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The Aggrolites: Dirty Reggae, Best Savored Live

Posted in MusicWorld on December 8, 2009 by

They’re the self-proclaimed originators of “Dirty Reggae,” a back-to-basics fusion of lurching Caribbean pop rhythms, 60s-style soul melodies and pure punk attitude. Emerging heroes of the skate punk/ska scenes, the Aggrolites triumphantly contemporize the sounds of pop legends like Bob Marley and the Wailers and Curtis Mayfield, while offering lyrics that explore the full emotional spectrum of life, from the hard-partying highs, to the tear-drenched lows.

With the recent release of their acclaimed 2009 album IV, the Aggrolites inch closer to the sort of massive world renown that is commensurate with their tremendous talent. Alternative Press hailed the band’s new album as a “feel-good summer record… chock-full of variety.” LA Weekly accurately described the disc as “earthy and earnest, yet utterly danceable.”

Such fawning reviews are the result of a lot of hard work and patience for the Aggrolites. Featuring Jesse Wagner (vocals, lead guitar), Brian Dixon (rhythm guitar), Roger Rivas (organ), and Jeff Roffredo (bass), the Aggrolites formed in 2002 from the ashes of two Los Angeles reggae/ska bands, the Vessels and the Rhythm Doctors. The band’s 2003 debut album, Dirty Reggae, spawned Aggrolites concert favorites like “Jimmy Jack,” “Pop the Trunk” and the title track. The disc also resulted in the Aggrolites being selected as the backing band for ska icon Prince Buster at Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. The Aggrolites’ 2007 sophomore CD, Reggae Hit L.A., debuted at #3 on Billboard’s Reggae Chart, increasing the international buzz surrounding the group.

The band has appeared at the world-famous Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, and has been a featured act on the Vans Warped Tour. Additionally, Aggrolites songs have appeared on the hit TV series Friday Night Lights, which featured their hit “Free Time.”

The band’s superb albums notwithstanding, fans insist that to fully appreciate the Aggrolites, the group must be experienced live. In the preface of a 2009 interview featured in City Newspaper (Rochester, NY), writer Frank DeBlase recounts an Aggrolites concert he attended.

“With swirling organ, soul-testifying vocals, and a back-breaking rock steady beat, the Los Angeles-based quintet had everyone there moving,” wrote self-confessed cynic De Blase. “The Aggrolites were so cool. The crowd went wild.”