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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Dawes

Introducing Tuesday Is For Tunes. Starting this week, every Tuesday I will feature the best new band or musician I managed to come across the last week.


This week: Dawes. I first heard this band when XPN played their song, When My Time Comes. I was lying in bed willing myself to get up on only 3 hours of sleep, and an entirely cynical point of view, when I heard these utterly sympathetic, empathetic, vocals sing out, "the only piece of advice that continues to help is that anyone making anything new only breaks something else". I was stunned. How did they know to sing what I needed to hear at that exact moment? Before I could completely register what I had just heard, I was hit with another golden lyrical line, "you can stare into the abyss, but it's staring right back". Goodness! Was that a Nietzsche reference? I think that was just a Nietzsche reference! What was this amazingness being transmitted across time and space especially for my ears? Dawes.

Honestly, I thought it must be a fluke. Just another folk revival band with one delicious song that sounds like it resonated from the Appalachian foothills, and an entire rest of an album that sounds like hipsters trying too hard. Thankfully, when I finally got around to checking out Dawes out further, I was very pleasantly surprised. They remind me of Neil Young, Pedro The Lion, and Fleet Foxes, but they’re certainly not just imitating scattered idols. Their music is cohesive, and entirely their own. And, I cannot get over their lyrics. Love Is All I Am is another track that offers lyrics with a surprising amount of wisdom and insight from a band so young. Though I admit, that it waxes a little ego-driven, it makes up for that with sincerity, and I almost like it more for that. I’ve been there, caught up in myself, but deeply feeling every emotion.

While I am particularly attached to their lyrics, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention their instrumental components as well. As I described it to a friend this past week, Dawes sounds like milk and honey pouring down my ears and over my soul. She gave them a listen, and is also now an avid convert. Their lilting country blues chords punctuated by snare and set with patiently wrought harmonies sound familiar and comforting. Yet, they maintain a unique freshness that prevents their songs from sounding contrived or worn out. Perhaps it’s the minimalist approach: a little goes further than a lot for this band, and they do it well. I’ve been listening to the four songs from their MySpace on repeat for the last five days, and it still hasn’t gotten played out. On Take Me Out Of The City they add just the right amount of piano, organ, harmonica, and tambourine to tantalizingly build up to an exquisite culmination, perfectly delicate and perfectly heart wrenching.

As soon as I can get a spare moment in this holiday madness I’m going to my local record store to buy North Hills the debut album from Dawes, which they released this past summer. In the meantime, I’ll watch this.


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