Release Date: October 13, 2017
Label: Five Seven Music
For a reggae band, Dirty Heads have developed quite an eclectic taste and style of playing. From the blistering debut of Any Port In A Storm, all the way to 2017's Swim Team, each of their albums has its own identity. After just a few songs, you can easily detect the vibe of their records. Some are more party oriented (Sound of Change) while others you want to listen to while having a beer on the beach in the middle of summer (Cabin By The Sea.)
2017 brings forth Dirty Heads' most hip-hop oriented record, Swim Team. There are hints of the bands reggae roots in here, but there's far more experimentation. The album opener "Staloney" showcases this, with Dustin Bushnell (Duddy B's) smooth vocals behind a bass-laden beat accent by light touches of an acoustic guitar. "High Tea" showcases frontman Jared Watson's rapping abilities as he spits rhymes over a clean indie-rock guitar line highlighted with a pop chorus from vocalist Jordan Miller.
The album continues and brings us to "Mad At It", a fun track that just screams Dirty Heads: a guitar hook you'd hear at the beach on a hot summer day mixed in with pulsating 808 beats and rap verses. But as much hip-hop as there is, and as in-your-face as the lyrics can get, the band still managed to maintain a relaxed state of mind. "Vacation" is a reggae adventure that swaps out guitars for pianos, mimicking the classic chord patterns heard throughout the genre stick out that much more.
A major highlight of this record is "Celebrate", perhaps the most serious track that Dirty Heads have ever brought forth in a recorded format. Focusing on the struggles of balancing both living out your dreams and being away from those closest to us, it gives us a deeper insight into a band that seems to be about having a party. It hammers into us with piano-rich and emotionally charged choruses, reminds us that it doesn't matter who the act may be: touring is still an emotionally exhausting pursuit.
Things get more upbeat from here with the hip-hop infused "Diamonds & Pearls" and "Get Somewhere". "So Glad You Made It" takes us back to classic Dirty Heads territory, complete with melodic rap verses placed effortlessly over gorgeous-sounding acoustic guitars. "God Damn Liar" is the most fun track on the album, showcasing the band's ability to playfully craft a memorable chorus. "Lonely For Me" converges both hip-hop and reggae influences that make up the five-piece act before concluding with "West Coast", the band's attempt at modern pop, mixing piano-rich verses with an electronic-fueled chorus.
Swim Team shows Dirty Heads' ability to step out of their comfort zone and explore new techniques within their songs, all while maintaining the unique and original elements that make up the identity of the band that we fell in love with when Any Port In A Storm hit our dreams just a few years ago.