With the release of The Dirty Heads’ second full length LP, they have officially rung in summer, and they want nothing more to transport you to their Cabin by the Sea getaway for an hour or so to experience their blend of carefree reggae, hip hop, and good vibes. The SoCal quintet got their start a few years ago after a big push from their hit single “Lay Me Down,” which featured Rome Ramirez of Sublime With Rome, and was the feelgood anthem of the season. Comparisons to early Sublime seem definitely welcome, as the founding duo owe much of their sound to growing up listening to Bradley Nowell and Co.
With Cabin by the Sea, the guys expand on their solid sound, and stay true to hip hop and reggae, while trying a few new things out in the process. The hope is that the disc feels like an actual vacation from wherever you are, to experience a laid back summer with DH. The intro tune “Arrival” is literally full of sounds of waves crashing and seagulls calling, as they bring the listener to the title track and “if you wish, you can stay as long as you please. Just lend a helping hand to build our cabin by the sea, where every day is beautiful, the summer sand, the breeze, and everybody lives together here in harmony.” It’s a mellow vision of paradise, and it’s hard not to imagine being there as the track plays.
“Disguise” brings in the Spanish horns and a bit of hip hop flavor, with lyrics that speak to all their influences. Name-dropping songs from everyone from James Taylor and Bob Dylan, to the Doors and Jimi Hendrix, the upbeat track shows what they can do with a little energy and creativity. Then comes the album’s first single “Spread Too Thin,” which warns of the dangers of burning the candle at both ends and is probably the inspiration for getting away to that Cabin in the first place. Check the goofy video for it here.
The Dirty Heads bring in a bunch of guest stars for their summer getaway, after big success with Rome Ramirez, M. Shadows, and “fifth Beatle” Billy Preston on their first disc. This time, Rome is back again, as are Kymani Marley, Matisyahu, and Del The Funky Homosapien. Marley adds some definite reggae credibility on the track “Your Love” which name drops his father Bob, while Rome’s inclusion on “Mongo Push” also brings a throwback vibe to the days of Sublime’s “Get Ready” or “Caress Me Down.”
For the Del The Funky Homosapien track, “Smoke Rings,” the crew go the other way, and hit a low note. Unnecessary F-bombs, a focus on their more hip hop side, and one too many songs about smoking weed litter the second half of the album, upsetting the mellow groove set in tunes like “Notice.” When they stick to the reggae and upstroke groove in those type of songs, I don’t think there’s a band out there today who can do it better, but the uneven vibe that they throw in from time to time dispels the “Cabin by the Sea” imagery and causes me to come back from my tropical vacation a few nights early.
Cabin by the Sea definitely has improved the sound that made Any Port in the Storm a success, and as they continue to grow, I hope songs like Hawaiian inspired “Love Letters” and the clever rhythms of “Day By Day” become more of the pattern they create from. Enjoy the holiday, but beware of a little smokescreen here and there.
Try This Track: “Day By Day”