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Not even the seasoned writers at trend-setting country-rock magazine No Depression can tell that much about the boys hiding behind the cryptical name of I See Hawks In L.A. This does not stop them from already making comparisons with Gram Parsons (!).

One thing for sure, though:

This is the best band in the Byrds-genre in a very long time. I have listened to the harsh branch of country-rock, called Americana, for quite some time and I haven’t come across anything like it since Jayhawks put out “Hollywood Townhall” in 1992. Or let me put it this way, since Ryan Adams was good for real, namely the time around “Heartbreaker”.

We get a heavy dose of everything that turned several generations on to a genre created by Gram Parsons, The Byrds and The Band. Irresistable harmonies, an exact yet laid-back country groove, touching lyrics and mood swings and jangling guitars at exactly the right places. No wonder that Chris Hillman, the ex-Byrd, agreed to take part in this record. Hillman, who by the way could be heard on “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo”, is having a fine old time again. You can easily understand why.

The band is also politically aware for real. The homepage reveals a strong political engagement and the songs deal with social conflicts, gamble abuse and panic in Disneyland. Robert Byrd, The Senator of West Virginia, is hailed, among other things for his criticism of the war in Iraq, fully aware of that his intire career as a politician is in danger.

“California Country” is a complete album, the best of its genre right now. Unless this band gets decent distribution in Sweden and Europe, it’s a tragedy.

Jörgen Boman / 2007-05-19