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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

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.

Americana UK reviews “Hawks with Good Intentions”

by Paul Kerr
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California’s I See Hawks In L.A. and Liverpool’s Good Intentions met and became friends at a house concert in California back in 2012. Since then, the bands have shared stages in the States and here in the UK and along the way they began writing some songs together, the first fruits of their joint effort displayed on the Hawks’ last album, ‘Live And Never Learn‘, which had two songs co-written with Peter Davies of Good Intentions. Bouncing emails and mp3 files across the Atlantic they eventually came up with the ten songs on display here, sections recorded in L.A. and Liverpool with each of the bands’ contributions stitched together so well that the join is never seen. As it says on the sleeve, “Gleaming technology serving acoustic guitars and down home harmonies.”

It’s primarily an acoustic album with drums on only one song and some spare lap and slide guitar from Paul Lacques present. Lead vocals are shared between Davies and the Hawks’ Rob Waller and Victoria Jacobs while the other member of Good Intentions, Gabrielle Monk, weighs in on backing vocals. As such, it’s a collection which is finely laidback as various guitars strum and harmonies float reminding one of the “wooden music” side of CSN&Y or the more blissed out moments of the good ole’ Grateful Dead along with a sprinkling of acts such as The Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Loggins & Messina. Writing in various permutations with Waller, Lacques and Jacobs, Davies has a hand in all but one song and it’s his voice which opens the album on ‘Blue Heaven‘, a sun dappled slice of nostalgia laden with harmonies and sly Dobro, the kind of song which could accompany faded home movies of flower children celebrating. Waller takes the reins for the following western themed ‘Things Like This‘, a taut Larry McMurtry like murder tale which skittles along like tumbleweed before Weller and Davies swap their contrasting lead vocals on ‘Rolling The Boxcars‘, a gambling song with the protagonists always on the losing end with the song delivered as if all were singing around a late night campfire.

Plenty to admire then in this opening triumvirate which showcases the strengths of both ends of this collaboration. But there’s much more to come as the combo accommodate the folkier side of Davies on the Tom Paxton like ‘Rambling Girl‘ (with The Punch Brothers’ Gabe Whitcher on fiddle) and then  allow Waller to deliver the excellent railroad chug of ‘Steel Rails‘. ‘White Cross‘, one of the songs which appeared on ‘Live And Never Learn‘, remains as sinewy as the original while ‘Flying Now‘ finds Davies down on his luck but ever hopeful on a song which recalls the late Ronnie Lane especially with its accordion accompaniment from Richie Lawrence. ‘Epiphany On Town Hall Square‘, while fitting well into its surroundings in terms of its delivery, is somewhat odd, bearing as it does, echoes of a Christmas carol in its setting but the closing ‘Will You Watch Over Me‘, the one song written solely by Lacques and Waller, is bang in the Hawks canon as it gently rolls along with rippling guitar accompaniment  invoking a greater spirit.

Collaborations can often be tricky affairs but it feels safe to say that on this occasion fans of either band will be satisfied by ‘Hawks With Good Intentions’. It simply  radiates good vibes as these transatlantic cousins find common cause.

Hands Across The Water

7/10

AMERICANA UK LIVE REVIEW: HAWKS LONDON SHOW AT THE GREEN NOTE

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I See Hawks In LA, The Green Note, London, 19th July 2018

Posted on July 23, 2018

I See Hawks In LA opened their extensive UK tour with this sold out performance at London’s Green Note, and were in fine form. Playing as a four piece and “acoustic” with Paul Lacques on lead guitar, Victoria Jacobs on snare drum and tiny cymbal, Rob Waller on guitar and lead vocals and Paul Marshall the one exception to the acoustic rule by playing electric bass. They began their first set with a song that really tells you all you need to know about I See Hawks In LA – ‘Raised by Hippies‘.

It’s a celebration of a woman who was born on an old school bus after the Summer Of Love, and who, despite going out into the world when older, is never broken down by the constraints of the world to abandon a faith in what’s important in life – people, love, caring.  Sounds heavy – but it isn’t; it’s beautifully crafted, like all I See Hawks In LA songs, there’s a common clinging to a world view that is about more than greed and spite. And if there’s something wrong with that then we’ll need a written counter-argument with diagrams. It’s not a naive song – Rob Waller acknowledges that the parents “did some things wrong” before adding “but they raised their children right / and they did it for a song“. It’s a sentiment that reappears on ‘Tearing me in too‘ which Rob wryly introduces as being about those feelings “when you’re out on the road playing music – but you miss your family, although sometimes you’re with your children and….you really want to be playing music.” The eternal dichotomy of dual loves. It’s a song, like many others, that is taken from the band’s new album ‘Live and Never Learn‘ – which is another excellent collection.

All through the set Paul Lacques adds wonderful guitar solos that lift lightly from the ground, whilst Paul Marshall keeps everything grounded with his discretely interjecting bass and Victoria Jacobs performs literal miracles of brushed drumming with her instrument – one can’t really raise a single snare to the heady heights of being a drum kit. Despite all this, there are occasional claims in the first set of moments of synchronised jet lag – the Hawks had only landed in the UK the day before – and these claims are repeated in the interval as the band hang-out and chat relaxedly with the audience. But if this is truly I See Hawks In LA slightly sub-par then no-one but the band could tell. The first set had slipped by in a dreamy flash, with a glorious ‘I Fell in Love with the Grateful Dead‘ closing it out. It’s a great song of a Dead-Head’s adventures, taking to the trail and following Gerry and the band across the States and on to Europe. It’s not nostalgia – it’s just the retelling of a great musical quest, vegetarian food and the bonds of friendship in a loose community.

There’s a similar feeling of a happy retelling on ‘Good andFoolish Times’ which jounces along like a battered vehicle driven just a little too fast down a dusty side road as Rob Waller sings “Didn’t we have some good times ? / some good and foolish times ? / Didn’t we have some good and foolish times ? / Didn’t we take some long rides / some long and winding rides?” and the band harmonise behind him.

The second set was geared a little more towards the higher tempo and rocky reaches of I See Hawks In LA output. ‘Humboldt‘ is a road trip for not strictly legal purposes song which pounds along down the freeways with Paul Laques’ guitar just burning higher and higher. If this was a fist-pumping audience then fists would have been pumped. There’s a swinging ‘Live and Never Learn‘ which beats along like a train down a track whilst pointing out how unlikely it is that unthinking and foolish behaviour will ever stop being foolish and unthinking. Ultimately the futility is self-deprecatingly spelt out: “every slight, every way I treated her unkind, every promise I knew I’d break, every friend looks the other way, every leap I never took”.

In the first set ‘California Country‘ had been virtually a description of the sound of I See Hawks In LA – there’s country in the mix but it’s really country influenced rock, steering tonight towards an acoustic set from that inspiring band The Grateful Dead. There’s the same kind of mix of lyrical wonder and the really small parts of life that are maybe the most important parts as well. It’s not, though, the totality of their sound – Paul Marshall took lead vocal duties for a straight country ballad ‘Truth is – you lied‘ whilst Rob and Victoria take call and response turns to tell the story of a bad car crash on the folky meets soul ‘My parka‘. This is a song that gets laughs – especially when Rob Waller’s fantasy that the liquor store owning drunk driver who hit Victoria Jacobs is struck with remorse and hands out free booze to her “all through high school.” This is slapped down with “hey Bob, that never happened.” This, though, is not the heart of the song, amusing as it is, but this is the true nugget: “my parents came to the Emergency Room and when they took my parka off chunks of glass fell out onto the floor / and my Dad burst into tears…and that’s when I knew he loved me.” Heart and family.

Wry humour, great music, unabashed joy of living, lovely harmony singing, foolishness, environmental concerns and the hazards of love – the upsides and the downsides of caring about someone. That’s what a couple of hours in the company of I See Hawks In LA is about. They have a long road ahead of them in July and August; it’s doubtful if they’ll reach the end with any T-Shirts or CDs left; they may even be a bit more battered – but triumphant as well. There is surely no better time to get out and see I See Hawks In LA.

Author: Jonathan Aird

Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan’s music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That’s not much to ask, is it?

COUNTRY STANDARD TIME REVIEWS “LIVE AND NEVER LEARN”

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Reviewed by Jim Hynes

This is the storied, rather unheralded band I See Hawks in LA’s first release since 2013’s “Mystery Drug.” “Live and Never Learn” continues the legacy of a band that’s been together for almost two decades now. They channel Gram Parsons, New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Byrds/Burritos into their singular brand of psychedelic country rock with the superb lead vocals of Rob Waller, capable players in the core lineup as well as guests. Among the guests are: Dave Zirbel (Commander Cody) on pedal steel, Dave Markowitz on fiddle and Richie Lawrence on accordion and piano. Together, they flush out a laid-back hippy vibe, the hallmark of ISHILA’s sound.

Emerging from a string of family deaths, California wild fires and various struggles, the band found some solace in finally being able to record again. The songwriting team of Rob Waller and Paul Jacques receives contributions from bassist Paul Marshall and drummer Victoria Jacobs on this outing. Members of Old Californio deliver “King of the Rosemead Boogie” and via email form Peter Davies of the U.K.’s Good Intentions we have “White Cross” and “Singing in the Wind.” The latter takes us to the shores of Northern Ireland. Jacobs sings on her psychedelic folk oriented “Spinning” and recounts a tragic tale from the winter on Lake Michigan in “My Parka Saved Me.”

“Last Man in Tujunga” is native territory as the story unfolds about a breakup conversation over a cell phone as the flames from a fire draw nearer. Although the song was written years ago, it is frighteningly timely as Marshall was forced to evacuate his home in the recent fires twice – lyrically stated as “almost out of minutes” as the “flames were licking at the gates.”

The band has long been noted for its sense of humor which we hear on the self-pitying “Poour Me,” their requisite ode to weed in “Stoned with Melissa” and their interest in conservation with “Planet Earth” and “Ballad for the Trees.” Markowitz’s fiddle and Lawrence’s accordion drive both “Isolation Mountains” and “Tearing Me in Two,” both outstanding tracks.

I See Hawks in LA are consistent with terrific story songs and solid musicianship. After the hiatus, they sound as good as ever, maybe even a little better

ROOTSTIME (NETHERLANDS) REVIEW “LIVE AND NEVER LEARN”

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September 11, 2001 … a day that none of us will soon forget. It was also the day when I See Hawks in L.A. released their eponymous debut to the world and immediately conquered the hearts of everyone who liked roots music. The fact that Dave Alvin took part in it was an argument to open many doors, just like the presence of fiddler Brantley Kearns: a band that gets that ready at its debut, which is going to follow as a matter of course and that’s what we did, certainly when they also brought Chris Hillmann Cody Bryant and Rick Shea into the studio for “California Country”.

Over the years the group expanded and today you have as base the four Rob Waller (guitar and lead vocals, Paul Lacques (guitar, lap steel and vocals), Paul Marshall (bass and vocals) and Victoria Jacobs (drums, guitar and vocals), which is complemented with Richie Lawrence (accordion and piano), Dave Markowitz (fiddle), Danny McGough (keys) and Dave Zirbel (pedal steel guitar) on four tracks, four vocalists and three songwriters in the band. is a great luxury and that shows once again on this first new CD in over five years: most of the songs come from the pins of the tandem Waller / Lacques, but drummer Victoria Jacobs also contributes with her “Spinning”, a wonderful piece of psychedelic folk and the story behind her “My Parka Saved Me”: she speaks the story and the other band members make it a great country rock song, larded with the most fantastic doo-wop background vocals and a Hammond party w we are very quiet of you.

Just like on their previous records, the Hawks again have the necessary attention for nature (“Planet Earth” and “Ballad for the Trees”), but where this album is mainly distinguished from earlier work – besides the fact that there is a Striking a couple of times and becoming boogie-d (“King if the Rosemead Boogie” tears away quite a bit) – the conclusion that the Hawks have been able to process the far-reaching events that they experienced. The five years between the previous record and this new one, after all, were the time in which Rob Waller lost his mother to cancer and Paul Lacque even lost both his parents. Most of the songs on this album were written in those days of those events and you can hear that.

The quality of the Hawks songs is top class as ever, but the effect – even the mixing is excellent – and the orchestration is nowhere less than sublime. That is probably best expressed in “White Cross” and “Singing in the Wind”. , two songs, that Waller and Lacques wrote together with UK’er Peter Davies, of The Good Intentions and in “The Last Man in Tujunga”, a story about a relationship that is broken by phone at the moment the forest fires keep on come closer. The fact that Bassist Paul Marshall had to evacuate his house twice during last year’s forest fires adds an extra cachet to this impressive and rocking song.

The Hawks will gradually be tired of the comparison with The Eagles, but you can not ignore them: these gentlemen belong in the line that is led by that band and that the co-country rock kept for eternity, although they may part also have a label “approved by Dave Alvin” on the cover. This album is great: watch the specialized charts next month: they will score very high, for sure!

(Dani Heyvaert)