Monday, June 18, 2018
Features and More

Review: The Dirty Heads' 'Cabin by the Sea' is a smart, sultry musical escape

With new release Cabin by the Sea, Huntington Beach's hip, hot Dirty Heads make a smart, sultry musical escape filled with sepia-toned sing-alongs and ocean-bathed guitar strums.

For those down with DH, these are power players within the reggae-rock sub-genre, a sound that's hugely popular in California and in beach destinations across the globe. The quintet blends Bob Marley with a "Beastie" beach-boy sound; Rolling Stone highlighted the band as "best reggae rockers" in a "best new bands of 2010" feature.

Flying high off the success of chart-topping 2010 single Lay Me Down, Cabin by the Sea is a concept album layered with instrumentals and narratives, sonic embers conjuring days spent frolicking barefoot — and nights spent lying on vintage blankets in cooled sand. Breezy harmonies and starry-eyed melodies blend with summer-splashed basslines on songs like Hipster, Mongo Push and Smoke Rings.

Over the course of 16 tracks, themes focus on enchanted romances and vivid dreamscapes. Love Letters is a swooner about the role new technologies have in relationships. Lead vocalist Jared Watson wails: "I don't need no train or plane or automobile / To send you all my love." How did long-distance love ever survive snail mail?

The title track and Burn by Myself are saturated in the campfire-singalong theme. If we're to leave the cabin at all, it's only to go to a beach shack where the bartender pours heavy and there is a DJ and a disco ball so we can groove to songs like the club ready track Dance All Night.

Another narrative threaded through Cabin by the Sea is the idea of working hard and achieving dreams, familiar lyrical material for DH. On Day by Day, Disguise and We Will Rise Watson's partner in partying, Duddy B. (Dustin Bushnell), flows out his rapturous optimism for success with verbiage: "Aim for the stars dream big and don't hide it."

Like his guitar playing, Bushnell is a rock-steady compliment to Watson's rebellious range; the California longhairs prove once again to be a pair of dynamic vocalists backed by David Foral on bass, Matt Ochoa on drums and Jon Olazabal doing percussion. (Featured artists include Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome, Del the Funky Homosapien, Kymani Marley and Matisyahu, the latter of who will be touring with DH for the summer.)

While the album's overall sound pulses with grooving reggae-rock and sandy hip-hop, there is a strong '60s summertime undertone. It comes through in details like the inclusion of a sound bite from 1969 film Satan's Sadists on the beginning of Smoke Rings as well as sly lyrical references: "black bird sings in the dead of the night."

Where Any Port in the Storm was the Dirty Heads way of introducing themselves to a larger audience, Cabin by the Sea focuses on the band's permanence. Although the album paints a picture of DH as laid back and fun-loving, the band clearly poured a ton of work into Cabin by the Sea. The sentiment is exemplified through lyrics on tracks like Day by Day: "Moving forward, beyond the boarders / take warning, my day has come / Stop for nothing, wait for no one / Take warning, my day has come."

Amber McDonald can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/15/18
With over 40 years between the birth of my two daughters, I am two different fathers

With over 40 years between the birth of my two daughters, I am two different fathers

Still shaken by Bobby Kennedy’s assassination six days earlier, I sat in the hospital waiting room mindlessly thumbing through a May 1968 Rolling Stone while my wife, Fran, gave birth to our daughter Elle. As was customary, when everyone had been fre...
Published: 06/15/18
Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

LOREN ELLIOTT • Times CorrespondentPUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICOThe third-floor balcony attached to our rented apartment served as a peaceful refuge above Puerto Vallarta’s bustling central district streets. Below us, taxis honked, people crowded bus ...
Published: 06/15/18
How Tampa's Cole and Marmalade got famous, beat cancer and helped save more cats

How Tampa's Cole and Marmalade got famous, beat cancer and helped save more cats

Here's how to make your cat famous on the internet, according to the owners of some famous felines.
Published: 06/15/18
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/16/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

GULFPORT — Brianna Melton is as serious a ballet student as they come.By her junior year at St. Petersburg High’s International Baccalaureate program, she had already spent four summers training with ballet companies across the country and had narrow...
Published: 06/14/18
Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Smile for the camera, Frito. The world is watching, and you have a story to tell. The tiny seahorse came to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Sunday with fishing line wrapped around her neck. By Wednesday, she became the CMA’s newest internet ...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
From soft serve to ice pops, 12 places to get frozen treats

From soft serve to ice pops, 12 places to get frozen treats

I know we have three more months or so of hot-as-dog-breath Tampa Bay summer, but let’s start things off on the right foot with some frozen treats. Ice cream is on my mind after a recent visit to Disney Springs, when I found love in a perfect scoop o...
Published: 06/13/18
He loves his Dad Shoes ... in all their lame, comfortable glory

He loves his Dad Shoes ... in all their lame, comfortable glory

Think of your father, and the first pair of shoes that come to mind. Grass-stained golf cleats. Crusty old mudders on the deck. Fraying, decaying Birkenstocks. Burgundy leather loafers, the slip-on kind, softened and flattened by the weight of so ma...
Published: 06/13/18