While visiting my ol’ stomping’ grounds of St. John’s, NL this past summer, I was turned on to a fabulous new band. I was returning home to play a few shows with my band, Banded Stilts, but we were without our regular drummer and bassist. Luckily some old friends came through to fill in. Derek Pink (The Ruins, the human soundtrack) and Josh Ward (Hey Rosetta!, Surgeon, Funky Dory, and more) filled in on drums, bass and mandolin respectively. These guys are beyond reliable as musicians and I felt truly lucky to have them on stage with me for those shows. Without having practiced together, we immediately got together at our friends bar, The Levee, for a few hours of practice before the first show. After we were comfortable with the material and were free to hang out and chat, Derek had mentioned the band Dawes and that I just might like them. Josh put them on through the PA system via his ipod and I was pleasantly surprised by this group. I had asked Derek to send me the name of the group again and he sent me a link to their video “When My Time Comes.” I was listening to their debut album, North Hills shortly thereafter and it got more than frequent playing time at home. I love the vintage sound and can easily hear that they draw influence from favourite artists of mine like The Band, Neil Young and Wilco.
I’ve been eagerly anticipating listening to their follow up, Nothing Is Wrong, but didn’t want to rush it until their debut release had sunk deep into my consciousness. Recently , I’ve been hearing “Time Spent in Los Angeles” quite a bit as it was getting ample air time on CBC Radio 2. The song is great and as I caught myself singing it throughout the day, I decided it was time to hear the rest of the album.
The record opens with the aforementioned single and is followed by another catchy tune, “If I Wanted Someone.” I just read recently that Dawes was touring with Blitzen Trapper and I can’t help but pine for a day when both bands will tour a little closer to home.
As the album plays on, a perpetual bias of mine is coming into play: I can’t help but compare it to the previous release. It’s not a huge departure musically from that record, but it’s not hitting me the way the first album did. Perhaps it’s that I know their sound now and there isn’t much new to grab onto. This isn’t a complaint however, as I like this band enough to be more than happy to hear more of the same. More of the same folk rock instrumentation, great harmonies and a masterful knack for songwriting.