February 2010

Shoulda Been Gold 2001-2009
I See Hawks in L.A.

Review
by Hal Horowitz

The irony of a working band with no hits, or even a recognizable name, releasing a “greatest-hits” album — let alone one that runs a whopping 79 minutes — is not lost on the founding members of I See Hawks in L.A. Founding members lead vocalist Rob Waller and guitarist Paul Lacques address that anomaly in their wry, witty seven pages of liner notes to this generous 17-track overview of the titular years. The group only released four albums during those nine years, but this career/label-spanning disc packs enough terrific Americana into its playing time to convince any fan of the genre that this group’s music has flown under the radar for too long. It’s impossible not to reference Gram Parsons, not just due to the sun-baked West Coast roots and C&W sensibilities, but because of the soul and subtle humor evident in the groove. Seven songs are previously unreleased, so even those familiar with the Hawks’ catalog will need to add this to their collections, especially since some of the newly recorded tunes, including the title track, are highlights of the collection. Lead singer Waller has an emotional, natural voice that gives these strummy gems a focal point while lifting them to a level out of the reach of less talented singers. Sumptuous harmonies such as those on the closing gospel “The Mystery of Live,” interestingly recorded live, also help these songs soar like the bird in the band’s unusual name. Instrumental guests provide fiddle, pedal steel, and organ that augment the quartet’s sound, and Carla Olson helps on female harmonies for two cuts. Her presence on “Bossier City” reinforces the understated Parsons/Emmylou Harris influence. The humor and bluegrass of “The Salesman” balances more serious material such as “Highway Down,” one of the Hawks’ most intimate and moving songs, and a lost classic in waiting. “Midnight in Orlando” name-checks Disneyland/World with droll lyrics played against a lovely slow Eagles-style melody tinted by sorrowful pedal steel and soulful organ. The energy raises a few notches on the uptempo “Wonder Valley Fight Song,” about as close to rock as this album gets. The disc’s title implies that these tunes should have been, if not gold records, more popular than they were. At the very least, this collection should help establish I See Hawks in L.A. as a journeymen roots act with more than a few tricks, and memorable songs, up its collective sleeve.

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OC Examiner Reviews SBG:

February 9, 2010 · 0 comments

Schwindy’s indie music spotlight: I See Hawks in LA
February 6, 5:38 AM
Orange County Music Examiner
Gary Schwind

While every album is a listening experience (some enjoyable, some forgettable), some albums go beyond something you just listen to. Some albums you need to absorb. Shoulda Been Gold (2001 to 2009) by I See Hawks in LA is one of those albums.

The title of the album is a tongue-in-cheek name for this “greatest hits record that contains no hits.” I see where the band is coming from. This is not a band that writes songs that will shoot up any charts. But make no mistake. These 17 songs are gold, if for no other reason than the fact that there aren’t too many bands like ISHILA anymore. This is an album filled with songs soaked in the Bakersfield sound, with heavy doses of pedal and lap steel guitar. In other words, this is a band that would make Gram Parsons proud.

The band kicks off the album with a song (“Sexy Vacation”) that is bound to get the old toes a-tappin’. From there, the band takes the listener on a journey through songs about free spirits (“Raised by Hippies”), a senator (“Byrd from West Virginia”), and a place known for a particular crop (“Humboldt”). And yes, most of these songs are heavily influenced by the Bakersfield sound. But there is one whose influence comes from much further east. “Laissez les Bons Temps Roulet” is pure ISHILA, but heavily influenced by the music of Louisiana. This song will make you want to spread some salt on the floor to make it easier to move around.

It doesn’t take long to realize that every song on this album is a good story. And that is why you want to…no, need to absorb this album. You need to hear the stories as well as the melodies and harmonies. Do yourself a favor and pick up this album, particularly if you are a fan of Flying Burrito Brothers. I can guarantee two things if you do. First, you won’t feel cheated. This album uses up most of the available space on the disc. Second, you will hear a lot of songs in the vein that sound like they could just as easily have been recorded 40 years ago. And then, when you put the album on, turn the sound up and just absorb the music.

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Americana Music Flourishing in Early 2010
Posted: February 8th, 2010 at 3:40 pm | By: Craig Shelburne

We’re only six weeks into the year and I’ve been pleased with the amount of new Americana music that’s been coming my way. I think my favorite album title so far is Ray Wylie Hubbard’s A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C) and if you listen closely, you might just get some answers from this perceptive Texan. I really like his electrified version of a song he wrote with Hayes Carll, “Drunken Poet’s Dream.” Another cool record I’d recommend is from I See Hawks in L.A., who have just released a compilation called Shoulda Been Gold 2001-2009. Even though I’ve heard their distinctive name for years, it’s the first album I’ve heard by this band. Blending lonesome country with smart lyrics, I now realize I shoulda been paying more attention. Luckily I feel like this solid Gold brings me up to date, even if I am a decade late. At any rate, here’s a sampling of some new Americana music from the last few weeks.

“Drunken Poet’s Dream,” Ray Wylie Hubbard
“Shoulda Been Gold,” I See Hawks in L.A.
“Cumberland,” Randy Kohrs
“Hand of God,” Jason Boesel
“Candice,” Blue Rodeo
“The Day After Everything Changed,” Ellis Paul
“Monday Night,” Barton Carroll
“River Girl,” Zane Williams
“Hearts,” Blair
“Through the Screen Door,” Glossary
“Same Ol’ Feeling,” Joe Swank and the Zen Pirates
“Cold and Lowdown Lonesome Blues,” Blue Highway
“Grandma’s Tattoos,” Bill Emerson and Sweet Dixie
“Alfred,” Gordie Tentrees

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WHO DAT?

February 9, 2010 · 0 comments

Hurray for the scrappy football team from New Orleans. Once hurricaned out of their stadium, they put together talent and hard work, and didn’t even seem to have to rely on or require any luck at all to vanquish the more highly regarded and favored Indianapolis Colts and prime-time product hawker Peyton Manning. Can Drew Brees sell Coca-Cola? Perhaps we’ll get to find out. Perhaps because New Orleans had been so devastated by Katrina, the revelers and celebrants partied kindly, and didn’t set the town on fire or smash the windows of shoe and electronics stores. Come back to New Orleans, ye businessmen, ye conventioneers, ye who still have a weakened, erstwhile mighty, dollar to spend. It’s safe. It’s fun. It’s got great music, cool sights, delicious food…and the Super Bowl Champs!

We were driving south, the morning after the Palms in Winters. Always a stirring place to play. Crowd energy IS all it’s cracked up to be, and sometimes the crowd gives it up. No more so anywhere than when the Palms crowd hears “Well we got a big gig at the Palms in Winters tonight.”   A roar  from the darkness beyond the footlights, and 150 people feel like 10,000. We’re flying into the Yolo County Airport again.

So we were feeling fairly triumphant, cruising in Susan James’s Crouton, wending our way east through orchard and field to the reliable, familiar 5.   And then, just as we made the big turn southward, we felt (well, some of us felt) that Super Bowl Sunday yearning. The biggest game of the year, and not just a game. A thermometer of America. Who will the country get behind–the favorite? The underdog? What about the most expensive and carefully produced TV ads of the year? Shouldn’t we try to get that thrill, to feel that tension, to enjoy the exuberance; in short, shouldn’t we stop somewhere and watch the Super Bowl?

So we cut over to the 99, through Los Banos, all the while calling establishments in Bakersfield on our cell phones. Our requirements: a TV and food. Most of the places we called were closed or closing. A Greek restaurant. A Basque restaurant . Buck’s Crystal Palace. Trout’s has a small TV, but no food. Another has the TV in the bar, but we couldn’t have dinner in there. Finally, we struck paydirt. Goose Loosey’s on 18th. A real sports bar with big TV’s on every wall, and great burgers and Greek cuisine. To top it off, they had a Mardi Gras special running and Mardi Gras decorations all around.

We watched the second quarter, and the third quarter, and, oh yeah, in between those quarters: The Half Time show. Now some old guys can rock. And some grow in interesting ways. And some put the keys a little lower so they can hit the notes. And then, there’s what’s left of the Who. Won’t get fooled again?!?!? Won’t book the Who again. The real meaning behind the line, “I hope I die before I get old” has been revealed. Unfortunately, he didn’t.

HOW GREEN IS YOUR VALLEY?

February 9, 2010

It is day three of our journey. We have traded our tradition of thoughtful and descriptive blogging for the instantaneous tom foolery of the facebook era.  Rob W and Susan James’s gleaming iPhones are passed around among the less tech-current members of the band.  Paul L hogs an iPhone like a two year old with […]

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PARADISE IN THE iPHONE LIGHT

February 6, 2010

Like all things terrestrial, California is at the mercy of weather and its whims. This year the forces have decided to pour rain upon rain upon us, and the hills as we motor north in Susan James’s Volkswagen Routan (rechristened the Crouton) are an explosive psychedelic green. This is the California that intoxicates, seduces, soothes, […]

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No Depression reviews SBG

February 1, 2010

Americana Music Releases for the week of Jan. 26th, 2010 Posted by Bill Frater on January 25, 2010 at 3:34pm I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. – Shoulda Been Gold: 2001-2009 (American Beat) The hawks are a great SoCal harmony-rich band in the tradition of the Springfield and the Burritos… but since they’re not exactly a […]

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Pasadena Weekly Reviews SBG

February 1, 2010

By Bliss I SEE HAWKS IN LA, Shoulda Been Gold: 2001-2009 (American Beat/Collector’s Choice): (4 stars out of 5) “The Hawks abide,” as LA’s critically hailed cosmic rockers affirm in amusing liner notes for this collection of 17 tunes that deserve wider recognition. Previously issued fan faves like their politically irreverent, psychedelic eco-enviro anthem “Humboldt,” […]

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Santa Barbara is on the flight path for country band I See Hawks in L.A.

February 1, 2010

By Bill Locey Posted January 29, 2010 at 12:01 a.m. I See Hawks in L.A. may still be flying under the popular music radar, but they’ve hooked some very high-profile fans. Roots-rock pioneer Dave Alvin, for one, calls the band “one of California’s unique treasures.” I See Hawks in L.A. are heading north to play […]

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Cincinnati City Beat reviews SBG

February 1, 2010

When is a greatest hits album not a greatest hit album? A good indication is when a third of its set list is spiced with songs that are either new or have never been released. But the best sign that the collection you’re spinning isn’t a greatest hits package is when there aren’t any hits. […]

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