For All the Massive
Providence, Rhode Island hasn't exactly been known as the world's hottest spot for ska music. The Agents just might change all that; at the least, their debut album, For All the Massive, is a good start. They exhibit a strong horn-driven modern ska sound with surf, reggae, and swing influences that combine to make for a record that sounds fresh and original and familiar all at the same time.
Part of that "familiar" feel comes from the horn section. The three-piece is heavy on the saxophones, giving tunes like "Fall River" a feel not unlike the Scofflaws or South Florida favorites King 7 & the Soulsonics (the latter especially, thanks to Joe McDermott's dominant bari sax). The similarity ends there, though, as the band diversifies into the oldschool R&B feel of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," the reggae riddims of "Bridge to Nowhere," and the DJ-style of "Gratidao" (complete with an opening riff straight out of the Beastie Boys' "Gratitude"!). Those three tracks were produced and mixed by Skinnerbox/Stubborn All-Stars frontman King Django, and it would be easy to assume that he's the reason that they stand out, but the Agents' other material stands toe-to-toe with the Django productions. For example, check out the soulful pop of "Scully," a duet between Jason DaLomba and Metro Stylee's Trisha Verdolino that's bound to get you singing along. Or the intricate rhythms set up between the bass, drums, guitar, and percussion on "Two Men Gone." Or the salsa-ska of "DaLomba (The Forbidden Dance)." Or the swing-surf rave up of "Fatty." All these tracks (and more) could easily be breakaway hits among the ska community, and beyond.
All in all, it's a really strong debut for the Agents. For All the Massive may not make the Earth move, but it'll definitely make your feet move! The Agents showcase tremendous potential, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where they go from here. Radical Records, 77 Bleeker Street, Suite C2-21, New York, NY 10012