Dirty Heads to headline Pearl Street this Sunday

By Jessica Chaiken

(Alex Liscio Photos Flickr)
(Alex Liscio Photos Flickr)

The California rock-reggae band Dirty Heads, whose sound mixes hip-hop, reggae and rock, will headline the Pearl Street Ballroom in Northampton this Sunday.

Dirty Heads began their journey as a band back in 1996 when Jared Watson, known as “Dirty J” and Dustin Bushnell, also known as “Duddy B,” formed the band. The two originally met at a party during their freshman year of high school, where Bushnell introduced Watson to his rap demo tapes. From that point on, the two, with minimal backgrounds in music, took to Bushnell’s garage and began to compose.

After these initial jam sessions, which featured Dirty J on vocals and Duddy B on vocals and guitar, more band members were added. The current band has, in addition to Dirty J and Duddy B, David Floral on bass, Jon Olazabal on percussion, Matt Ochoa on drums and Shawn Hagood on keyboards.

The band’s first album, “Any Port in a Storm,” came out in 2008. It was the special edition of this album that contained “Lay Me Down,” the hit that became the band’s big break. “Any Port in a Storm” sold well, and helped to introduce the band’s unique mix of reggae and hip-hop to a wider audience.

“Cabin by the Sea,” the band’s 2012 sophomore effort, was more summery, and was even more heavily influenced by reggae. The mellow and relaxed vibes of the album’s songs take listeners to a simpler time, free of worries. The album featured numerous guests, such as Rome Ramirez (who also appeared on “Lay Me Down”) Matisyahu and Del the Funky Homosapien.

With “Home—Phantoms of Summer,” which was released in 2013, Dirty Heads decided to show their softer side. Eschewing the influence of reggae, “Home—Phantoms of Summer” is simple, channeling the singer/songwriter side of the band’s sound. They showcase their talent through vocals and acoustic melodies and most of the songs are on the spare side, showing the diversity of the band’s abilities.

The following year, Dirty Heads released one of their more popular albums, “Sounds of Change.” More so than their other albums, “Sounds of Change,” which spawned hits like “My Sweet Summer,” channeled the sounds of rock.

However, the band’s newest album, “Dirty Heads,” marks a return to the band’s original pop-meets-reggae-meets-hip/hop sound. Released July 15, the songs better reflect the band’s confidence, with the single “That’s All I Need” serving as the album’s obligatory, feel-good alternative radio hit.

As a band, Dirty Heads have always had a unique style. Because each of their albums channel different genres, they have proven to be very dynamic, constantly able to shift seamlessly between sounds.

The goal of the band is, and has always been, to stand apart from mainstream music. Their rare and distinctive sound as a band leaves them free from definitions and labels, giving them the freedom to experiment freely with their songs, and to enjoy just making music.

The show begins at 8 p.m. New Beat Fund and RDGLDGRN will open the proceedings. Tickets start at $26, and are available at nbotickets.com.

Jessica Chaiken can be reached at [email protected]