Dirty Heads – Home/Phantoms of Summer: Acoustic Sessions
1.) Intro – Anchors Up
2.) Warming Sun
3.) Coming Home
4.) Strike Gently
7.) Higher and Higher
8.) Gold To Me
9.) Cabin By The Sea
10.) Sloth’s Revenge
11.) Outro – Beast of the Lake
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: October 29th, 2013
Record Label: Five Seven Music
Website: Dirty Heads Website
Formed in 2003 out of Huntington Beach, CA, The Dirty Heads combine an intriguing mix of hip-hop, reggae and alternative rock with a sunny California swagger. The band released their debut album, Any Port In A Storm in September of 2008, which features the hit track “Lay Me Down,” a song that spent eleven weeks at #1 on the Billboard alternative chart, more than any single that year by any other artist. The band followed with their sophomore effort Cabin By The Sea in June of 2012, which saw three hit singles “Spread Too Thin,” “Dance All Night,” as well as the album’s title track “Cabin By The Sea”. The album featured a number of special guests including Matisyahu, KyMani Marley, and Del the Funky Homosapien.
The band returns home with Phantoms of Summer, an all acoustic album to which the band explains:
“The title ‘Home – Phantoms of Summer’ completes the thematic cycle of our first three EP’s and albums. The first was ‘Sails to the Wind,’ where we were just getting started and taking off, followed by ‘Any Port in a Storm’ which was us trying to find ourselves sonically and as a band. ‘Cabin By the Sea’ was a paradise we found and built after the storm. Now we have left that cabin and we are returning home to where we started, as an acoustic act. ‘Phantoms of Summer’ sums up these songs and this album, which was recorded over the summer, as well as the fact we are never home during summer so WE the Dirty Heads are also the phantoms of summer.” – Vocalist, Jared “Dirty J” Watson
Home – Phantoms of Summer plays more like an EP than it does a brand new album as it has 8 new songs when you minus the Intro, Outro & Acoustic version of “Cabin By The Sea”. It is a solid release, however, showcasing the comfortable acoustic approach that appears to come so naturally to these guys. As a result, I can’t help but want more than Intros/Outros & another version of “Cabin By The Sea”, but that’s me being greedy as a fan and goes to show their sound is addicting.
What stands out to me on this release, is how much Jared Watson has grown as a vocalist. When Dirty Heads started out, Jared was more known for his capacity to deliver catchy, punchline-heavy rap verses, while other vocalist, Dustin Bushnell, aka Duddy B, would sing the hooks around the verses as well as rap. The roles have somewhat reversed with Jared singing more of the melodies & hooks, while Duddy dishes out more of the catchy, punchline-heavy rap verses. Duddy still sings his fair-share of songs, and does it well, but it’s Jared that appears to really be blossoming as a vocalist.
Songs such as “Warming Sun”, “Stirke Gently”, “Garland” & “Phantom” are the best examples off the new album, displaying how far Jared has come as a vocalist & melody maker. He has catchy hooks, smooth delivery & remains humble within his vocal range. There are great harmonies & you’re going to hear a real classic rock influence over the songs Jared sings on and together, Dirty Heads deliver wonderfully!
If you want classic, vintage Dirty Heads, then you will LOVE “Sloth’s Revenge”. It sounds like the song could’ve been on an early demo next to vintage hits “Bet Your Bits”, “No Time For Y’all” and “Antelope”. Duddy B shines as he raps 2 brilliant verses, while strumming on guitar. Its simple, catchy, creative & the hook does its job in hooking you, with Jared singing “We’re never gonna lay down, we ain’t going nowhere – you come and give a try. Our bond is our blood & thicker than water, like Goonies never say die!”.
I can almost hear a hint of Tom Petty over the hook of “Coming Home” & Duddy does a great job with his guitar work throughout the album. Percussionist, Jon Olazabal, aka Jon Jon, anchors out the album bringing the beat on bongos, rounding out the signature to an original Dirty Heads sound.
The “Cabin By The Sea” acoustic rendering is the only song that feels a little out of place and I found myself skipping over it, eager to hear the newer songs. This was the case with the Intro & Outro tracks. They’re good songs, but a little less timeless as I found myself eventually skipping over them to hear the other 8 new songs.
I think Home – Phantoms of Summer gives us an early glimpse of a new musical journey the Dirty Heads may embark on with future releases. I dig the classic rock influence, mixed well over finger plucking acoustic, with doses of reggae & hip hop. There’s no over production, giving you the listener a LIVE acoustic feel for our own intimate performance with each spin. If this acoustic album is a hint of things to come, then I feel we may see more of a classic rock influence as Jared continues to take the lead on the hooks & melodies. Duddy B keeps the bulk of the hip hop relevant & Jared occasionally shows off his hip hop ability, but classic rock seems to be the influential theme here. A great addition to the Dirty Heads catalog & a great glimpse of things to come.
Written & Reviewed By: Mike Patti
[Editor’s Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]