Skye Sweetnam Rides The Aggro Riddim

Posted on November 8th, 2008 by JJ Loy

Remember last year’s Tim Armstrong solo record, A Poet’s Life?  Remember it was backed by The Aggrolites?  Remember that hot track, Into Action, featured Sky Sweetnam on background vocals?

Good, then you’re all caught up to check out her new video for Into Action, this time she steps up and takes the lead.

Check it:

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Here’s the original Tim Version filmed in the Hellcat style:

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Comments (6) Nov 08 2008

Ska Blah Blah: Small Talk – Episode 05 – The Aggrolites

Posted on July 17th, 2008 by JJ Loy

Brian Dixon has been a major influence in LA’s Ska and Reggae scene for years now.  He’s been a key player in the Rhythm Doctors and the After Hours project- his latest thing is a little band you might have heard of- called The Aggrolites.

Brian and I discuss The Aggro’s writing process and their belief that everyone can love good Reggae, on this, the last episode of Small Talk.

Get The Aggrolites newest record Reggae Hit LA Link

Watch The Aggrolites Videos on YouTube Link

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Comments (5) Jul 17 2008

Ska Online: Tim Armstrong and Aggrolites – Live in mp3

Posted on March 29th, 2008 by JJ Loy

I don’t want this site to be one of those blogs that posts a lot of zShare and RapidShare content, however, I love bootlegs and live recordings. Since the kids over at punktorrents.com didn’t seem too interested in my offering of this great live set, I thought maybe my loyal readers would be.

This was recorded (not by me) live at the KROQ Weenie Roast ’07 and features Tim and the Aggrolites performing a lot of songs from A Poets Life. Plus, for the last two songs, Lars Fredrickson joins the group for some old fashioned Rancid tunes. The recording itself is better than average, with only a little bit of noise and glitch- if I had to grade it, I’d give it a B.

Click here for the zShare link.

Related Ska Blah Blah coverage:

A Poets Live Review and Vids

Comments (1) Mar 29 2008

Take it or Leave it – Top 5′s of 2007

Posted on January 2nd, 2008 by JJ Loy

In case you haven’t noticed, we are now living in a New Year. It’s a time to reflect on the year before, a time to ask, “what were the best Ska and Reggae albums of the past 12 months?” More importantly, it’s a time where I answer that very question, in the form of various Top 5 lists.

Top Ska Albums

  1. The Pietasters – All Day I hesitate to call this a Ska album since it is largely Reggae with a fair share of Rock n’ Roll and Garage mixed into the track list. But the Pietasters will always be a Ska band at heart, and this album is their best yet.
  2. The Pepperpots – Shake It! I’d really like to hear the Pepperpots get a bit rawer. Shake It! is fantastic all over, although sterile at times. These girls are onto something.
  3. The Skatalites – On the Right Track I’ve reviewed this album previously, so to make a long story short: It’s far from the original line-up, but this album delivers new songs in the quintessential, straight forward Ska that you would expect.
  4. Kingston Kitchen – Today’s Special Not a full album, but Dr. Ring Ding fronts this Jazzy outfit through 6 tracks that push the stylistic boundaries of Ska-Jazz.
  5. Deals Gone Bad – The Ramblers These guys seem poised to be major players in the Ska scene. This album, once started, has a tendency to play all the way through. The soulful vocals and jazzy solos keep my fingers off of the skip button. But don’t rest on your laurels yet DGB, with power comes responsibility.

Top Dub Albums

  1. The Drastics – Waiting Easily my most played album of last year, and I haven’t had it for very long. Their brand of Dub is heavy and multifaceted, but never a nuisance. It’s mellow enough to be background music, but experimental enough to pay attention too. It is perfect Dub.
  2. Crazy Baldhead – Has a Posse Agent Jay has a very home made approach to Dub, and his recording aesthetic directly effects the end product. Warm and analog- very Version City.
  3. Ticklah – Ticklah vs Axelrod Brilliant Ska and Jazz Dubs in the style of Victor Rice. Rice is, in fact, on about half of the tracks. However, unlike In America, TvA has vocal tracks by a handful of musicians, while Rice tends to play straight instrumentals. I predict big things for Ticklah in the coming years.
  4. The Eternals – Heavy International This is not the mellow Dub Reggae that you used to see in the genre, this is noisy- circus style syncopation with mind warping effects, urban poetry and unsteady beats. The Eternals aggression has not fallen on deaf ears.
  5. Unnamed – The Good, The Bad and The Queen Damon Albarn now has side projects to his side projects. Blur and The Gorillaz front man, teamed up with the Clash’s Paul Simonon and Danger Mouse. Not a Dub album, and certainly not a Reggae album, GBQ is slow tempo Rock with moody Dub elements that make it worth mentioning here.

Top Early/Skinhead Reggae

  1. The Aggrolites – Reggae Hit LA My downstairs neighbor must hate it when I play this disc, because nothing gets my feet going like The Aggrolites.
  2. Tim Armstrong – Life of a Poet This record, backed by The Aggrolites is like a night out with the band and Armstrong, themselves. The tempo is steady and the drop is Skinhead, but there’s a Punky- sometimes Clubby sound to Life of a Poet.
  3. Green Room Rockers – Hoosier Homegrown These guys seemed to pop up out of nowhere, and now they’re winning over audiences on the East Coast. There is room for them to grow still, but a very impressive first album.
  • I have to give Honorable Mention to a few other bands who had Early-Style Reggae offerings from 2006, but didn’t become easily available (to me) until this last year. The Upsessions and The Caroloregians both released records that would have rivaled The Aggrolites for the top spot. I hope that in ’08 I will hear more from both bands.

Favorite Tracks

  1. Dr. Ring-Ding and Vic Ruggiero – What it Takes
  2. Tim Armstrong – Inner City Violence
  3. The Slackers – Mind Your Own Business
  4. The Pietasters – G to F
  5. Bedoin Soundclash – Nico on the Night Train

Albums Worth Mentioning

Some of these listed here are being noted for being torch carriers in other revivalist genres; and some for adeptly mixing various traditional sounds. It’s this that I look for in music, Jamaican influenced or not.

  1. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – 100 Days 100 Nights
  2. Antibalas – Security EP
  3. Beastie Boys – The Mix Up
  4. Manu Chao – La Radiolina
  5. Ozomatli – Don’t Mess with the Dragon

Comments (0) Jan 02 2008

Cut the Chit Chat – 05 -Ska Demos

Posted on October 23rd, 2007 by JJ Loy



This Episode of Cut the Chit Chat isn’t the pretteiest or the most accessible; I’ve made- but it’s one that I’ve been dying to make for a long time. The reason being that I’m an amateur tape trader, and I get very few excuses to show off some of my rare stuff.

If you put up with the raw mixes and the loud hisses, you’ll be rewarded with alternate takes and a backwards engineered reflection of the recording process.

The introduction to the show features what can’t be aptly described as a demo, but is just as scratchy and hard to find, as anything else in the show- Bob Marley’s Rudie Cut. I started the first set off with three rare Slackers tracks that embody their early Two-Tone style, including the earliest version of You Don’t Know I, that I’ve ever heard. I keep the sound in NY for the next couple of demos by Mephiskapheles: Doomsday and My Three Favorite Americans. The first set ends with tracks from Fishbone and The Toasters, respectively. These tracks aren’t exactly rare, but might serve as a curiosity to those who haven’t heard them before.

The next set kicks off with the Violent Femmes’ Reggae-licious demo of Please Don’t Go (compare this to the original studio version to note the progress of this amazing bass solo). A pair of Hepcat demos follows, early cuts of Nigel and Take Dat. Although, these versions have never been released, you’ll find a lot of Hepcat fans already have these tracks on their ipods. The 7 Song Demo that Hepcat made for Moon Records is standard fare for Ska bootleggers. Following right behind comes some early Specials, or rather, The Coventry Automatics. This (hornless) version of Dawning of a New Era has been released dozens of times, but is very much a rough outline of the track we all know and love. And much the same could be said of the next demo track by The Clash, Rudie Can’t Fail from the Vanilla Tapes- not hard to find, but not quite ready for the big leagues.

The final tracks are what I believe will be of most interest to my listeners- but first, a bit of history: I’m sure many of you remember when the first Give ‘em the Boot compilation dropped. Nearly every track on that $5 cd was steller, but one song stood out over all the others, in my opinion. The Silencers’ Policeman was that song- ghostly and urban, the sound was very Two-Tone, faster than The Slackers but not as Punky as Rancid. The liner notes confirmed that this was a team up between Vic Ruggiero and Tim Armstrong, and promised a forthcoming album. Years go by and still no sign of a Silencers record. Ruggiero mentions in an interview, that an albums worth of songs were, in fact, recorded an are just waiting for some attention, but also, to not hold our breath. Then, about two years ago, I found (through a P2P service) a folder labeled, Life Won’t Wait Demos. Sure enough, many of the files were early demos of songs that would end up on Life Won’t wait, but the last few in the folder were unique. They would never become Rancid songs, and they featured Ruggiero more prominently. I believe this session, the Life Won’t Wait demos, to be all there is to The Silencers rumor. But please correct me if I’m wrong. This also reconfirmed a theory of mine, that Ruggiero had a great deal of influence on Rancid’s Life Won’t Wait. To finish the show, I picked two tracks from these bootlegs, the demo for Policeman and a much lower-fi version of the Rancid B-side, Brad Logan.

Also, check out the previous episode, Ska Rap, to hear another Silencer Sessions cut, Express Yourself (an NWA cover).

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Comments (2) Oct 23 2007