It took another similarly titled article to remind me that, other than a brief live show review, I never got around to talking much about Dawes‘s awesome debut album North Hills. Garnering some attention from some pretty established sites as well as fellow tour-mates, these L.A. alt-country rockers have been slowly building a solid fan base from their killer shows. I was fortunate enough to catch their act in both Lubbock, Texas and Montreal, Quebec (cultural antipodes, I know), and each time I felt that they outshined the headliner Deer Tick. Although their album falls a bit short of capturing the energy of their live set, North Hills still makes for a great listen.
In a year when country was lacking in my opinion, North Hills stands out not because of its inventiveness but because of its return-to-the-roots feel — something that you can’t get from a Wilco album nowadays. Out of the eleven tracks on the LP, you would be hard pressed to find one song that warrants the skip button to be hit, and, if listened to continuously, the album makes for a perfect Sunday afternoon pick-me-up (not unlike Timothy Cushing’s album). Not to imply that easy-listening equates to boring — there are plenty of tracks like “When You Call My Name” and “My Girl to Me” that feature romping melodies — but the LP never begs to be shut-off and, just like Pringles, once you listen to a single song you can’t stop.
No doubt the album highlight is the much revered track “When My Time Comes”. Anchored by repetitive guitar & bass triplets that are sure to make you do some foot tapping, the song is instantly catchy. No doubt helping the track’s popularity is that sing-along appeal which singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith nails when the first “Whennnnn My Time Comes…” bubbles up to the surface. Trust me, it’s impossible to not belt out that line with Goldsmith in successive choruses.
If Dawes fell in the one-hit wonder category, no doubt all other tracks would pale in comparison. Fortunately (for us as well as for them), they surround their hit with equally stellar songs. The lead in to “When My Time Comes”, “Give Me Time” is a pleasant listen full of harmonizing vocals and delicate guitar strums, guaranteeing it airtime at a lot of proms in the Southern states, while the follower “God Rest My Soul” is arguably just as catchy as its predecessor.
I could go on and on about the album — like how “That Western Skyline” is an amazing acoustic track or “Peace in the Valley” is a perfect closer — but for the sake of brevity, I’ll just leave you with these two songs to try to convert you: