CD review: The Dirty Heads, Any Port in a Storm Special Edition (with video)

Music compliments a summer day like safety pins do punk rock; like dreadlocks do reggae; like trendy sneakers compliment hip hop – one just adds to the overall appeal of the other. With this in mind, Any Port in a Storm (Special Edition), an extended version of the debut album from Cali-group The Dirty Heads, is definitely a must have album to enhance the sweet summertime background music of twenty-ten.

On Any Port in a Storm (Spec), The Dirty Heads lay down Sublime-style rock reggae beats with harmonizing lyrics and Beastie Boy-infused raps. Since finding out about the band in Rolling Stone, I have been listening to the digital version non-stop.

“Believe” – one of my favorite tracks on the record – mixes the rock, reggae and hip-hop elements with melodic guitar riffs and percussion drum beats. Through the song’s lyrics, vocalists Jared Watson and Dustin Bushnell (also a guitarist for the band) describe their dynamic musical sound and influences:

Well ya never quite forget the first tape you buy/ mine was Naughty by Nature back when OPP was hot/ who’d have thought that I could ever turn out this way/ I’m blamin’ Ed rock Mic D and MCA/ yeah it was Beasties on mind pretty much all the time/ till i started smokin’ pot and figured out about Sublime/ oh my god I never wanted something so badly/ I wanna learn to play guitar and sing just like Bradley/and the b lines that Eric dropped reminded me of hip hop/ and I’m singin’ lovin’ is what I got I got I got/cause when the lovin’ was gone/ I learned to play the blues through Stevie Ray Vaughn/ I needed music for all the ways it helped me feel/ and now I’m lovin’ my guitar the way that BB loved Lucielle.

For more on “Believe” and The Dirty Heads’ influences, check out the video below (the video includes Cali-singer and guitarist Rome, who has recently become the frontman of Sublime with Rome and wrote songs with The Dirty Heads).

Although the five-member outfit has been influenced by all of the previously mentioned talents, the guys definitely add their own unique flavor to the musical universe. The surf-sonic essence of the album is sandy and salty, like tequila and the beach. It is because of their stand-out sound in the recently reemerging rock-reggae genre, that Rolling Stone highlighted The Dirty Heads as “Best Reggae Rockers” in its most recent issue’s “Best New bands of 2010” feature.

“Maybe that sound died out in other spots, but in California it never died,” Watson is quoted as saying in the RS article. “Sublime influenced us a lot. A very lot. But I don’t want to copy them 100 percent.”

With 23 tracks, The Dirty Heads hold back nothing when displaying their melodic and lyrical range on the extended edition of their freshman record. With its beach-pop music hooks and fun ocean bathed lyrics, “Lay Me Down,” currently one of the top 25 Rock Songs on the Billboard chart, is destined for summer radio greatness.

According to the RS article, the song was written by Bushnell and Rome. The Dirty Heads will be touring with Sublime with Rome beginning April 20.

The lighter, harmonic sound of “Lay Me Down” can be heard in several songs on the album, but most have lyrics that allow the tuneful tides to take the listener a little deeper and the harmonic surf to deliver positive life-messages.

For example, on the track “Shine” the rap-raggae’ing singers advocate for being yourself over conforming, with lyrics like “If you come to be yourself original let it shine/ and if your friends are friends of love then they're all friends of mine.” In other songs like “Stand Tall” the band takes the same message one step further, singing about the importance of overcoming adversity when following your goals.

Through the heavier hip-hop infused songs, like “Hip Hop Misfits” and “Taint,” The Dirty Heads boast about their mad lyrical and musical skills, but it is clear the Orange County-based band has confronted rough waters while riding the musical waves of their life aspirations*.

However, with the initial success of "Lay Me Down" it seems The Dirty Heads should be well on their way to achieving the artistic and musical vision they have for themselves.

Any Port in a Storm (Special Edition) (Executive Music Group) was released digitally in February and the physical copy is due out April 27.

4 Stars

* The Dirty Heads were originally signed to Warner Bros., but artistic differences led them to leave the label, though they did manage to take their master recordings, which comprise the bulk of Any Port in a Storm, with them (source:

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