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A decidedly and defiantly LA band, the Hawks never shy away from political or environmental statements. Or humor. On their musically accomplished, more-cosmic-folk-than-country fourth album (which namechecks local byways, geographical points and musicmaking pals Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson and Kip Boardman), the wit’s even more cynical — and necessary, to temper the rage fueling “Carbon Dated Love,” “In the Garden,” “Environmental Children of the Future” and grimly amusing “Ever Since the Grid Went Down.” In that context of loving life, nature and land that nurtures it, the heart-tugging title track assumes multiple meanings (“There’s a child and a mortgage sleeping in our bed/ I’m wide awake with these worries in my head”). — Bliss


This band’s secret is idiosyncratically unusual songwriting. Waller and guitarist Paul Lacques write like hip university professors, or post-countercultural novelists, and their lyrics are fascinating and full of provocative ideas, a rarity in rock.

“Yolo Country Airport” is a cool, dramatic song about flying home as potential superstars. “Carbon Dated Love,” an existentialist, epiphanous tale about two hikers becoming one with nature, is a marvel of imagist detail. “Environment Children of the Future,” a ballad, balances sincerity about ecological awareness among young people with a killer “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus. The apocalyptic rocker “Ever Since the Grid Went Down” imagines being forced to live “like an honest man” – it’s meant ironically – in order to survive a societal collapse. A detour into Celtic music is ill-advised and the production by Lacques could be more forceful. But this is one fascinating band.

Standout Tracks: “Carbon Dated Love,” “Ever Since the Grid Went Down” — STEVEN ROSEN

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