From the (North) Hills to the (Laurel) Canyon: Can LA's Dawes Save Americana Rock n'Roll?

I moved to Los Angeles around the time everyone had caught on to the new Laurel Canyon scene and wrote about the place like it oozed nextbigthings the way Hollywood oozed collagen, and I left around the time that everyone else had moved on to Downtown, to the Smell and pseudo-skid row, looking for a fix. A music fix, that is.

But even before the old Laurel Canyon was the new Laurel Canyon, it's impossible to deny that the place, whatever it does with the Technicolor Los Angeles lighting that happens when sunlight meets the smog and song, tends to be amazing, harmonious, but most of all, truly American.

Enter Dawes: a young, heartbreakingly earnest group of California kids weaned by LA, fed by classic rock and matured by modern folk. Led by Taylor Goldsmith, the music is melodic and rootsy while capturing a unique, borderline enthusiastic and energetic spirit that often lacks in so-called indie-rock. There's undeniable twang guitar, harmonies and singalong choruses, but instead of feeling derivative or like cowboy boots with a Made in China stamp, Dawes makes sense: it's ok that they're from Los Angeles playing what could be called folk/classic/country rock, because that sheer fact (coupled with an innate sense for rhythmic fun and peppery songwriting) makes them fresh and exactly what they are. And that is good new American rock, when you get down to the bones of it.

Check out the video below of Dawes' song, When My Time Comes. And then you be the judge.

Dawes play LA next at Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Center on June 10th and their album, North Hills, is out now on ATO.