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4.3 out of 5 stars15
4.3 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 20 February 2012
Yes it is easy to immediately hear the Laurel Canyon vibe, that sound and the other set of influences that these guys are drawing on. I can even appreciate why the criticisms are voiced and written by people. Here and elsewhere. But...

I think those comments are actually very shallow.

It is a rare band that can tap that vibe and use it to produce music that is so very raw, honest and full of emotion. Which is exactly what these songs are full of. And it simply does NOT matter one jot that people and bands have gone before that have done just that and using a similar vibe too. That Dawes have done so is what matters. They've taken all the instruments playing, all the vocals and the lyrics and used them to produce musical snapshots of real emotion.

Proper musical poetry in the lyrical and musical sense. A proper heart on it's sleeve album without a hint of it being contrived.

Stuff the comparisons. Undoubtedly if you're into the Laurel Canyon, Neil Young type thing, you'll instantly find comfort in the sound you hear, but pull back the layers and what you have is a work that can stand on its own feet and deserves credit in its own right.
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Lets clear the confusion straight away this new band draw their name from lead singer Taylor Goldsmiths old grandfather Dawes Lafayette Goldsmith not the leather clad Lizard King, the late Jim Morrision. Like the Doors they hail from Los Angeles but that is where the similarity ends. The poetry of Rimbaud and references to snakes are no where to found instead Dawes draw on the tradition of the old Laurel Canyon culture and clearly owe huge debts to CSN, The Eagles, Gram Parsons, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. A fine pedigree to draw upon and North Hills is a strong debut from a very promising new band.

I picked up on them after hearing the stand out track "When my time comes". Hear those harmonies on the chorus and it is the Byrds who spring to mind. A lovely bass driven classic rock song which most bands don't ever get to write. They do not rest on their Laurels (sic) however - equally classy are "Love is all I am" a plaintively sung ballad that recalls the Eagles and the ghost of Gram Parsons is summoned up for the wonderful "Take me out of the city".

If I have a complaint its that perhaps the Eagles comparison is taken a bit far with "Western Skyline" and the lyrics of "Beside Manner" are so wet they need a tumble drier. As such you sometimes wish they would cut loose a bit more as they do on the excellent "My girl to me". Still I'm becoming a cynical old whinger and that should not spoil a debut crammed with promise and potential. As the school report once said young Dawes look set for much greater things
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on 30 December 2009
Previous reviews have, I feel, dwelled too much on Dawes obvious old school influences, Neil Young, The Eagles, et al... and while those references hold completely true, what really makes these young guys work for me is based in their more modern influences. Wilco, Okkervil River, even a sprinkling of Ryan Adams in there too. All that and more is within the hushed tones & the heartbreaking melodies. This is seriously gorgeous stuff. I just recently did my "albums of the year" list and I only wish I'd picked this album up sooner because it would've been right up there. Truly lovely music, can't rate this enough.
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Well, what a perfectly lovely album "North Hills" is, a beautifully-crafted, thoughtful and gorgeously performed country folk-rock album par excellence. With strong echoes of early-70s songwriting greats such as Neil Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash, this piece of work contains some of the most subtly brilliant tracks of the year. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Dawes seem to be purposely following in the footsteps of those who perfected the Laurel Canyon sound and have, without any doubt in my mind, succeeded. The lead singer's voice rings out wonderfully on the first couple of tracks and the music is endearingly timeless. The first song, "That Western Skyline" is just about as perfect an opener as you could want. Achingly beautiful, this poetic song of heartbreak captured my attention on the very first listen. The second composition of the album, "Love Is All I Am" features a gently persuasive acoustic guitar riff as well as some heavenly harmonies and organ. If you haven't fallen heavily for Dawes after the first couple of songs, then your heart is made of stone.

My other favourite tracks on "North Hills" include the imploring "Give Me Time" which has harmonies to die for and builds quite magnificently throughout the song. "God Rest My Soul" is a quietly jaunty country-ballad which is slightly reminiscent of The Eagles, "Bedside Manner" is an achingly shimmering piece which could have been written by Crosby Stills & Nash at the height of their powers and "My Girl To Me" is a medium paced country-rocker which provides a very nice change of pace and sports a wonderful organ-drenched chorus and solo. There's absolutely nothing on this album which doesn't please in some way, though. Some of the compositions are a little more subtle than others and this album takes a few playbacks before the full majesty of the body of work can be appreciated.

Of course, with the description I've given, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is quite a derivative and unoriginal album. Well, although their influences are worn on their sleeve, this is never anything but a completely original album filled with extremely good songs that you definitely haven't won't have heard before. Still, they do base their whole musical philosophy on a past genre, so it's going to be difficult for them to receive the credit they deserve for this remarkable album but if this album had have been released in the late 60s/early 70s, we'd be calling it an all-time classic - and it almost deserves that accolade in late 2009. Wonderful stuff.
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on 16 November 2009
Uncut gave this 5 stars. Umm...
Other reviewers here find comparisons with CCR, the Band, the Eagles. Umm...
Agreed somewhere in there are echoes of the Band but mostly I find Dawes a bunch of musicians who are not clear on where they want to go with their music.
It's pleasant enough, likeable even but I'm not fully convinced.
3 stars it is from me but worth checking out.
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on 5 January 2013
Brilliant new band - this and "Nothing is wrong" are my two top Albums of 2012!
All the history of Laurel Canyon - Crosby, Stills; Neil Young; the Eagles; Jackson Browne is all here in their music
Long may they continue to make music like this!
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on 23 October 2013
I only heard about Dawes recently and, on the strength of a few people raving about them, bought this - their first album. It's just wonderful - full of epic songs and fantastic melodies. Buy it. You won't regret it!
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on 8 July 2012
Brill 1st album from Dawes, even went down in price b4 I bought it. If we had a summer this would be played - unfortunately we dont have a summer....
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on 17 August 2015
this will be there bench mark for all there efforts to come less production all ways a good thing will they ask DUANE BETTS to stay i hope so
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on 17 December 2013
There album is excellent and has given us many hours of enjoyment. Will keep my eyes open for their next one
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