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North Hills [Digipak]
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  • Audio Mixer: Jonathan Wilson.
  • Often billed as the next generation of the Laurel Canyon sound, rootsy quartet Dawes evokes the spirit of its predecessors by matching acoustic-based music reminiscent of the Band or HARVEST-era Neil Young with Byrds/Crosby, Stills & Nash-like vocal harmonies and lyrics that aspire to poetry. The quartet's debut album NORTH HILLS (named for the group's Los Angeles-area hometown, which is only 20 minutes away from Laurel Canyon), was recorded almost entirely live to two-inch analog tape, an approach perfectly suited to the combo's earthy sound. The disc's producer Jonathan Wilson often invited the members of Dawes to join in on informal, multi-generational jam sessions featuring Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, the Heartbreakers' Benmont Tench and the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson, and the spare, tasteful vibe of these artists seems to have inspired the feeling of NORTH HILLS. Lead vocalist Taylor Goldsmith is a careful wordsmith and endearing, emotive vocalist, coming off a bit like a mix of Gram Parsons and Kings of Leon's Caleb Followill. "When My Time Comes" finds him delivering a rapid-fire, Bob Dylan-esque monologue about the difficulty of personal maturation, before breaking into a soaring chorus worthy of U2's Bono. Elsewhere, such as on "Bedside Manner" and first single "Love is All I Am," the band leaves space for more gentle reflection, with lazy drum beats, loping bass, and subtle organ flourishes creating the musical equivalent of a breezy California sunset.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (p.80) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Producer Jonathan Wilson gives the affair a living-room vibe, so that even the boldest songs sound like they arose in the midst of a jam session."

Q (Magazine) (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]here's a freshness and variety to NORTH HILLS....'When You Call My Name' and 'Give Me Time' as plaintive as 'When My Time Comes' is defiant."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.85) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[The album] marks out their territory perfectly, flitting between blue collar anthems and moments of underplayed intimacy."

Uncut (magazine) (p.92) - "There are strong flavours of BAnd Of Horses and Fleet Foxes...but the most impressive aspect of all is the way Dawes make the whole thing sound so wonderfully uncomplicated."
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