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AmericanaUK Reviews “On Our Way” (9/10)

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At turns familiar, jocular, thoughtful and experimental – another great album from one of Americana’s greatest bands.

What can one say about I See Hawks in LA?  It’s customary to reference their indebtedness to Grateful Dead circa ‘American Beauty‘ / ‘Working Man’s Dead‘ – which is a great debt to have.  And it has been noticed before that for a band who enshrine the hippy ideal in song they have a rugged consistency to them – and when that consistency is to be consistently at the top of their musical game then that is no bad thing either.  So, here we are with the band’s tenth album and despite it all – lockdowns, Covid, facetime sessions for songwriting and recording musical parts separately then stitching the together into a glorious whole – it can be safely said that, yes, I See Hawks in LA have done it again and delivered an album destined for best of the year lists.  It’s that dream of an album – where there are song-writing contributions from most of the band (only bassist Paul Marshall doesn’t have a writing credit) and the combination of writing talents compliments rather than jars.

Opener ‘Might’ve been Me‘ takes all those best influences for a song that falls somewhere between bluegrass and folk for a tale of dandelion tea and mysticism, who has entranced another “apprentice” for her magic: – there’s surely devotion to be detected in “She’s the fair and barefoot maiden / In the corner of your eye/ And she gathers stray vibrations from the dead / She says I’m her apprentice / And yesterday she sent me / To gather bitter greens from your backyard“, but it’s not completely clear who for.  A complete change around can be found on ‘Kensington Market‘ which finds drummer Victoria Jacobs wandering in a psychedelic haze through Kensington Market, where she plans to “Get lost in the winding passages / Check out all the crazy people / And take a look around.”  There’s something of a Byrdsian feel to this exploration of a Strange New World, there’s a nod to the Buffalo Springfield too and a huge portion of adopted British Sixties Psychedelia.

Paul Marshall takes lead vocals for ‘Radio Keeps Me on the Ground‘, a co-write with James Combs of Great Willow, a fine chuncking growler of a song, which shuffles around deliciously as it delivers its simple message – listen to your radio, an instruction as old as rock and roll itself.  In these days of pre-programmed DJs it’s maybe harder to find those voices who’ll bring one something more magic than the pre-packaged, but when you find it then it’s something to cling to. ‘Stealing‘ is a double pedal steel dreamy country-rock ballad – with maybe a wider undertone to the softly whispered ‘We gotta learn together now“, because, as the song describes, the world’s going slightly crazy and needs some healing.

The closer is also the longest song on the album, ‘How You Gonna Know?‘ is a hypnotic drone of a song – the reminder that I See Hawks In LA can also go on long and winding excursions to destinations not clearly known.  Each Paul Lacques guitar line, or a drum pattern change can lead the listener off down a different path – and Rob  Waller’s vocals don’t provide an easy to read map as he sings that “Love is a dirty glacier / From which all rivers flow / Flow like silver / Sink into the inevitable / Darkening as it flows / How you gonna know?”  In its unapologetically experimental way it is quite marvellous – one to play over and over in order to divine the deeper meaning.  And man, maybe backwards would help, you know, maybe?

9/10

Goldmine Mag reviews “On Our Way”

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A “Left Coast” indie outfit, I See Hawks in L.A.follows in the tradition of such fabled roots rock pioneers as the Byrd, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Dillards, the Youngbloods, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the other California combos that breached the divide between rock and country in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Led by original founders Rob Waller and Paul Lacques with the additional participation of current mainstays Paul Marshall and Victoria Jacobs, the band still shows the same dedication to their rustic roots some 20 years on. Naturally then, their new album, On Our Way, becomes a perfect mesh of roots and reverence, sturdiness and sentiment as evolved out of the music made by their forebears. They’ve become an Americana institution in their own right, with fiddles, pedal steel and high harmonies evoking images of high desert plateaus, scenic mountain vistas and dusty rural outposts that occupy those sunbaked environs. This time around, elements of psychedelia and surreal intent are infused in the mix, making the new album their most diverse set yet and indeed, a real revelation as well. 

By Lee Zimmerman

Lonesome Highway Reviews “On Our Way”

I See Hawks In L.A. On Our Way

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Looks like we’re on our way to another addition to the band’s already lauded musical cannon with this, their 10th album release. This well established Californian band has been building on their country rock background for quite some time now and exploring elements of that state’s varied musical heritage. As with pretty much everyone who was placed in a lockdown situation, the band had to write and record under all the limitations and opportunities that situation presented. But, happily, this set of new songs sounds no less impressive for all that and is very much in line with their previous albums.

The core members of Rob Waller, Paul Lacques, Paul Marshall and Victoria Jacobs worked on the eleven songs individually, or in various combinations. The next step, after getting the initial recordings down, was to bring in some appropriate guests to enhance the songs. Two notable collaborations are Radio Keeps Me On The Ground that features James and Ed from fellow Californian combo Great Willow (the latter also adding organ to another track) and then Double Nought Spy Car join them for the extended closing eight minute plus How You Gonna Know?  The former is a harmony-laden sing along that offers a thumbs up to the way that radio was something of a lifeline for many. The other song takes an extended groove that collages voices and sounds to ask that in these strange times what and who can be trusted and how you gonna know the truth? The use of synth and wah-wahed guitar over the bass and drum bedrock all add to a slightly unsettling psychedelic sense of displacement and distorted vision. The end result is a band moving forward and delivering something different than might be expected, but something that offers an open door for the band and its next steps without abandoning those alt-country elements for which they are noted. 

The humour and insight that I See Hawks In L.A. are know for is readily apparent throughout the album, as are their vocal and musical skills. Might Have Been Me features Dave Zirbel’s uplifting pedal steel which sets the tone for the song and he does on the other two tracks that he features on. There is a distinct 60’s feel to the title track with its Rickenbacker guitar motif and it also highlights the band’s melodic and poppier side. Know Just What To Do opens with Brantley Kearns abrasive fiddle over some ambient noise before letting the softer side of the song surface. Mississippi Gas Station Blues is one of those gritty blues workouts with a semi-talking vocal from Waller than has similarities in approach to Dave Alvin.

Waller handles most of the lead vocals here with a weathered voice, while Jacobs takes the lead on two tracks. Her song Kensington Market I think is about the famed much-missed London multi-shop emporium. Appropriately it has, again, a 60’s rock feel with 12-string guitar and folky harmonies as well as what sounds like some squiggly keyboards interludes. The second track she features on is the aforementioned recent single Radio Keeps Me On The Ground (Slight Return), joining Waller and Great Willow to give the songs its strong vocal presence. Kentucky Jesus tells of a disillusioned vet. In Geronimo, which is about the famed Native American leader, there is again a more apparent alt-country feel. Stealing and If I Move round out this album with thoughtful lyrics and sold affirmations of the fact that I See Hawks In L.A. are a highly visible presence who ably continue the rich history of California’s rock, country and psychedelic influences. It should also keep them on the way to more fulfilling trip.

Review by Stephen Rapid

Hawks Return to Fall Skunk 2021!

ADVANCE TICKETS

VIDEO PREMIER: “On Our Way”

Thanks to Americana Highways for premiering our new video for “On Our Way”!

“On Our Way” is the title track of our 10th record.  We wrote and recorded the song in the heart of quarantine and even in those dark months it still represented our best hopes that we would soon be on our way back to music, traveling, and each other. The video rolls us down memory lane with some clips from past tour stops in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany — the times and freedom we longed for most during those endless days of confinement. It feels great to release it now as life starts to get back to normal, gigs are returning, and we’re all able to hug each other once again. 

Hawks 10th Record “On Our Way” due August 27th, 2021

I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. RELEASE THEIR TENTH ALBUM,ON OUR WAY, NEW DIRECTIONS SPUN FROM STRANGE TIMES,SET FOR AUGUST 27 RELEASE
WATCH + HEAR NOW: 
Americana Highways premiered the new video of the title track: https://bit.ly/3gQO9BG

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” has earned its hoary immortality in Memeville.

That’s how it was from February 2020 onward. That’s how it hit I See Hawks in L.A., who played their final live show at Ben Vaughn’s Wonder Valley Festival. The evening was charged, Ben and the Hawks (as ISHILA is otherwise known) pushing against the unknown at the edge of the desert night. 

I See Hawks in L.A. — who will release their first post-pandemic album, On Our Way, on August 27, 2021 — tell the rest of story in their own words: 

And then, well you know. Le lockdown. For I See Hawks in L.A., it was disruptive, but we’re drawn to disruption, we create disruption, it’s a creative source, and here it was handed to us writ large by global fate. How do little old us ride this floodwave?   

Well, we dove in, digitally. Without ever playing music together. As was near universal for musicians, reality was the all-embracing screen, vivid cyber images that sang and played drums and guitar. 

Rob Waller and Paul Lacques went on an uncharacteristically locked-in songwriting schedule, , every Friday Facetiming it at the crack of 4 p.m., quite a challenge (you can’t play guitars at the same time) — but also an oasis from chaos. Pure strange joy. We cranked out an album’s worth of songs, with big contributions from drummer Victoria Jacobs. 

Social and eco commentary have always marked our lyrics. This period of genuine global and American crises have made pontificating particularly perilous and delicate. How do you state your views without exploiting genuine suffering? We went historic and oblique, with songs about Geronimo, Muhammad Ali, the Faulknerian dilemma, in language sometimes more abstract and mirroring than narration. (We take some rambles, but there are also classic Hawks two-beats and country rockers about Marin wiccans, London markets, and the [un]certainties of love and broken hearts.) 

Then began the studio game, ProTools trial by error, error in abundance. Why don’t these tracks line up? Can we use an iPhone recording? (Yes.) Rob sends a vocal and guitar. Paul and Victoria cut drums, Paul Marshall cuts bass and vocs. We recut. Okay, sounds like music. We got beautiful guest performances from our compadres Danny McGough, Brantley Kearns, Dave Zirbel, Richie Lawrence, Rich Dembowski and Woody Aplanalp (Old Californio), Joe Berardi, Marcus Watkins and Marc Doten (Double Naught Spy Car), and James Combs and Ed Barguiarena (Great Willow).    

There are always silver linings. A big one for us was the realization that we need music far more than it needs us. Singing and playing, even locked into computer recording, was a life raft. It seems to have gotten us to shore: some hopefully classic vibe Hawks and some new sonic directions born of the limitations and possibilities of the studio only universe.  A lurch into modernity.

I See Hawks in L.A. are Southern California’s leading alt country/Americana/folk rock band.  Noted for their lyrical celebrations of earth and ecosphere, odes to the endless highway, and wry social commentary, they’ve gathered a loyal and global tribe from many U.S. and Europe/UK tours, consistently rave reviews from critics, and a serious presence in the Top 10 of the Freeform American Roots chart, the Americana Chart, and the Euro Americana chart. 

The Hawks were formally spoken into existence in 1999 by Rob Waller and brothers Paul and Anthony Lacques during a philosophical discussion and rock-throwing session on an East Mojave desert trek.   

The miles and songs have launched a never-ending musical dialogue with planet Earth and its strange inhabitants, and brought the Hawks into concert or recording collaborations with Chris Hillman, Lucinda Williams, Dave Alvin, Old 97s, The Mavericks, Peter Case, Gabe Witcher, Bernie Leadon, Meat Puppets, Rick Shea, Lucinda Williams, Dave Alvin, Old 97s, The Mavericks, Peter Case, Gabe Witcher, Bernie Leadon, Meat Puppets, and Ray Wylie Hubbard

ISHILA have headlined at McCabe’s, Old Town School of Folk Music Chicago, Slims (RIP), Joe’s Pub, and Grand Performances (L.A.), where in 2019 they were honored to be house band for a night of global protest songs, and other top national venues. 

Festival appearances:  Stagecoach, Strawberry Festival, Down On The Farm (Halden,  Norway), Maverick Fest (UK), Solas Fest (UK), Belladrum Tartan Heart (UK), Hempfest (Seattle), French Broad River Fest (NC), Earagail Arts Festival (Northern Ireland), Westport Bluegrass Festival (Ireland), Celtic Fusion Fest & Earagail Arts Festival (Ireland), Carter Ranch Fest (CA), Frogtown Artwalk (CA), Humboldt Summer Music And Arts Festival (CA), Cadenberge Festival (Germany), Albino Skunkfest (SC), Silverlake Street Scene (CA), Santa Monica Music Festival (CA), Los Feliz Street Scene (CA) 

“For 17 years and eight albums, the Hawks have expressed ecological concerns, irreverent wit and oft-psychedelic perspective in unequaled and distinctly American music–sort of a rural Steely Dan. The house band for the hippy diaspora deliver another gem.  The finest country rock band on the planet.” —Michael Simmons, MOJO (Top Ten Americana 2018)  

“One of California’s unique treasures.” —Dave Alvin

“I See Hawks In L.A. delivers more timeless twang.” —Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times 
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Americana UK: Something for the (long) weekend: I See Hawks in LA/Great Willow “Radio Keeps Me on the Ground”

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Well that’s a wrap from us for this week dear reader. Enjoy your “stay at home” VE Day celebrations if you’re doing anything, remembering of course that we don’t have to live on the borrowed symbolism of some imagined time when we’ve got heroes in each and every one of our communities right now. We’ll be back on Monday but for this week we’re leaving you with the new collaboration between LA americana legends I See Hawks in LA and Great Willow, who both took up 88.5 KCSN’s Nic Harcourt’s recent #togethertunes invitation and created the terrific song‘Radio Keeps Me On The Ground‘ which you can stream or download from here. Have a good one and stay safe.

>>> Please help to support musicians affected by the coronavirus crisis in the UK by donating £2 a month to us – we’ll send you an exclusive 20 track curated playlist every month plus the opportunity to win tickets and CDs. Click here for more information. 

markamericana

Liverpool, UK

Editor of Americana UK website, the UK’s leading home for americana news and reviews since 2001 (when life was simpler, at least for the first 253 days)

TWANGVILLE: RADIO KEEPS ME ON THE GROUND

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020 BY SHAWN UNDERWOOD 

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If you were born in the last century, radio, not podcasts or downloads, was the soundtrack to your life. That’s the idea behind an interesting collaboration between I See Hawks In LA and Great Willow, both LA bands. Nic Harcourt, DJ at KCSN, one of the epicenters of Americana in southern California, issued a pandemic challenge: collaborate on a song with another band entirely remotely. So with a little Facetiming to solidify the idea, Hawks and Willow members started emailing tracks back and forth until they had a final mix that satisfied everyone. The song is called Radio Keeps Me On the Ground, and if you download it from Bandcamp 25% of the proceeds go to a charity for at-risk Angelenos, the hardest hit community in our state.

About the author:   I’ve actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I’ve seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night. 


FILED UNDER: AMERICANACOUNTRY TAGGED WITH: GREAT WILLOWI SEE HAWKS IN L.A.

Hawks and Great Willow Release Collaborative Single “Radio Keeps Me On The Ground”

 I See Hawks In L.A. & Great Willow release  “Radio Keeps Me On The Ground” acoustic/electric single about coronavirus crisis

May 22 2020

digital only release all streaming & download platforms (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc) 

It started with an invitation from DJ Nic Harcourt at premier L.A. Americana radio station KCSN 88.5 FM:   collaborate on a coronavirus themed song with your musical friends, make healing music for these upended times.  A project called #TogetherTunes              

I See Hawks In L.A. and fellow Los Angeles folkies Great Willow have a longstanding mutual admiration society, and when James Combs of the Willow invited the Hawks to collaborate, they jumped on it.

Writing and recording by email has been interesting.

James and Hawks guitarist/songwriter Paul Lacques traded song ideas and came up with two very different sketches based on Paul’s chorus hook.  Interesting.  Now we had two songs.  Hawks singer/songwriter Rob Waller climbed aboard on a glitchy Facetime session with Paul, wrestling the two versions into verses and bridges, came up with a few more lines, and voila: “Radio Keeps Me On The Ground.” 

What started with lyrics addressing our upended lives turned into a love letter to radio, the constant in our lives pre and post crisis, the magic in the air, the aether, the wide open.

James recorded acoustic guitars and lead vocals, cyber sent his tracks to Paul, who cut his electric and steel, with Hawks drummer Victoria adding drums and vocals, in their Highland Park studio.  Rob and bassist Paul Marshall cut and emailed their tracks, with some sweet organ added by GW’s Ed Barguiarena.   Four time Grammy winner Alfonso Rodenas mixed and mastered.  A classic country rock sound resulted, emerging with soul from its digital realm.  

Just for fun, we did a more ethereal acoustic (Datura version) of the song, resulting in a two song electric/acoustic single.

“Radio Keeps Me On The Ground” addresses the crisis as viewed from our windows and screens, contrasting the limitations of today with the freedom of the road of just yesterday.  But no matter how bombarded we are by the reality of the streets or the info overload of the web we all live by, there’s always radio.  In our backyards or kitchens, it keeps us real. On the ground.

www.iseehawks.com                  contact Paul:        lacques at sonic.net

www.greatwillowmusic.com      
contact James:      jamescombsmusic at me.com

listen now!

RADIO KEEPS ME ON THE GROUND                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lacques/Combs/Waller

It’s never been easier 
To lose your mind
Rabbit holes in the cloud
You don’t even have to try
You don’t have to cry
Or walk on by

Radio keeps me on the ground            
Radio keeps me on the ground

There’s never been a lonelier time
To learn to breathe in a way
That you won’t have to fly
Be fertile in this empty time
This will pass
By and by

 Radio keeps me on the ground
Radio keeps me on the ground

  A stranger’s voice
An invisible wind
Your almost friend
He’s almost you, you’re almost him
Yeah, she’s almost you
You’re almost you
But it’s different
On the road unsigned
Unknown frequencies
A twist of the dial
Unknown frequencies
A twist of the dial                 

Radio keeps me on the ground
Radio keeps me on the ground