January 2010

By William Michael Smith in Lonesome Onry and Mean
Tue., Jan. 26 2010 @ 1:30PM

I See Hawks in L.A. are perennial roots-rock favorites in Southern California. Their Shoulda Been Gold 2001-2009 compilation on new Collector’s Choice Americana imprint American Beat Records drops today and covers some of their most well known work like “Humboldt,” one of the best odes to the sweet leaf ever written. Five of the 17 tracks are from 2004’s hard-to-find Grapevine, the album that put the Hawks firmly on the alt-country map.

Shoulda Been Gold contains new material as good as anything the Hawks have ever done. The band has been playing “Sexy Vacation” for years, and this one just builds and builds with that rare-air psychedelic country power that has always been a Hawks trademark. “Shoulda Been Gold” was written specifically for the album, and it has the Hawks’ trademark end-is-near late-night feel.

Another fresh track, and a true highlight, is a cover of David Allan Coe’s minor classic “Bossier City,” which features a soulful duet with former Austinite Carla Olson (Textones). This one has been in regular rotation in Lonesome Onry and Mean’s truck the past month, which is always our supreme test.

Link to full article here.

By Mike Berick on January 26th, 2010
Three Stars. The popular Los Angeles band I See Hawks has released four CDs to critical praise but received little recognition at large; however, this self-described “greatest non-hits” collection should improve on their current cult status.

This expansive 17-song set of album tracks, unreleased material and new tunes showcases I See Hawk’s harmony-rich, sun-baked sound, which evokes the laidback ‘70s SoCal country-rock of Poco, latter-day Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. The road-trippy “Texarkanda” embodies the Burritos’ comic Americana vibe, while they transform David Allen Coe’s “Bossier City,” a new duet with Carla Olson, into a Parsons/Harris ballad.

Behind Rob Waller’s easy-going California twang, Paul Lacques’ nimble guitar picking and a trunk-load of pedal steels, mandolins and fiddles, ISHILA takes listeners on an Americana travelogue, from their home state (“Grapevine,” “Wonder Valley Fight Song” and “Humboldt”) and across America (“Laissez Les Bon Temp Roulet,” “Hope Against Hope,” and “Midnight In Orlando”). The band’s interest in U.S. history and politics, meanwhile, surfaces in selections like “Raised By Hippies” and “Byrd From West Virginia,” an ode to the longtime Virginia senator.

This disc might not uncover “shoulda been gold” tunes but it does hold enough nuggets to make this an excellent primer for a band worthy of more attention.

Link to full article.

Hey Folks,
Here’s a link to where you can listen to full length stream of all the songs off “Shoulda Been Gold” Enjoy!

Click here

Crawdaddy Reviews SBG

January 25, 2010 · 0 comments

by j. poet

I See Hawks in LA
Shoulda Been Gold
(American Beat, 2010)

It’s hard to write about California country without mentioning Gram Parsons, so let’s get that out of the way early on. I See Hawks in LA probably wouldn’t exist if Parsons didn’t open up the minds of hippies and rockers to the joys of traditional country music. That being said, their sound owes little to Parsons’ brand of cosmic country. I See Hawks can play hardcore honky tonk with the best of them, but that’s only part of their appeal. Their hard-to-pigeonhole sound also has a firm grasp on folk, blues, psychedelia, Cajun, bluegrass, and other strains of roots/Americana, but what really sets them apart is their politically astute, left-leaning, eco-friendly lyrics, and humor.

The Hawks have released four albums on small indie labels. Many of them are hard to find as the new decade dawns, so this “greatest hits” collection on Collector’s Choice’s new Americana subdivision makes good sense. It collects 10 tracks cut between 2000 and 2009—including half of the tunes from 2004’s Grapevine, maybe their most potent release—and seven songs that see the light of day for the first time here. Three of them were recorded specially for this CD, including “Bossier City” and “Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulet”—both feature harmony vocals from Carla Olson, former Textone leader and a gal who knows her country.

Rob Waller sings lead and plays acoustic rhythm guitar. Paul Lacques shreds on all kinds of guitars in any style you want to mention. He also sings and plays Dobro and lap steel. Paul Marshall plays bass and adds the third voice to the harmonies, and Shawn Nourse is the drummer. The Hawks are a cohesive quartet, but it’s Lacques on guitar and Waller’s singing that make them a force to be reckoned with. Waller is a great vocalist and easily brings the band’s two main influences together in his singing. “Soul Power”, a previously unreleased rocker, shows off Waller’s gritty side. It’s a straightforward blues-rock tune with a relentless rhythm and Allman Brothers-style guitar harmonies supplied by guest picker Marcus Watkins. Waller delivers the sexual lyrics—“We’ve got the power of nature underneath our clothes”—with a perfect balance of swagger and sincerity. “Bossier City”, a goodbye to a faithless lover, likens the end of a relationship to the end of summer, with a chilly pedal steel solo and Olson’s harmonies adding to the forlorn aura. “Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulet” is the other side of the coin, a celebration of a lasting relationship, with Olson turning up the heat on her vocal part. The fractured French of the chorus and the added fiddle and accordion give the number a vaguely Cajun feel. The portrait of lovers growing old together is presented without the cloying sentimentality that often mars songs of this type.

“Sexy Vacation” is a more straightforward, Cajun-flavored two-step, another song about a failed relationship with great harmonies, a lively solo from Lacques, and sharp, snarky lyrics like, “The road to hell is paved with heavenly delights.” “Shoulda Been Gold” is a sunshine-drenched California country tune that suggests the Beach Boys, although it sounds very little like them. The poignant harmonies and pedal steel paint a melancholy picture of broken hearts still dreaming of the good times. The demo of “I See Hawks in LA” is from the band’s first recording session in 2000. It’s a lonesome country blues song with a lap steel solo as empty as a midnight sky. “Mystery of Fife” is a secular spiritual that was cut live in 2004. There’s bare-bones guitar and fiddle on the track, but it’s the three-part gospel harmonies that make this one a keeper.

The 10 oldies here were all hits to Hawks fans, and hopefully this release will get them some much-deserved recognition. The ecological lament “Hope Against Hope” is a countrified folk song and promises to keep fighting for the preservation of the planet; a weary lap steel adds touching accents to Waller’s distressed vocal. “Byrd from West Virginia” is a folk ballad about Robert Byrd, the conservative senator from West Virginia who was in the KKK as a young man, but wound up opposed to the Iraq War and voted for health care reform as a tribute to his friend Ed Kennedy. It’s a complex tune and a reminder that liberals don’t have a monopoly on integrity.

“Humboldt” is a moody psychedelic rocker, and a salute to the pot growers of Northern California. “Raised by Hippies” is a bouncy, country-rock tune about unrepentant hippies, and “Wonder Valley Fight Song” is a funky rocker full of dystopian visions of small town living. The Hawks show off their bluegrass chops on “The Salesman”, which features the banjo of pal Cody Byrant. The salesman of the title could be Jesus or the devil, trying to sell the capitalist dream to people already lulled into a coma by over-consumption, while “Grapevine Texarkanada” is a quiet mid-tempo ballad that takes its name from a notorious stretch of road in California known for multi-car pile ups brought about by heavy fog. Beautiful harmonies and Lacques’ subtle, twang-heavy lead give it a dreamy, laid-back feel.

The band’s literate-leaning lyrics may have some thinking that they are a bit too pretentious to be a real country band. But storytelling has always been part of the cowboy tradition, and California has always been friendly to mavericks, from the twang of Buck and Merle’s Bakersfield to the shredding cowpunk of Tex and the Horseheads. With their glistening harmonies, sharp songwriting, and a cosmic outlook that stays rooted in the tumbleweeds and Joshua trees, I See Hawks in LA fits right into the Golden State’s noble country lineage.

Listen: Various Tracks [at myspace.com]

Link to article

HIgh Noon Saloon Reviews SBG

January 25, 2010

A decade after their formation on a front porch in a neighbouring LA suburb, and country-rock outfit I See Hawks in L.A. take a moment to reflect on their achievements, and err…. the public’s failure to recognise a hit song when they hear one. Wryly titled, Shoulda Been Gold is a retrospective of sorts, taking […]

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L.A. Daily News Reviews SBG

January 25, 2010

“Shoulda Been Gold 2001-2009″ I See Hawks In L.A. American Beat Records 4 stars Not merely the ironic best-of collection its title implies, this latest from our town’s most authentic, underappreciated country rock band features, along with selected non-hits, new songs, never-before-released cuts (including a beautiful lost love ballad called, well, “Shoulda Been Gold”) and […]

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LA Record Interview: We Will All Die Happy

January 25, 2010

Before this interview, I See Hawks in L.A. and L.A. RECORD co-founded the Four Guys for Peace organization, which is dedicated to promoting friendship and brotherhood worldwide by combining strangers with beers. The first meeting was held in Union Station. I See Hawks are marking their tenth anniversary as a band—as the band which spent […]

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Twangville Reviews SBG

January 25, 2010

Imagine if Graham Parsons had hooked up with Grace Slick instead of Emmylou, and one of their offspring had moved out to Joshua Tree for a decade or so, then formed a band with a couple of his friends. The real story of how I See Hawks In L.A. came into being is less, well, […]

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OC Weekly Q&A: Rob Waller of I See Hawks in L.A. on New Album and Dealing with Meth Heads in Wyoming

January 25, 2010

By Wade Tatangelo in Q&AsWed., Jan. 20 2010 @ 3:00PM I See Hawks in L.A. have spent the past decade making stirring alt-country with a 1960s-era California sensibility marked by influences like the Byrds, Merle Haggard​ and Buck Owens. The LA-based band enjoys a loyal following on both sides of the Atlantic and have garnered […]

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OC Weekly Pick

January 25, 2010

Never mind their clear-as-country-water name. Formed by Rob Waller and brothers Paul and Anthony Lacques, I See Hawks in L.A. was established on an Echo Park front porch in 2000. Now, four albums into their music making career and garnering attention from publications such as SPIN, USA Today, and Village Voice. The band is on […]

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