“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” has earned its hoary immortality in Memeville.
That’s how it was from February 2020 onward. That’s how it hit us Hawks. We played our last live show at Ben Vaughn’s Wonder Valley Festival. The evening was charged, Ben and the Hawks pushing against the unknown at the edge of the desert night.
And then, well you know. Le lockdown. It was disruptive, but we’re drawn to disruption, we create disruption, it’s a creative source, and here it was handed to us writ large by global fate. How do little old us ride this floodwave?
We dove in, digitally. Without ever playing music in the same room. As was near universal for musicians, reality was the all-embracing screen, cyber images that sang and played drums and guitar.
Rob and Paul went on an uncharacteristically locked-in songwriting schedule, every Friday facetiming it at the crack of 4 p.m., quite a challenge (you can't play guitars at the same time) — but also an oasis from chaos. Pure strange joy. We cranked out an album’s worth of songs, with big contributions from drummer Victoria Jacobs.
Social and eco commentary have always marked our lyrics. This period of unprecedented global and American crises has made pontificating particularly perilous and delicate. How do you state your views without exploiting suffering? We went historic and oblique, with songs about Geronimo, Muhammad Ali, the Faulknerian dilemma, in language sometimes more abstract and mirroring than narration. (There are also classic Hawks train beats and country rockers about Marin wiccans, London mod dub hippie markets, and the [un]certainties of love and broken hearts.)
Then began the studio game, ProTools trial by error, error in abundance. Why don’t these tracks line up? Can we use an iPhone recording? (Yes.) Rob sends a vocal and guitar. Paul and Victoria cut drums, Paul Marshall cuts bass and vocs. We recut. Okay, sounds like music. We got beautiful guest performances from our compadres Danny McGough, Brantley Kearns, Dave Zirbel, Richie Lawrence, Rich Dembowski and Woody Aplanalp (Old Californio), Joe Berardi, Marcus Watkins and Marc Doten (Double Naught Spy Car), and James Combs and Ed Barguiarena (Great Willow).
There are always silver linings. A big one is affirmation that we need music far more than it needs us. Singing and playing, even locked into computer recording, was a life raft. It seems to have gotten us to shore: some hopefully classic vibe Hawks and some new sonic directions born of the limitations and possibilities of the studio only universe. A lurch into modernity.
released April 21, 2021
1. Might've Been Me (3:03) Waller/Lacques
2. On Our Way (3:26) Waller/Lacques
3. Know Just What To Do (6:28) Waller
4. Mississippi Gas Station Blues (2:16) Waller/Lacques/Jacobs
5. Kensington Market (4:49) Jacobs
6. Kentucky Jesus (2:30) Waller/Lacques
7. Geronimo (4:20) Waller/Anthony Lacques/Lacques
8. Stealing (3:51) Dembowski/Waller/Lacques
9. If I Move (5:17) Waller/Lacques
10. Radio Keeps Me On The Ground (Slight Return) (3:42) Combs/Waller/Lacques
11. How You Gonna Know? (8:08) Waller/Lacques/Jacobs
Rob Waller lead vocals, bg vocs, acoustic guitar, synth
Paul Lacques guitars, lap steel, autoharp, jawharp, mandolin, bg vocs
Paul Marshall bass, bg vocs, lead voc (10)
Victoria Jacobs drums, tambourine, lead vocal (5, 10), bg vocs
Brantley Kearns fiddle (3)
Dave Zirbel pedal steel (1, 7, 9)
Richie Lawrence accordion (3, 6)
Danny McGough Mellotron, Lowrey Celebration, B3 (4, 5)
Rich Dembowski acoustic guitar, vocals (8)
Woody Aplanalp electric guitar, vocals (8)
James Combs acoustic guitars (10)
Ed Barguiarena organ (2, 10)
and Double Naught Spy Car (11):
Joe Berardi drums
Marc Doten synths
Marcus Watkins electric guitar
Recorded by Hawks in houses
Mixed by Dave Trumfio
Mastered by Paul Dugre
Artwork by Karen Walker Chamberlain
I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. formed in the first year of the 21st century on a desert journey that has led to ten releases, UK/Europe
and U.S. tours, and way too much fun. Alt country folk rock with rich harmonies and a way outsider approach to Americana. See them live! Top Ten Americana Releases, MOJO...more
This record was announced for release when I was sick with Covid. X ,always has a special place in my heart since late 70’s early 80’s.
It just made my day!!
Especially the song I gotta fever!! seanstabu
This is an album that takes its time to reveal itself. Give it at least half a dozen times before you expect to come across true genius. On the surface, it's so beautiful. And the shades and layers will show up as you listen more. Promise. Thank you, Wilco ... the world was waiting for this. Dainon Moody