The imagery of their name conjures up a free wandering kindred spirit sauntering around the sprawling suburbs of the City of Angels and onwards into the wider expanse of the vastness of the Golden State. If you spend a little bit of time immersing yourself into MYSTERY DRUG the new album from I See Hawks in LA then this imagery will appear more apparent and ultimately you’ll be consumed by an agenda-free band that leaves an impression of dancing to no other tune than their own.
By exhuming all the past influences of west coast country rock, the band formed in 1999 by Rob Waller and the Lacques Brothers, Paul and Anthony, have become torch bearers for this iconic sound. They have perfectly captured the mix of rock riffs and solos, gentle pedal steel laced harmonies and a driving acoustic beat. The song writing of Paul and Rob, aided by several other contributors varies between the implicit and the explicit with an element of mystery to just keep those brain cells lubricated.
Weighing in at thirteen tracks and a not-too-brief forty nine minutes, MYSTERY DRUG will not fulfil you after a couple of listens. In fact it will leave you intoxicated until you feel that you have grasped its credentials. While you are undertaking this journey of discovery, your mind will be seduced by an engaging sound and a strong vocal delivery.
The core of the 2013 version of I See Hawks in LA, that will also bring this album to the intimate listening venues of the UK this summer, is Rob Waller on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Paul Laccques on guitar and Paul Marshall on bass, with the latter two providing vocal back up. For the album, extra bass, lashings of pedal steel and a hint of accordion has been added to ramp up the alt-country vibes. Amongst industry luminaries who have acquainted themselves with the ‘Hawks’ are Lucinda Williams, Chris Hillman and Dwight Yoakam.
Of the thirteen songs forming MYSTERY DRUG there is an outstanding track that you envisage being lifted from the album and appearing on many summer playlists. ‘We Could All Be In Laughlin Tonight’ is a wonderful tale of plying your musical craft at the bottom of the pile where the lack of perks extend to the exclusion of steak, lobster and top shelf drinks from each venue’s band order menu. You feel the frustration of this life of Skynrd covers and decisions where to head next. With a sound harking back to one of traditional county, this track can’t be recommended highly enough.
Of the others, ‘Oklahoma’s Going Dry’ , ‘Sky Island’ and ‘The River Knows’ have that implicit imagery that exists once you’ve freed yourself from the urban constraints. More explicit numbers include the forthright ‘Stop Driving Like a Asshole’ and the new wave vibes attaching themselves to ‘My Local Merchants’ with its take on the extra appeal of your local convenience outlets. ‘If You Remind Me’ has some drop dead harmonies crowning this reflective number.
‘Rock n Roll Cymbals from the Seventies’ is an spritely little rocking effort with a catchy chorus and containing an element of repetition as found in the more hypnotic number ‘One Drop of Human Blood’. ‘Mystery Drug’, ‘Yesterday’s Coffee’ and ‘The Beauty of the Better States’ will require a little perseverance in their understanding but as previously mentioned this journey of discovery is ably assisted by an ear pleasing melodic country sound spiced up in places with some subtle rock.
Your Americana music listening experience will be enhanced with a dose of I See Hawks in LA and MYSTERY DRUG is just the medicine to melt away life’s afflictions. Catch them live or on record and don’t forget to playlist the killer track.