by Connor O’Brien
The Laurel Canyon is an area deep in the Hollywood Hills on the outskirts of Los Angeles that spawned a lot of influential folk-rock bands from the 60s and 70s, most namely Crosby, Stills, and Nash. One of the bands trying to resurrect that sound, and to great results, just put out their third album. Dawes, comprised of the Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, Wylie Gelber, and Tay Strathairn, have added another classic to their diverse catalogue. Forming in the mid-2000s out of the ashes of their more post-punk incarnation, the band released Stories Don’t End to a small but devoted fan base (myself included) by streaming it on Amazon and releasing 500 vinyl copies at record stores across the country a week before its official release date.
Stories Don’t End represents something very rare in the so-called indie genre: a record that highlights the strengths of each band member. Griffin Goldsmith exercises both jazz-like restraint and characteristic, Animal-from-the-Muppets manic energy on the drums. Gelber shines as a more than competent bass player, adding flourishes and rhythmic complexities to the songs. However, the star of the show, per usual, is the guitarist-singer Taylor Goldsmith. His poetic songwriting at one moment cutting and emotional, and then self-deprecating and goofy: “I want to raise with you, and watch our younglings hatch / and fuckin’ make the first letters of their first names match.” Besides the other obvious CSN comparison, he also evokes Jackson Browne and Rick Danko.
One of the great things about a Dawes record, especially Stories Don’t End, is that they’re infinitely re-listenable. The diversity of styles, from the toe-tapping groove of the single “From a Window Seat” to the brooding and deeply affecting title track, will keep listeners coming back time and time again. This fact, along with a great live show and them just being generally really nice guys, makes Dawes one of the only bands that I will stay committed to buying physical releases every time. You should too.