by James Conway
As perfect getaways go, the chilled-out bolthole described by So-Cal natives The Dirty Heads on their sophomore album “Cabin by the Sea” takes some beating. Who can honestly say they haven’t spent a good proportion of their working week daydreaming wistfully of the crashing waves, palm trees and mellow solitude of a beachside hut? Well The Dirty Heads must feel our collective anguish for they’ve done their best to recreate these wishful thoughts in audio form, and while leaning back and pressing play on “Cabin by the Sea” may not transport you immediately to paradise, you can at least close your eyes and pretend.
The sweet acoustic intro of ‘Arrival’ says all it needs to say in two minutes with Jared “Dirty J” Watson sounding like he doesn’t have a care in the world. The title track is impossible not to grin to, sounding like Gym Class Heroes attempting a sea shanty anthem. All the ingredients for a blissed-out good time are present; upbeat reggae vibes, relaxed hip-hop and instantly hummable melodies. They even throw in some seagull squawks and party noises for good measure. Mariachi horns make an appearance on ‘Disguise’ with Watson rapping gamely about being as high as the sky and “following the purple haze through the everglades.” Clichéd maybe but when considering how these guys just want to share a piece of their laid-back life with you, it’s unfair to be negative. The jammy gits.
Single ‘Spread too Thin’ is “about needing a breather in life” according to guitarist Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell who seems to have taken plenty of his own advice as his leisurely strumming glides the track along with consummate ease. Kymani Marley pops up on ‘Your Love’, doing his famous namesake proud as the spirit of The Wailers hovers all around, occasionally reaching in for a toke. Another guest spot from Rome helps turn the squelching effects of ‘Mongo Push’ into a dancefloor filler, while Hasidic Hip-Hop star Matisyahu lends the wistful ‘Dance All Night’ an irresistible international flavour.
The horns come out again for the Dancehall-tinged ‘Hipster’, a far more palatable prospect than the name suggests while the run-of-the-mill ‘Notice’ passes by , well, unnoticed. You can almost smell the smoky good vibes of ‘Day by Day’ before things take a different turn on the scathing DJ Shadow style ‘Smoke Rings’ with guest star Del the Funky taking aim at whoever has wronged him. The flowing hip-hop of ‘We Will Rise’ manages to sound chilled out as well as relevant, no mean feat in such an overcrowded genre. Unfortunately the album runs out of puff towards the end with ‘Best of Us’ and ‘Love Letters’ maintaining the good vibes but falling short of the high standards set by the earlier numbers before the sweet melodies of ‘Farewell’ send us off into the sunset.
Already big names having spent a respectable amount of time on the US Billboard Charts, The Dirty Heads have scored big on “Cabin by the Sea” and provided they get to work with a producer who isn’t afraid to swing the axe where it’s needed in future, there’s no doubt that many more people will be heading down to their most happening of beach parties.