Dawes
All Your Favorite Bands


4.0
excellent

Review

by theBonerKing USER (12 Reviews)
June 12th, 2015 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “I needed to witness someone wrestle with what it means to just exist.”

Dawes are a great band.

This may seem like a cliched or bland way to start a review, but it’s a fact that needs to be understood. I don’t mean that Dawes are a great band in the sense that I like their music (though the rating above shows that that is indeed true). Rather, I mean that they are an accomplished group of musicians who work extremely well as an ensemble. They have a standard four piece rock lineup (vocalist/guitarist, drummer, bassist, keyboardist), and each member, while individually they are technically proficient, is also able to listen to and play off of the others in ways that, while rarely innovative, are nearly always interesting. When they come together and play their iteration of Americana and ‘70’s folk/country rock, it sounds great. As I see it, anyone should be able to listen to their music (particularly when they play live) and agree with my opening statement.

All that said, Dawes often draw the criticism that being a great band does not inherently make their music great. Occasionally, on record, their songs come across as flat, too controlled. This is, perhaps, due to their very proficiency. As a result, they are the type of group who are nearly universally considered to be better live. Thus, All Your Favorite Bands is a record they would inevitably have to make. This is Dawes’ attempt to capture their live sound on record. They mostly succeed in doing so. It was recorded with very few takes and minimal overdubs, and the band have said they made sure not to practice these songs too much before recording; the solos were not pre-written. Further, these songs are allowed to breathe, containing more extended instrumental breaks and random touches here and there than in their past efforts. One song, ruminative closer “Now That It’s Too Late, Maria”, stretches to just short of ten minutes, in the best way possible. This breath and looseness work to Dawes’ benefit; the record has the feel of a great live record, an amazing gig caught by some sort of providence on tape. But more than being an excellent collection of playing, the songs provide meaningful insight.

One of Dawes’ greatest assets is Taylor Goldsmith’s lyrics. He has a gift for crafting poetic lyrics that capture reality in simple, often very philosophical phrases. On All Your Favorite Bands, he explores the aftermath of relationships gone somehow wrong, reaching for answers, sources of what exactly caused the change. His very first lines on opener “Things Happen” make this clear: “I could go on talking, or I could stop/Wring out each memory till I get every drop”. Throughout, Goldsmith’s narrators live in a mental limbo. Sometimes they seem to have gotten over the relationship; sometimes, they can’t get their heads out of the past.

Despite the album’s desire to find solutions, it doesn’t focus on the answers, but rather on feelings and uncertainties. In “All Your Favorite Bands”, the narrator seems to have good wishes for his past lover, but he acknowledges, “Now I’m just waking up and I’m not thinking clearly, so don’t quote me/With one eye open I’m writing you this song”. With that line, he throws the entire message into question; what at first seems an overly saccharine ballad becomes far more complex and uncertain. In “Somewhere Along the Way”, the estranged lover is “as new and as ancient/As the solar paneled hills” and “sure she could take this world by storm/The wonder of sound and light seeking a form”. These lyrics evoke a duality mirrored by the narrator’s vague knowledge only that, “Somewhere along the way”, something changed. Similar instances pop up throughout the album. Perhaps the most complex moment of the album along this theme is towards the end of “Things Happen”, in which, when you’re expecting the chorus to simply repeat, it does, but with different lyrics atop it, in the same rhythm. At first jarring, with repeated listens this becomes perhaps the most poignant example of the duality and uncertainty suffusing the album. It is hard to make out the new lyrics being sung, just as it is hard for these men to figure out their lives. But like them, we all struggle.

None of this is to say that All Your Favorite Bands is flawless, or even close to it. As stated before, the title track is a bit too saccharine. “Don’t Send Me Away” should sound more despairing than it does. The whole thing, while it does sound great, takes a few listens to really connect with due to its unoriginal sound. But overall, it is a record filled with lots of layers, both in the lyrics and in the music, and it is a joy to join the narrators in teasing them out.

In summary, if you have an appreciation for well-executed, ol’-fashioned folk rock with beautiful harmonies and just the right hints of country and soul, for subtle lyrics, or for complex music that portrays relatable, collective struggles without offering easy solutions, you should check this out.

Recommended Tracks (in no particular order):
“Things Happen”
“Somewhere Along the Way”
“I Can’t Think About It Now”
“Now That It’s Too Late, Maria”



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user ratings (11)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
theBoneyKing
June 12th 2015


22392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I really can't stress enough how great Dawes are. I could have gone on much longer about all the subtleties here, but I will leave them for the interested listener to find.



Dawes deserve more recognition. Seriously. I'm not so sure how well I got it across here, but some of the guitar solos on this really rock. And drummer Griffin Goldsmith can do some great rhythms. Listen to this for just the music, and you won't be disappointed at all. The lyrics make it even better.



Also, please give any criticism you have. This is only my second review.

oodlesofnoodles
June 13th 2015


66 Comments


Nice review man, listening to this now. Such a great Eagles vibe, really good

theBoneyKing
June 13th 2015


22392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah - Dawes are pretty much the best evocation of Eagles/Jackson Brown-esque rock playing today.

argonaut
June 13th 2015


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haven't heard of this band before, but sounds very interesting. I'll give this a listen today.

theBoneyKing
June 13th 2015


22392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dawes are one of those bands who have gotten a good amount of recognition by critics and the industry without really connecting popularly. I think partially this is due to the amount of time they spend touring with others, rather than devoting to their own shows - they have opened on tours with Mumford & Sons and Bob Dylan, and last year they both opened for Conor Oberst and played as his backing band on his tour. They also did song with John Fogerty on Wrote a Song For Everyone, and Taylor Goldsmith was part of The New Basement Tapes side project last year, and has played with the singers from Delta Spirit and Deer Tick as Middle Brother.

argonaut
June 13th 2015


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bob Dylan? Wow.

theBoneyKing
June 13th 2015


22392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yep:



http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/music/a24000/dawes-road-with-dylan/

argonaut
June 13th 2015


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, really interesting article. I'm listening to this now. It's a bit bland in parts, for me, but I like the Eagles vibe. Somewhere Along The Way is a serious jam too.

argonaut
June 13th 2015


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice, the last track is awesome.

theBoneyKing
June 13th 2015


22392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, last track basically slays

argonaut
July 27th 2015


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever.

theBoneyKing
July 27th 2015


22392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

These guys were a key piece of the Dylan tribute headliner at Newport Folk Fest tonight.

argonaut
July 27th 2015


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sounds interesting. Were you there?

theBoneyKing
July 27th 2015


22392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was. They and a bunch of artists were up doing Dylan songs in tribute to the 1965 set where he went electric.

There were a couple people at the festival wearing hats that say "Let's party", which I thought was amazing

argonaut
July 27th 2015


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ha, that's funny. Sounds like a good time.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
November 3rd 2015


3904 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Title track is just beautiful.



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