up.

The s/t was a nice listen but lacked longevity in my cd player due to the over abundance of instrumentals. sounds like this suffers from the same problem but I'll pick it up regardless, they are competent musicians and remind of a cross between hepcat, the slackers and the pietasters, although i'll take any of those 3 bands over the aggrolites any day.

thansk for reviewing it.


GlassPipeMurder (June 5, 2007)

yeah it should have been "EP", gotta proof these better.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

Unless you're referring to an LP from 1945, in which case, that'd be really shitty production. (Previous post was me)

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

"45 LP"? Uhh, usually, 45's are EPs. The only 45RPM LPs I can think of are punk albums...so it'd probably just be an "LP" or a "45 EP".

baseball (June 5, 2007)

i waited way too long to hear this band, picking this up today for sure

osloboditelj (June 5, 2007)

Lots of classic reggae is very beat-centric with lyrics which really don't mean anything much - except for the roots period that people tend to be most familiar with. Take tracks like "Train to Skaville" or "It's You" - basic, minimal songs with themes like music and love. COnsidering it's that stuff - the stuff that would've been big in the dancehalls rather than with the Rastas - that the Aggrolites draw the most from musically, it makes total sense to me. Plus they're not in a real position to make particularly poignant insights.

I've yet to hear this, but I fully expect it'll be high on my "summer jams" list considering their previous output. Hell, I'll be in sunny climes for a while so I should be rocking this for most of the rest of the year.


Hands Down this will be my favorite CD of the year! Not a bad track on this one but they always put quality songs on their releases and stay away from doing covers on their albums, even though the covers they do live are awesome (Banana being their best!) However, they could have left the bonus track off, nothing but drum beat for like 18 minutes, waste of space, they could have put 3 or 4 more tracks on. Best tracks are Reggae Hit L.A., Lets Pack our Bags, Free Time and We Came to Score.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

how 'bout a review of the new toasters album?

Mat_T (June 5, 2007)

I'd give this album a solid four. I think the Hellcat debut was a tough record to follow because it was so fucking brilliant, but this is tight. It is definitely one of those albums which needs a lot of listening before it clicks.

Worth checking out.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

they're also about love.....not so much better lyrics as they are better vocals

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

Hopefully the lyrics are more in debth than the new Tim Armstong record

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

i agree with this review. Lyrically the Aggrolites have never really had much to offer. But musically own like nobody's business.

best tracks on album are "Free Time" and "Let's Pack Our Bags"

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