Prepare to give praise to the “Most High” and bask in positive Rastafari-inspired vibrations! Flamingo Cantina’s resident reggae legend and bandleader of the Mau Mau Chaplains Alan Moe Monsarrat released a new LP Agriculture on vinyl last July. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the release party at Flamingo Cantina, but I must do my due diligence to support one of my favorite Austin musicians.
Be warned! Once you listen to the title track “Agriculture”, you will not be able to stop singing its infectious chorus, “Get up in the morning, try a little agriculture.” Even typing out the words I feel the melody compelling me to put my hands in the dirt and plant some of the best, “collie herb you’ve ever seen.” I will not actually do that because I do not want to go to jail. Legalize it already!
General Smiley of legendary dancehall duo Michigan and Smiley is featured on both the title track and “Under the Overpass”, which tells of a homeless grandmother’s plight to find a place to sleep for the night. Since the passing of Proposition B and the reinstatement of city camping bans, “Under the Overpass” rings all too timely as Austin searches for a more permanent solution to providing the homeless population with adequate resources. This is just one of many tracks on the album that encourages the listener to work towards a more empathetic and communal society: whether it be growing our own food supply, obeying motherly wisdom to end petty wars (“Mama Don’t Approve”), or learning from and working to imitate the universal love Jah has for every color and tongue on earth (“Only Jah”). Moe is asking us to abandon the typical crutches and shortcomings of a divisive modern society and instead, with love, to overcome humanity’s inability to find peace with the “other.”
In addition to some heavy overtones, the album features some light-hearted and buoyant tunes as well. Listen to “Warm and Wet” and try not to immediately drive to South Padre and dance until sunset with your beloved on the beach. I especially enjoy the Tejano-inspired “Perfect Friends” in which Moe acknowledges that despite his friends’ smoking, drinking, and cussing too much, they have always been reliable through thick and thin.
Usually, we only become friends with those who can accept our faults and raise a glass to our mutual imperfections. Listen to this album, and you will want to raise a glass with just about everyone.
Review by Bryce Robinson