Sep 14, 2016

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Album Review: Dawes – We’re All Gonna Die

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For the first time ever, Dawes have released a new album in back-to-back years. Taylor Goldsmith, (vocals/guitars) his brother Griffin, (drums) Wylie Gelber, (bass) and Lee Pardini (keyboards), are set to release their fifth studio album We’re All Gonna Die on September 16th via HUB records. This project is very special because it includes an all-star supporting cast of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes), Mandy Moore (Taylor’s girlfriend), Will Oldham, and Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius. With the production skills of former band member and Grammy-nominated produced Blake Mills, the hype for We’re All Gonna Die is through the roof.

One Of Us, the opening track of the album, creates a loud, rock vibe as distorted guitars and distorted vocal-belting pierces through the speakers. The title track of the album sets a mellow, stoned out detached mindset. We’re All Gonna Die is a pretty song even though that fact isn’t pretty at all. Picture Of A Man is an acid pop indie rock whirlwind of bouncy percussion and soaring keyboard effects. With tight harmonies and a great amount of soul, this track stands out as one of the most organic Dawes sounding tracks on the album. Track 5, Less Than Five Miles Away features a funky, rock thumping ending bass groove.

Roll Tide brings the same stoned, down-tempo vibe, which balances the mainly rocking, uplifting tracks on the album. This mood is definitely the influence of Motown soul classics mixed with oldies jazz. The occasional abrupt music mute during the transition from verse to chorus is a minute dynamic detail that highlights the natural warm and pleasant vocal harmonies. Tied with Picture Of A Man for most memorable song on the album is For No Good Reason. Sandwiched in at track 8, this song is just deep enough on the list that its catchy guitar riffs and indie pop vocal melodies will surely hook listeners.

The last track on the album, As If By Design, brings a Spanish swing, beachy vibe as piano keys trickle and the pluckings of the steel acoustic guitar strings bounce off of the the steady snare drum hit. The salsa vibe reaches its peak at the brilliant piano solo in the middle of the song just after the trumpets blurt in.

I’ve never listened to all of the other Dawes albums and have heard very few of their tunes. Ever since hearing When The Tequila Runs Out on the radio a few weeks ago I was really excited for the energy of this project. The production on this album is extraordinarily stellar and the songs themselves are clever, soul driven existential poems turned into indie rock anthems.

Scott J. Herman