[17 September 2008]
The Dirty Hands recently toured with 311 and Matisyahu, and the demographics fit: this is a reggae/hip hop group that is primarily concerned with good times. The West Coast inspires an overarching attitude for this band on its scattershot debut, Any Port in a Storm. There’s something weird in the tracking—the disc careens from upbeat, aggressive “let’s party!” jams to laid-back rootsy ballads, almost in a one-to-one alternation. Vocalist Jared Watson references Sublime directly on “Believe”, and it’s a dependable influence for one half of the group’s sound.
On the rest of the tracks, it’s something like a more laid-back Limp Bizkit. If there’s something that brands the young group as distinctly West Coast it’s their positivity. The chorus of first single “Stand Tall” (“If your friends are friends of love then we’re all friends”) is characteristic. But the Dirty Heads’ simplistic rhyme schemes and disconcerting use of the F-bomb (robbed of its impact through casual use, just to make up syllables) quickly demonstrate there are leagues between this dick-hop and the intelligent, twisted witticisms of Why? In fact, the group’s probably best at straight reggae pop. It is in these moments where all that old-fashioned scratching and rudimentary rapping seem like gloss.