Alec Reviews Music: Dirty Heads tread uncharted waters with ‘Swim Team’

Alec Erickson

Despite how hard they work, Dirty Heads always keep their music chill no matter what.

Album cover for Dirty Heads' Swim Team
Photo Courtesy: iTunes

“Swim Team” is no exception to this. The record is the band’s sixth record in just 11 years, and the band shows no signs of slowing down just yet. While one of the few front runners of the reggae scene, Dirty Heads have always found a way to incorporate hip-hop, alternative and ska into their music. The band’s latest endeavor “Swim Team” is no exception with how much of a genre-bending act they are since it skirts around but never fully commits to one or the other.

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Dirty Heads have been active for barely over a decade now and have managed to make a name for themselves early on in their career. The Huntington Beach, California-based group has gained a massive following in multiple genres because they have been fusing together aspects from several genres since the release of their debut “Any Port in a Storm.” What has always set them apart as an act with their records is the chilled-out vibe their music can provide. Whether that be a crazy flow or a simple percussion rhythm, Dirty Heads always manage to keep things fresh and interesting when it comes to their music. What makes their now sixth studio album, “Swim Team,” stand out from the rest of their work is how hard it tries to be different and the number of collaborators the group worked with this time around.

“Swim Team” is an 11-track record that clocks in at around 36 minutes in length. It has everything that you have come to expect out of a Dirty Heads record and more. What really might surprise some longtime fans is how much more different this full length is in comparison to the extended play “Dessert” that the group released earlier this year, in both production value and style alone. That is because this time around Dirty Heads are trying to shake things up and not get too comfortable making music, we can hear a lot of new elements in this record that are more than welcome in a record like this.

Musically, reggae fans do not have to look far on this record to find something they will enjoy. All they need are tracks like “So Glad You Made It” and “Vacation.” The more hip-hop savvy fans of Dirty Heads need to look no further past tracks like “God Damn Liar” and “High Tea.” Tracks like “Lonely for Me” have these large production level styles that border the edge of pop, and then there are tracks like “Diamonds & Pearls” that sit precariously along that fence between reggae and alternative a bit more than other tracks. That is the theme of the production style of this record, is that no track is necessarily committed to one genre or another and it works. There is a lot of fun to be had from start to finish for sure.

Lyrically, this is where we see Dirty Heads starting to push themselves. While celebrating life is nothing new for the group, with tracks like “Vacation.” What is kind of refreshing is a more inside look at what it is like to have this kind of fame and notoriety for the band and that is exactly what we get with “Celebrate.” While nothing here is necessarily groundbreaking, it really is the performances that seal the deal on the vocals, especially on the range with tracks like “High Tea” or “West Coast.” Dirty Heads continue to dominate the hip-hop side of things, but the reggae is a bit more lacking this time around. “Swim Team” is just about having fun and reflecting on life just like some of the band’s previous releases.

Should you listen to it? Yes

“Swim Team” is some of the best-sounding material that we have gotten out of Dirty Heads in a while. It is fun from start to finish. It tries to be different, and most importantly is that it is easy to lose yourself in no matter how many times that you listen to the record. Dirty Heads always find a way to keep things fresh and “Swim Team” is the perfect example of that.

Band info:

  • The band contains all five founding members still.
  • The name of the group comes from the term their families used to call them when they were younger.
  • Often associated and tour with acts such as Sublime with Rome and 311
  • One of the first times the group played Red Rocks was in 2010.

Collegian Reporter Alec Erickson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @CTV_Ace