--Jonny Whiteside, L.A. WEEKLY
"Try as you might to avoid the heinous hippie-clichÃ© 'cosmic' when describing the music of I See Hawks in LA, when the melodies, lyrics, harmonies and licks take over, you'll find yourself lost in some greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts moment. The Hawks' new disc, California Country, would make an appropriate score for Thomas Pynchon's Vineland: The pace is trance-inducing, the stories transfixing, the vibe completely Californian.
"'Slash from Guns N' Roses' doesn't just mock L.A. life--it bitch-slaps the entire concept of West Coast pop, and 'Barrier Reef' is the best anthem to Cannabis sativa since 'Humboldt' (from the previous Hawks record, Grapevine). These guys even have the cojones to snipe at the Lone Star State in the form of 'Houston Romance' (which they swear is mostly true). And, really, who could disagree with a lyric like 'Texas City, Corpus Christi, it's not the humidity, it's the humanity / it's not the insensitivity, it's the insanity / Corpus Christi, Texas City?' This will also certainly be the only alt-country disc this year to contain a line like 'Nixon was headin' to that big white house / and the bombs would soon be droppin' on the children of Laos.' Seldom has there been an album with such joyous music-making, such corrosive, acid-etched lyrics. Way cosmic."
-- William Michael Smith, HOUSTON PRESS
Come see the Hawks on their HAWKS SUMMER U.S. TOUR
and England/Scotland/Ireland tour in August!
The Hawks have hit one out of the park with their third CD, "California Country," featuring guests Chris Hillman, Rick Shea, Cody Bryant, Danny McGough, Tommy Funderburk, and other SoCal roots brethren. This ain't your Nashville country sound, nor is it the earnest confessional music currently clogging the alt country airwaves.
With bold, sometimes outlandish lyrics about despair in Disney World, blackjack in Jackpot, hippie parenting, donkeys, the poisonous snakes of the Houston suburb golf course lakes, and Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia, "California Country" brings more bluegrass, Phase 90 country psychedelia, and steel driven honky tonk to the Hawks sonic empire.
Formed in 1999 by Rob Waller and brothers Paul and Anthony Lacques during a philosophical discussion and rock throwing session on an East Mojave desert trek, I See Hawks In L.A. wrote their first batch of songs and then sought advice from local country rock guru David Jackson, sideman with John Denver, Dillard and Clark, and Emmy Lou Harris.
Jackson set up a few mics and recorded Rob and Paul, playing along on bass. This demo turned into featured songs on the Hawks eponymous debut on now-defunct Ethic Records, featuring legendary fiddler Brantley Kearns (Dwight Yoakam, Dave Alvin, Hazel Dickens). The CD established the Hawks signature sound: high lonesome three part harmonies, twang guitar and unadorned acoustic arrangements, with lyrics musing on mortality, whales, and the geography of pre-apocalyptic L.A.
"I See Hawks In L.A." received rave reviews, made the F.A.R. Alternative Country Chart, and continues to get regular airplay. With its experimental spirit and wide ranging musical influences, the record tweaked some traditionalists. But most agree that the Hawks have broken new ground.
The Hawks hadn't planned on much more than back porch songwriting and beer drinking, but the buzz prompted them into live performing, and they quickly rose to the top of heap in the brand new Los Angeles alternative country scene. Bassist/vocalist Paul Marshall (Strawberry Alarm Clock, Hank Thompson, Rose Maddox) threw in with the Hawks after sitting in at Ronnie Mack's Barndance in Burbank, and after brother Anthony left to pursue documentary film making, drummer Shawn Nourse (Dwight Yoakum, James Intveld) signed on for a trip to Texas and SXSW and never left.
Shows all over SoCal, from their basement downtown home of Coles Bar, down Sunset to the House of Blues, and across the 405 to the Cinema Bar, garnered the Hawks two L.A. Weekly Best Country Artist awards in 2002 and 2003.
The Hawks second CD, "Grapevine," was released on the summer solstice 2004, and immediately went to #1 on the F.A.R. Chart, lingered in the Americana Chart's top 100 for months, and hit #2 on XM Radio's X Country station in January '05. Strong press reviews and a national audience followed the Hawks 28 city Summer '04 tour, from a state prison in Vermont to a Mississippi roadhouse to the Cactus Cafe and KUT's Eklektikos in Austin, to Hempfest in Seattle. Summer of '05 West Coast and Rockies tours brought the Hawks to the woods, and the woods to the Hawks.
In their past musical lives, in bands ranging from 60's psychedelia, 70's country, hardcore bluegrass, circus, cabaret, 80's country, 90's country, punk rock and world beat, to experimental guitar instrumental music and avant garde polka, the Hawks members have scored a feature film and several documentaries, provided songs, and appeared in countless movies and television shows.
In 2003 The Hawks scored a "Modern Marvels" for the History Channel, a documentary on American cattle ranching from its roots in 19th century Texas to modern mega-factory-farms. The Hawks made soundscapes with old time fiddle, dobro, and jawharp, and brought the music to modern times with some Merle Haggard's Strangers-type country stomp and some space age (al la "Jetsons") guitar and human beat box.
In 2006, I See Hawks in L.A. filmed their first beer commercial. In a strange twist of fate, the band signed on to appear in a San Miguel Beer commercial for the Spanish market (you'll have to fly to Barcelona for this one). Cast as a burnt-out cowboy band, the Hawks play for a roomful of bored line dancers. Then the beer arrives, the Spanish disco music kicks in, everyone chants "Hey!" and goes crazy. Rob fires two pistols in the air and whispers "Paquito" to Brantley for no known reason. Yes, these are strange times we're living in.
The Hawks can be found in their native habitats: Coles Bar and outdoor fest Grand Performances in downtown Los Angeles, The Cinema Bar in Culver City, Ronnie Mack's Barn Dance, Pappy and Harriets and Gramfest in the high desert, and Ben Vaughn's Wonder Valley Music Fest at the Palms bar, even further east of nowhere; at acoustic house concerts, and any dive that will take them, from Seattle to San Diego, and all the Sans and Santas in between.
Look for the Hawks on their summer '06 U.S. tour and tour of England, Scotland and Ireland in August '06, see www.iseehawks.com
Check out the artist's website:
1. Motorcycle Mama
2. Raised By Hippies
3. Midnight In Orlando
4. Slash From Guns N' Roses
5. California Country
6. Golden Girl
7. Byrd From West Virginia
9. The Donkey Song
10. Houston Romance
11. Hard Times (Are Here Again)
12. Barrier Reef
13. Take My Rest