DMV Native (and now Seattle-based) Degnan Smith, under the name Naked Days, has been making music for a while. Previous releases (some dating all the way back to 2012), have called on friends Will Toledo, Amanda Schiano Di Cola, and John Huggins to help with percussion, horns, and strings. However, the group has still primarily been Smith and his nylon stringed guitar- a defining characteristic of the Naked Days sound.
Their new release, titled My Head Hz, ventures from that dynamic, all while remaining true to the classic Naked Days formula of music making: fingerpicking, Smith’s unique voice, horns, strings, and double tracked vocals. My Head Hz doesn’t feel like “Smith and Co.” but instead feels like a full band. Instilling help from Toledo, di Cola, and Huggins, along with Andrew Katz (from Car Seat Headrest) on drums, and Seth Darby (also from Car Seat Headrest) on bass, My Head Hz sounds like a more stereotypical rock band, but stays true to the unique Naked Days sound.
The record was originally announced in May of 2020 via live stream with Smith and Toledo. On this stream, the duo debuted the single “Shirt,” a solid three minute track. Fans of the previous record, Strong Pottery, are sure to enjoy the album’s sole single.
My Head Hz is full of really unique instrumental and musical changes throughout each track. Many songs start off with just a guitar, and then crescendo with drums, violin, and bass. The biggest example of this is track six, “Old Woods.” “Old Woods” starts off like a classic Naked Days track, and then halfway through it adheres to the new record’s aesthetic, adding a full band and an even fuller sound. The track seems to be paying homage to the older Naked Days records, all while symbolizing a shift to a new dynamic.
The eighth track on the record, “Drops,” is full of super cool solos and fills, sounding more like a rock band, but still staying true to the Naked Days style. Lyrically, the track also does a great job of storytelling.
Personally, my favourite track on the record is track 7, “Bother.” The track is full of a ton of instrumental changes, making the 6 minute song feel like a full album. Throughout the song, there are really cool violin parts, and halfway through, the percussion switches to a drum pad, making the track uniquely awesome to listen to. The ending refrain: “Searching through the park/Staying out in the dark/and I said/Isn’t there a way to make you feel/Isn’t there a way to help you feel alive” is sure to be stuck in your head.
Other notable tracks on the album include “It’s Just Coffee,” “My Head Hz,” and “Bus Ride”
The record has nine tracks, and clocks in at just above 41 minutes.
My Head Hz is without a doubt my favourite album out this year, and I highly recommend checking it out. Fans of artists like Car Seat Headrest, The Mountain Goats, Haley Heynderickx, and Elliott Smith are sure to love My Head Hz.
If you enjoy My Head Hz, I strongly suggest you listen to their other albums and EPs: Sleeping in Herndon (2012), Chai Knees (2014), and Strong Pottery (2016). Every Naked Days record is beautiful and unique, and there isn’t a single bad track to be found.
As of February 6, My Head Hz is out on all streaming platforms, but if you want to support the band directly, check out their bandcamp: www.nakeddays.bandcamp.com