Album Review: The Aggrolites – “Rugged Road”

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.

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Comments 9

  • I’ve seen this band in concert several times and always loved their live shows. Their version of The Beatles “Don’t Let Me Down” is incredible! But, I’ve never really been thrilled by their CD’s (I own all of their previous ones). There are always 3 or 4 songs on each disc that I really like but the remainder of the records are a bit on the boring side. The songs I like the least are usually the instrumentals, so thanks for warning me that this disc is Mostly instrumental. I’ll probably pass on this CD.

  • This is by far one of my favorite new albums I’ve listened to recently. Trial and Error is such an amazing song with really great lyrics that give a good message to their fans. I love the whole style of this album. I’m so stoked to see them live at Warped Tour this summer, especially now after the release of Rugged Road! Great band, incredible music, keep up the great work Aggros!!

  • DIRTY REGGAE! The first time I saw this band was in the parking lot of Lou’s Records in San Diego playing an “acoustic” set. Been a fan ever since…

  • Really love “The Aggro Band Plays On”. Played it once on a stupid monday morning and it made my day !!
    Can’t wait to see them in Vegas on June 30.

  • this album is sick!!!! i love this band like no other..been a fan for ages and they keep getting better and better..

  • This is sick if you havn’t checked out the Aggrolites….they are whats up with the skatalite scene. Stoked for more to come!

  • The Aggrolites are so sick. Their reinvented reggae with their high energy antics is awesome. Giving the punk kids and beach boys something to love at the same time.

  • One word comes to mind about the Aggrolites that is synonymous with this review- FUNKY. This new album is definitely doing the band justice as it really got me listening to their unique flow and it really appeals to every type of reggae fan. So stoked to seem em live, one song to definitely watch out for is “Dreamin on Erie”, soo sick!!

  • I’m impressed

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