Dirty Heads ‘Swim Team’ album review
Some bands stick to a certain sound and a niche market. You know, the whole ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. If you haven’t noticed by now, the Dirty Heads boys dare to be different. And, an epitomic example of their ever-changing ways is their sixth studio album Swim Team, set to hit digital outlets off Five Seven Music this Friday, October 13th. But, wait… didn’t the Sounds of Change album already show how eclectic Dirty Heads can be? What makes this release so standout, you ask? Well, for one, Swim Team transcends musical categorization due to a diverse team of producers paired with an overriding desire to be experimental. From classical piano to bongos to synthesizers, the new album has elements of hip hop, house, reggae, rock, dubstep, pop, world, alternative – all the bases are covered. Collaborators include Jonas Jeberg [Demi Lovato, Juicy J, Jason Derulo], “Lay Me Down” cohort Rome, Blueprint [Jay-Z, Kanye West, Timbaland, Eminem, Nas, Prodigy], Oren Yoel [Miley Cyrus, Kanye West], HEAVY [Andrew McMahon] and The Score. The Dirty Heads boys wanted to take their hip hop persona to a whole new level, and this motley crew did just the trick.
Swim Team transcends musical categorization due to a diverse team of producers paired with an overriding desire to be experimental.
Another reason Swim Team rings revolutionary is that it represents yet another turning point in the band’s career. The subject matter of the album revolves around one theme – fame. Not acquiring it; dealing with it. Fame is something everyone wants until you look around one day and realize it’s spiraled out of control. The boys skyrocketed to success a long time ago, making necessary life adjustments along the way... the irony is, the more larger than life they lived, the less fun it was to make music. Recording used to be exciting, used to mean something. It’s only natural after years and years of "making a living off of living" that being humble goes out the window from overexposure to industry sycophants, substances become staples in daily diets, contract deadlines become more important than going home for the holidays. People surround you at all times, yet loneliness ensues. Well, the DH boys just won’t stand for it. Co-frontman Jared Watson comments on how recording Swim Team sparked nostalgia for how it used to be, “Making [this] record, I re-fell in love with everything about being in this band: writing music, playing shows, having fun, and where we’re at. We spent every day not only working on songs, but laughing our asses off. What other people said didn’t matter. The rules of being a proper songwriter and all of that bullshit didn’t matter. If something felt good, we left it in there. It was so cool to get back to that feeling. Creating music was completely free. It was just fucking fun!” Freedom is all an artist can ask for.
The 10-track album exposes every constituent that makes up the band, inviting listeners into the Dirty Heads way of life.
And, Watson isn’t joking on the “freedom” bit – the album is a giant whirlwind of the avant-garde. Case in point, the song “Mad At It” bends the vocal track’s pitch way, way up high like a chipmunk, then drops it down to a booming bass… all over a repeating electronic banjo riff. You can’t even be mad at it, that’s impressive. What the listener walks away with is a giant gulp of the Mad Hatter’s tea party in their earholes. Pertaining to the ‘fame’ theme, the first single off the album “Vacation” spells it out to listeners loud and clear that being a Dirty Head doesn’t suck. Counter to that happy-go-lucky track is the somber song that follows immediately after, the second single off the album “Celebrate” featuring The Unlikely Candidates. In a letter to mom, the band expresses that although being on top of the world was the goal, maybe one day they can actually take a day off to go celebrate their success back home. Until then, “tears fall behind phone screens” as they express their remorse for being absent at birthdays, funerals, weddings, and everything in between. Being famous comes at a price, after all.
The 10-track album exposes every constituent that makes up the band, inviting listeners into the Dirty Heads way of life. Watson rejoices in being translucent with his fans, "Join this weird, odd, and wonderful secret society we’ve created over the past fifteen years. You’re part of it now. Welcome to the team.” The CD release party for Swim Team is set for this Thursday night in Los Angeles, and the band plans to hit the road shortly after starting October 24th on a national tour alongside The Unlikely Candidates and Tyrone’s Jacket. Swim Team is now available on iTunes or Amazon for pre-order, and for more on everything Dirty Heads, visit www.dirtyheads.com.
Pre-order Swim Team:
Dirty Heads "Celebrate" music video (feat. The Unlikely Candidates):
Dirty Heads "Vacation" music video:
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Reggae.