Written by Molly Boekenheide
Growing up happens (if we’re lucky), and it can be tough. We begin to see people for who they really are, we understand their agendas, we know the games that they play, and yet we can still get caught off guard. When we do, it’s personal, even physically painful, until of course, we get pissed off. California natives, Dirty Heads, have shared some of their experiences as they grow in the lyrics of their new album, Sound of Change. It digs deeper than anything they have put out before.
The album kicks off with its title track, “Sound of Change,” a folk-infused tune with a hint of base pop. The lush, nearly orchestral track would fit right into a Lumineers B-side, but the Dirty Heads make it their own, with dual front men Jared “Dirty J” Watson and Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell mixing in their signature blend of insane rhymes and crooning vocals. Dirty J takes over the chorus, waxing lyrical about trusting your gut, “You’re building it up, they’re breaking it down. Want to give up? Keep holding your ground. You’re turning it up, they’re deaf to the sound…oh, the sound of change…”
“My Sweet Summer” sees the historically sunny California boys get the blues in the rhythmic, woebegone tune, telling the tale of a toxic romance that was doomed from the start. Dirty J reflects, “My Sweet Summer is gone…She left me here with sand in my bed. She played me all night long…But I’d do it all over again…” “Burials” comes next, and the name alone gives me the willies. The track is actually a contradiction of sorts; it bears a relaxing, chilled-out vibe, with an undeniably sinister undertone, layered into anxiously strumming Spanish guitars.
“Burn Slow (feat. Tech N9)” is a stand-out; Dirty Heads go in a surprisingly electronic direction. A trappy beat intermingles with touches of reggae as they tell of a romance nudged along with a little help from Mary Jane: “Hold it in, ghost toke, when our lips touch we both smoke. If the feeling is right we both know, if the hits too big we both choke, man I love this feeling…” “Franco Eyed (feat. B-Real of Cypress Hill)” is another winner, with its bass-heavy beat, not unlike Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” before settling into a chill, tropical beat.
The boys get romantic in “End of the World,” with love-laced lyrics accompanied by dramatic strings and deep, powerful percussion. “She asked me where I want to go…I said the end of the world with you,” Dirty J declares, “She says I feel like I’m home at the end of the world with you…” “One Hand” is a distinctly “indie”-sounding piece, with instrumentals that seem to bleed into one another, leaving behind a warm, luscious sound redolent of Mumford & Sons and The Head & the Heart.
“Radio” returns The Dirty Heads instrumentally back to their laid-back reggae roots, while lyrically reflecting on celebrity culture. Duddy B’s raps take a break for “Radio,” leaving Dirty J to carry the tune with his purring vocals. “She says she know me cause she heard me on the radio,” he muses, “but she don’t know me at all…” “Medusa (feat. Ward 21)” will blast your subwoofers with a seriously powerful bass, mixing dubstep and hip-hop to create a magnificent genre-blending track.
Dirty Heads bring in the funk in “Hear You Coming.” Duddy B spits rhymes about his girl cheating, scathing, “I see you with the heels, walking shamed through the hotel lobby, with your long slick stride private eye…girl you got secrets that your walls can’t hide, I move 007 like a spy, if you only knew that I’m on the other side…” “Silence” is an unexpected mixture of Red Hot Chili Peppers and pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas, with powerful, gritty guitars somehow blending seamlessly with a dirty, rap-ridden cadence.
“Dark Days” is a throwback to the Dirty Heads of old, relying on relatively simplistic instrumentals and mountains of contemplative, determined lyrics: “I’ve been to the darkest places, can’t track the time I’ve wasted,” Dirty J breathes, “I’ve had some darks days but, somehow I find the shade, oh, cause that’s the only way I know…” “Sound of Change” wraps up with “Running for Your Life,” a celebratory track about embracing life and living life the way you want to; the perfect positive spin.
“Sound of Change” is raw and personal for The Dirty Heads. In addition to Watson and Bushnell, band members include Matt Ochoa, drums; Jon Olazabal, percussion and David Foral, bass guitar. Together they have created an album with superb musicality, rhythms ranging from chill to jammin’ and lyrics that are intimately identifiable. General vibe; people suck, but life can be good. I dig.