by Joe Cortez
I See Hawks in L.A. has been one of the most talked about bands in the Los Angeles indie scene for quite some time now. The band has garnered national attention and even a tour or two in the process, all the while amassing a loyal following in its southland stomping grounds becoming constant fixtures at LA.’s Grand Ole Echo and deservedly so.
Their fourth long player, “Hallowed Ground,” more or less finds the Hawks in a familiar setting: belting out roots and Americana tinged tunes in a consistently upbeat and joyous tone. It’s country in the best sense of the word: unpretentious, honest and direct.
As such, I suspect that there may be some turned off by the idea behind I See Hawks in L.A. But those doing so are denying themselves a most rewarding listening experience. A trip down a road traveled by some of the most versed and talented musicians you are likely to hear on disc all year.
What’s so refreshing about “Hallowed Ground” is that you never once get the impression that the Hawks are ashamed of their chosen genre. The problem with most contemporary country music and the public perception that it entails is the genre seems to be defined by lyrical content rather than song stylings with the most popular balladeers and superstars turning out nothing more than pop songs targeted to a certain demographic, propped up by the occasional steel guitar or Charlie Daniels-esque fiddle in the background. This is most certainly not the case with I See Hawks in L.A. Every track on “Hallowed Ground” drips with a love of traditional American music, infused with an infectiously fun sense of imagination and wordplay.
That’s not to say that songs about getting even with an ex lover by trashing is four wheel drive are any less “country” than the Hawks’ tunes but there is something honest and true found buried deep within. This especially true of the album’s bet tracks, “Pale and Troubled Race,” “Ever Since the Grid Went Down,” and “Never Alive.” To put it simply, “Hallowed Ground” is one of the best albums of the year and I See Hawks in LA. are proof that great country music can be found in every part of this land of ours… even Echo Park. For more info visit www.iseehawks.com.