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I See Hawks In L.A. I See Hawks In L.A.
Album: Live And Never Learn
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 14

With their first release since 2013's Mystery Drug, Californian psychedelic, country folk rockers I See Hawks in L.A. are back with Live and Never Learn. It is a 14 track, nigh on hour long collection that could have done with being pared back by 3 or four tracks.

I am something of a traditionalist and think that filler should be in the middle of the album not right at the beginning. Ballad of the Trees is hard work; too long and single paced. The title track is little better, and I really don't care with who and how often they get stoned.

Poour Me is the start of the album proper. "Poor me, poor me, pour me - more wine" With pedal steel and twangy guitar this is what I expected from the start and I'll even forgive the rhyming of "double" and "trouble". Planet Earth shows their hippy, environmental chops and as the pace gets upped with Last Man in Tujunga we are hitting peak I See Hawks.

It is a coin toss if that peak is reached with the vocal harmonies, acoustic strumming and delightful fiddle of Tearing Me in Two or a couple of tracks earlier with My Parka Saved Me. It is an unusual track; Victoria Jacobs tells a story of an automobile accident and it's aftermath in spoken word, vocalist Rob Waller repeats her lines and then the rest of the band chime in with some beautiful harmonies. As the song progresses Waller ad libs, Jacobs corrects, and Waller continues with the corrections. It is an expanded, and darker, take on Mystery Drug's Stop Driving Like an Asshole. Jacobs also sings lead on the shimmering Spinning which leads onto the closing tracks The Isolation Mountains and Stop Me.

Live and Never Learn is an unbalanced album that struggles to get over the tedium of the opening tracks. If you can make it past these, you can bear witness to the Hawks flying as high as they've done before.

John Hawes