Release Date: Jun 2, 2015
Record label: Hub Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
WELCOME TO the Hotel California, four decades later. The characters and conversations in the stunning new songs by Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes all seem to haunt the halls that the Eagles made iconic. In “Somewhere Along the Way,” Goldsmith pinpoints that place where “the dream and the circumstance continue their tortured dance.” In “I Can’t Think About It Now,” he exposes “the pact between the writer and the star,” while in “Waiting for Your Call” he speaks of “the charms and riches that do not seem to last.” However familiar this L.A.
At the start of Dawes' fourth studio effort, 2015's All Your Favorite Bands, lead singer Taylor Goldsmith kicks off the sanguine opener "Things Happen" by admitting "I could go on talking, or I could stop/Wring out each memory til I get every drop. " This sentiment, ripe with a post-breakup emotional stew of yearning, anger, and eventual acceptance, colors all the tracks on this tight, impeccably crafted album. Influenced by the passionate '70s country-rock and singer/songwriter sound of artists like Jackson Browne and groups like the Band, Los Angeles' Dawes have quietly built a loyal following with their own brand of memorable and often poignant folk-rock.
Dawes is a band that has been slowly and steadily building up rapport with the folk-rock scene since its 2009 debut, North Hills. They’re a tight four-piece act driven by soothing harmonies and rootsy rhythms, yet with each release they’ve found a way to switch up the formula and create biting, emotional journeys for the listener. All Your Favorite Bands is no different in that aspect; the album traverses the woes of post-break-up life—the highs, the lows and the confusion that comes with them.
DawesAll Your Favorite Bands(HUB Records)Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Don’t judge a book by its cover – or an album by its lead single. Released two months ahead of Dawes’ fourth record, “Things Happen” sounds like a harbinger of major changes to come. The drums are muted, as though they’ve been draped with towels to muffle their punch. The electric guitar, traditionally the lifeblood of Dawes’ medium-paced folk-rock, sits low in the mix.
The title of Dawes' fourth album refers to one of the sweetest lyrics you'll hear this year: "May all your favorite bands stay together," Taylor Goldsmith sings in an affectionate farewell to an old pal. The title could also allude to the way Dawes continue to unapologetically evoke the earnest romanticism and skyward harmonies of classic 1970s Laurel Canyon rock. (In another nod to rock history, the title song has some "Let It Be" piano.) But on their strongest record since their 2009 debut, they inject a brooding guitar jam ("I Can't Think About It Now") and some of Goldsmith's most sweet-and-sour lyrics ("Things Happen").
Make no mistake: Dawes are nothing if not competent. Their well-honed signature brand of folk rock has been perfected and polished to a smooth, dull shine, and their fourth studio album, All Your Favorite Bands, features much of the same capable craftsmanship that has inspired loyalty and warmth in the past. Despite all of this, All Your Favorite Bands contains a certain homogeneity that’s hard to shake.
All Your Favorite Bands presents an occasion to engage in a time-worn theoretical debate. To wit, is it inherently wrong for an act to do one thing and do it well? Is a band that constantly push against the boundaries more honorable than one that continually sharpens the boundaries’ edges?Not necessarily. But the worthiness of a singular, more conservative pursuit may rest upon what exactly the aim of that pursuit is.
If you saw Conor Oberst play live last year, then you’ll already be acquainted with Dawes. The Bright Eyes man spent most of 2014 on the road in support of his latest solo record, Upside Down Mountain, and the Los Angeles four-piece - with brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith at their core - served as both opening act and backing band. They certainly did a fine job of the latter assignment; they were polished, tight, and added some lovely flourishes to Oberst’s enviable back catalogue, too; I seem to recall Taylor bringing a gorgeous guitar solo to the table on “Lua”.
In terms of being one of your favourite bands, as per the title of their new record, Dawes have it down to a science: make dependable records that speak to a specific fan base. Lather, rinse, repeat. Stylistically, their fourth record doesn't depart much from previous ones. They've got the relaxed, campfire-at-dusk folk rock vibe mastered, along with stories of wayward drifters, with a country-influenced kick creeping in here and there (Somewhere Along The Way).