Every so often while doing punk music reviews, an album ends up in my lap that, while it may not be punk in terms of the classical definition, still manages to blow my mind. That’s exactly what happened with The Aggrolites‘s latest album, “Rugged Road.”
I’ll admit that my knowledge of The Aggrolites is limited. I only had a cursory listen to their last release, 2009’s “IV,” but never managed to listen to an entire album before now.
It’s certain that The Aggrolites are not The Sex Pistols reincarnated, but they have a certain punk rock ethic that will attract punk fans regardless. When it comes to music, The Aggrolites believe that simplicity and hard work are the names of the game. Recorded on reel-to-reel tape, “Rugged Road” feels like it may have been recorded in a previous time, yet manages to sound better than many overproduced, slick new recordings.
On “Rugged Road,” The Aggrolites have perfected their brand of dirty reggae. It is a rather mellow album- after all, seven out of the ten tracks are instrumental- but one that doesn’t drag on. “The Aggro Band Plays On” might as well be the band’s theme song- it’s catchy and upbeat, but showcases their dirty reggae and ska sound. It is a track with groove (and yes, that is an appropriate description of the track), that conjures images of people swaying and dancing in a relaxed and easy manner. It’s a song about good memories and great places, and with the repeated refrain of “And the Aggro band plays on,” you get the idea that more great things are to come.
While the album doesn’t exactly overwhelm the listener, it definitely seeps in to the listener’s consciousness, and one track can be stuck in your head for days after. It sneaks up on you, and has you dancing and grooving without even thinking about it. Tracks like “Complicated Girl” are so funky that you can’t help but to smile and sing along.
It certainly isn’t the most punk rock release out there, but “Rugged Road” has some serious balls. You just have to be willing to listen to the album several times to really grow to appreciate the funk, the groove, and the thoroughly enjoyable dirty reggae sound of The Aggrolites.