What happens if you can faithfully replicate the Laurel Canyon sound without sounding like a stale retread of those 1970s songwriters and their session players? If you’re Los Angeles-based Dawes, you become the latest addition to our You Oughta Know roster (which, we should note, is powered by Subway).
So who are these four guys, who will be kicking off a co-headlining tour with Blitzen Trapper this month? As far as Jackson Browne and Robbie Robertson are concerned, they may as well be long-lost session players; both boomer greats have taken Dawes out on tour as a backing band. Nevertheless, the quartet is very much of the present.
The band formed from the ashes of Simon Dawes, a Malibu art-rock group named for songwriting friends Blake Mills and Taylor Goldsmith‘s middle names. When Mills left the group, they became simply Dawes, and revamped their sound. They may be more traditionally-minded than My Morning Jacket or other, jammier labelmates on ATO Records, but their sound is not dissimilar—more CSNY and less Allman Brothers, maybe, but certainly in the same wheelhouse.
Their in-the-pocket playing, which has scored them the type of high-profile backing gigs we mentioned, is in service of songwriting that improved in leaps and bounds from their first record, 2009’s North Hills, to this summer’s Nothing Is Wrong, and we have no reason to doubt that whenever their next album gets recorded and released, it will be that much better, even.
Stay tuned for an exclusive live set recorded in the VH1 offices, and for more information on Dawes, check YouOughtaKnow.VH1.com. In the meantime, take a listen to the first single off their new LP, “Time Spent In Los Angeles”: