Reviews

I SEE HAWKS IN L.A.: MYSTERY DRUG

November 12th, 2013 ·


Viola Tada

I See Hawks in L.A.
Mystery Drug
Western Seeds

For all the references to Gram Parsons these guys get—and for all the references to Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt they should get—I gotta put I See Hawks on this seventh album somewhere closer to Terry Allen or Warren Zevon. Hawks are literary, even though they use small words—actually cuz they use small words—and they’re at their best when they put pedal steel to short stories or sometimes just a few irreducible lines. For one example: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Cymbal From The Seventies” is about what it means to love things that are gently used, and of course they truly spell it “symbol.” But my favorites are some of the slow and sad ones on an album that’s one power-pop song (Nick Lowe-y “Local Merchants”) and about half slow and sad ones. Like the title track with lyrics that make me think of plenty of parts from Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, or “If You Remind Me,” which reminds me of Roky Erickson’s damaged “Clear Night For Love” country rock era, in which he retreated to simpler softer music probably cuz he wanted a simpler softer life. And my very favorite is “We Could All Be In Laughlin Tonight,” with the funny-but-not-funny lines about how much the Skynyrd tribute gig pays and the closer “pay the money and turn off the light / jump off the cliff and turn right.” The Hawks song that will get me forever is “Turn That Airplane Around,” and “Laughlin” isn’t that—who could handle two of those? But in “Laughlin” there’s that same sense of life and its limits, and how it feels when you feel those limits getting closer. That’s what I hear from Zevon and Allen, that’s what I read in Charles Portis, and what I think I See Hawks sees, too.
Chris Ziegler

I See Hawks in L.A. are California Country Rock gentlemen. They have a literary sense to their songs that equals American writers from the South (Faulkner), the West (Twain, O. Henry) and the East (Poe). Their music reflects the moods and emotions of the songs characters as much as the men behind the curtain that pulling the strings and writing the words. Mystery Drugs has an uplifting mood stitched into the album fabric as it describes the life of an aging pirate in the title track, a chance meeting with a major musical score (Rock’n’Roll Cymbal from the 70’s) and flows majestically  (“The River Knows”).
I See Hawks in L.A. follow psychedelic tradition by not following sound rules and regulations. The Hawks are a rock band with a Roots accent. Their songs are vignettes again using psychedelic rock as stage settings.  A cowpunk essay on commerce as love (“My Local Merhcants”), a classic country take on a classic rock event (“We Could All Be in Laughlin Tonight”) and a heavenly choir back-up for a diatribe on driving the 405 at 6 o’clock (“Stop Driving Like An Asshole”) all share Mystery Drugs. I See Hawks in L.A. remind us of the romance of the American West. “Sky Island” follows a San Joaquin daughter as she heads down the 99 for freedom and “Oklahoma’s Going Dry” looks through the dust and Commanche ghosts to try and locate the river that run blue, then red.  Memories follow a young San Franciscan couple through The Mission and watch as the snow falls outside through the windows of a Tahoe casino in “If You Remind”. The track opens Mystery Drugs and will immediately remind you that it is way too long between I See Hawks in L.A. releases.
Listen and buy the music of I See Hawks in L.A. from AMAZON or iTunes

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by  in Alt-CountryAmericanaCountryReviews

The bright orange celestial flame that starts out in Santa Monica so clear and defining of Southern California becomes  a dull rust glaring off the mix of smog and sooty bumpers by the time you get to San Bernardino.  While the lucky few stroll with the kids and dog through the manicured streets of Pali, the vast majority of Angelenos are commuting to the weekend.  Escape means a liquor soaked Saturday night at the craps table in Sin City or 2 1/2 days with the family in an overpriced Lake rental last remodeled in 1982, wondering what happened to the dream.  If the Eagles in their Hotel California heyday represented the picture everyone believed, I See Hawks In L.A document the reality of the 99%, set to a soundtrack of weeping guitars and three part harmonies.

Their seventh album, Mystery Drug, follows a theme they’re adept at producing.  It’s a mix of reality TV stories culled from their own lives and elevated love songs imbued with a thread of melancholy.  In the former category the winner on this record is no doubt We Could All Be In Laughlin Tonight.  If you ever wanted to know the story of how a musician pays his dues, here it is in 4 minutes and 8 seconds.  There’s also Rock ‘n’ Roll Cymbal From the Seventies that captures the mindset of collectors everywhere.  And I have to give a shout out to my wife’s new favorite song, Stop Driving Like An Asshole: “you’re an accident waiting to happen/a flipped over SUV/on the 405 at 6 o’clock/your carcass on TV”.

MD_Cover

In the latter category is Yesterday’s Coffee, a bittersweet melody about getting to the point where you just hope “good enough” will bring her back.  If You Remind Me is a love story that starts with kids on a bike and goes a lifetime to the point when love and friendship is indistinguishable.  The opening cut, Oklahoma’s Going Dry isn’t a love song in the traditional sense, but rather one of our ancestors loving what we’ve now destroyed.

The Hawks are an L.A. country rock band, in an era that doesn’t have many of those left.  You can argue country rock started in the 70′s with the hippies in the canyons west of Los Angeles high on nature and homegrown weed.  Today it’s more aligned with a struggling middle class in the eastern suburbs where meth is the cheapest option.  But we’re an irrepressible lot and we take our victories where we find them.  I See Hawks In L.A. seem to know that, and with their harmonies and story-telling it’s easy to listen to a few of the tunes on Mystery Drug and find yourself with a nice little high.

 

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by John Collison

I See Hawks in LA’s newest release Mystery Drug is an outstanding collection of songs continuing the veteran Los Angeles group’s brand of traditional country music.  Thirteen tunes explore urban, rural and personal themes that capture Southern California’scontradicting cultures and landscapes.  Mystery Drug takes effect within the first three notes of the album’s opening track Oklahoma’s Going Dry; Rob Waller’s warm, comforting voice and Rick Shea’s  pedal steel guitar ease the mind and comfort the soul.  I See Hawks’ seventh release marks a return to electric music after 2012’s acoustic New Kind of Lonely.  Waller’s and Paul Lacques’ blend of acoustic and electric guitars and harmonies are seamless, creating rich sonic textures adorned with pedal steel and accordion.  If You Remind Me, Mystery Drug and Yesterday’s Coffee are introspective reaches into the psyche of love, acceptance and existence.  Beauty of the Better States, Rock and Roll Cymbal From the Seventies and My Local Merchants are dedicated rockers.  The latter song hints that I See Hawks and Mystery Drug could be a co-op with no less than nine musicians, including Lacques’ brother Anthony and wife Victoria Jacobs, complementing the band’s core membership of Waller, Lacques and veteran bassist Paul Marshall (Strawberry Alarm Clock).   Mystery Drug elicits a chortle withStop Driving Like an Asshole, a ditty that takes karmic joy in the accident of a speeding SUV-  “And the angels did sing: sha la la la, he drove like an asshole.” This song is the frosting on this album’s cake.   Mystery Drug is no mystery; it is the soulfulness of a veteran band performing their finest music.

I See Hawks in LA recently returned from an 8-week tour of Europe and a string of shows along the west coast.  They will perform at McCabe’s Guitar shop on Sunday, August 18 as part of a release party for Mystery Drug. If you are fan of roots, traditional country, or Flying Burrito Brothers/Graham Parsons, you should not miss this show.

Mystery Drug is available on itunes and directly from the I See Hawks in LA website.  McCabe’s Guitar Shop is located at 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

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Maverick gives Mystery Drug 5 Stars

July 17, 2013
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Psychedelic country rockers I See Hawks In L.A. announce the birth of a new CD, Mystery Drug

June 12, 2013

 link to article New and old Hawks listeners will be struck by the chances taken in this latest phase of the Hawks journey – mixing serious country cred (members have played with Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, John Denver, Hazel and Alice, and in every honky-tonk from Mississippi to Malibu) with wild lyricism and surreal story […]

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Whisperinandhollerin Reviews MYSTERY DRUG

May 11, 2013

link to full article   ‘Mystery Drug’-  Label: ‘Blue Rose’ –  Genre: ‘Alt/Country’ –  Release Date: ‘1st May 2013’-  Catalogue No: ‘BLUDP0611’ Our Rating:           I See Hawks In L.A. are a group of psychedelic country rockers that formed way back in 1999, and this is their seventh release.There are several different vibes going on in […]

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