Birds of California soar with fourth release.
BY MICHAEL SIMMONS
“This is Rob Waller of I See Hawks in L.A. on May 30, 2008. It’s approximately 73 degrees outside. Western breeze is blowing in off the ocean. We are all currently alive.”
“Barely,” I mutter, as I snatch the tape recorder from Waller’s bearlike paws and replace it with a beer. Lead singer Waller, lead guitarist Paul Lacques and bassist Paul Marshall — three-fourths of the Hawks (drummer Shawn Nourse couldn’t show) — are sitting in my Palms crib and yapping about Hallowed Ground, the band’s latest album. Like the others, it’s filled with songs of wit and vision about the absurdist horror show that is 21st-century America.
“One of the things that trips me out about this record is, Holy shit, we’ve really made a lot of music!” laughs Waller. “This being the fourth record, I hear the good times, the bad times. We are this funny brotherhood who’ve done this crazy shit together and then were able to come back and tell the story.”
[click to continue…]
I See Hawks in L.A. live at Amoeba Music, May 28
The nine-year survival of I See Hawks in L.A. stands as righteous testimony to a bunch of semieternal truths. 1) Country/roots molds should continue to get busted. 2) Singer Rob Waller and guitarist Paul Lacques have proved you can start something new when you’re not very young, and a goodly number of humans might pick up on it. 3) What would’ve been a major-label act 30 years ago can nevertheless breathe in an indie atmosphere. 4) Talent and persistence will tell.
True as all the Hawks’ four albums have rung (and “Hallowed Ground” ranks as their most complete and satisfying), the recorded form isn’t their biggest strength. On the blind home speakers, occasional peculiarities of subject matter — environmentalism, drug sport, cracked humor — can come off as distractions from country music’s reliable verities. When you see the Hawks live, though, you realize that Waller and the gang are just artists who feel no need to exclude the feelings that hit them deepest, traditional or no.
[click to continue…]
“A superb ensemble with a serious pedigree in California’s roots-rock scene – the band has links to Dave Alvin, Dwight Yoakam and Dillard & Clark – I See Hawks’ work is a timely update of Blasters/Beat Farmers heart-on-sleeve populism. On ‘Hallowed Ground’ singer-songwriter Rob Waller has a great feel for a kind of burned-out, post-apocalypse American landscape evidenced by the sparkling , world-weary ballad ‘Highway Down’, and the percolating ‘Ever Since The Grid Went Down’ (‘I killed a man for batteries’, he sings). ‘Yolo County Airport’, a scorching Chuck Berryesque tale, highlights a very strong effort!”
– Luke Torn, UNCUT Magazine / June 2008
I can’t believe we stopped at the Giant Artichoke but it looks like it’s going to be that kind of day. Artichoke Soup! We Hawks Must have Artichoke Soup! And so we did. Tasty, chunky (Yes Chunky!) artichoke soup. This writer (nay, blogger) was looking for and expecting creamy artichoke soup. When the bowl appeared he was just the slightest bit disappointed, at first. But then he got into it. Carrots, celery, the hearts. This was a hearty, road-side, peasant soup. Artichoke! ARTICHOKE!!
The Giant Artichoke is in Castroville, Artichoke Center Of The World, as the sign spanning its old school main street (aka Highway 183)points out. We are driving from Paul L’s mom’s house in Capitola, heading for the 101, thence 46, thence 5. Home.Yesterday was a bit of a grind, but a good day. We did indeed rise at 7:30 at the Tysons, and saintly Katherine did indeed make us breakfast on only four hours sleep, looking fresh as a daisy, we Hawks looking and feeling not so fresh.
The Tysons are mysterious. We’ve spent many hours with sisters Doran and Stadler. They produced our Motorcycle Mama video and Doran stars as the Beautiful Girl. We’ve stayed many times at the Tyson home in the fields of Yolo and written a song about it on our new CD. We’ve hung, drank, partied. But they remain a mystery. They have inexplicably broad influences and life experiences, from endangered poor white folks situations to deep intellectual explorations. Their bookshelves and hanging art are sophisticated and bold. We will learn more, in time, at the Tysons’ magisterial pace.And at 8:30 on the morning Sunday 15th of June with climbing sun and promises of heat for still sweet smelling summer grass fields, we climb in the Yukon, circle past the ponds and down the gravel road, another gravel road, two lane asphalt through sunflower and alfalfa, County Road 31, farewell fair Winters, to Highway 505, to the 80 west.
[click to continue…]