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Quintessential Albums :: All Your Favorite Bands :: Dawes

1428335794150113_dawes_la_cutlass_0802_wide-68527cff5a9bd1ae18841ff420a964dba3cba185-900x673A Little History:

All Your Favorite Bands is the fourth studio album by American folk-rock band Dawes, released on June 2, 2015.

Dawes is composed of brothers Taylor (guitars and vocals) and Griffin Goldsmith (drums), along with Wylie Gelber (bass) and Tay Strathairn (keyboards).

The band was formed from the band Simon Dawes after the departure of co-songwriter Blake Mills, subsequently abandoning a post-punk sound in favor of folk rock. Dawes has been described as having a Laurel Canyon sound in the vein of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.

All Your Favorite Bands is said to maintain a theme of sentimentality and nostalgia, looking backwards and wishing well friends and lovers with a very universal thought that all your favorite bands stay together. To me, it iterates the idea that music is personal and vital to human existence, that love may fade, friends may drift apart, but your favorite music, and bands, they stay with you forever.

I think that summation has some truth to it, but I also feel the album’s other theme is understanding and clarity, the kind that comes from growing older and looking back with a different perspective. It is about the complications of relationships, the complexities of existing in this world, and the consequence of reaching goals (in the case of Now That It’s Too Late, Maria, the goal is fame), or not reaching them (in the case of Somewhere Along the Way, not achieving fame). There is a jadedness, as well as a sense of peace, and maybe a tiny bit of hope, embedded in these songs that I believe connects directly into that sense of understanding, and growing up. That said, it could all circle back to that sense of sentiment, of looking back fondly (or at least with forgiveness) and wishing all of them, including your past “self”, the best.

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What Makes This “Quintessential” to me?

I fell hard for Dawes after hearing Time Spent in Los Angeles, off of their second album, Nothing is Wrong, and have been a fan ever since. It was North Hills (debut album) and Nothing is Wrong that I loved the best (and still consider both quintessential), but when All Your Favorite Bands came along, and I heard the album played live the day of the album’s release (read my review here), it became something more than my favorite of theirs, it became something more personal to me, more intimate, the way only music can. It is one of those albums that I love from start to finish, and can listen to, over and over again, without it wearing thin. The songs hit me deep, hitting on my own sentimental nature, speaking to my penchant for nostalgia, and my own complicated feelings about love and relationships.

There is a cynicism in the songs that feel like the consequence of “time spent in Los Angeles”, and of growing up. There is loss in the lyrics, but there is also gain, even if the gain seems to come in the colors of forgiveness, understanding, clearer view post-breakup, and a not so easy to admit weakness for certain people that would leave a door open, despite one’s best intentions, to take that one person back no matter what. I think we all have it, those weak spots for people, and I think we also all come to some resolution with others. The ability to reach that point where you can look back without screaming, or crying, and say “okay, I get it now, even if it’s too late for it to matter” are here in the songs. There is also so much love here, too, even if it hurts sometimes to love, even if you can only love at a distance, or in a never-ending sense of “maybe, someday”.

The only thing I wish this album had was Duane Betts, who was amazing as part of the band at the live show I saw. He added a dynamic, and some fantastic guitar solos, that I miss on the record.

This album makes me think. This album makes me feel. This album makes me want to listen to it, over-and-over again.

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My Top 5 Favorite Songs:

1. To Be Completely Honest

“To be completely honest,
I think I know how it ends.
The universe continues expanding,
while we discuss particulars of just being friends.”

2. Somewhere Along the Way

“She was my lullaby personified,
my vision in the mist,
but her contacts were all promoters and a westside therapist.
The 5ams,
the worried friends,
the parting of her lips.
But I needed to witness someone wrestle with what it means to just exist.”

3. All Your Favorite Bands

“I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be,
I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever,
I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me,
And may all your favorite bands stay together.”

4. Now That It’s Too Late, Maria

“There will always be a part of you that’s with me,
And you sure as hell had better feel the same.”

5. Things Happen

“I can’t help how I feel,
I don’t think anyone can.
Sometimes we’re lovers,
sometimes we’re friends;
behold the magnetism between two dead ends.”

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3 thoughts on “Quintessential Albums :: All Your Favorite Bands :: Dawes

  1. Their new album has a Jackson Browne sound to it that is hard to explain, in fact when I heard the 2nd song “Somewhere Along The Way” playing in the store I thought it must of been something new from Jackson Browne.

    Must be that self-confessional LA songwriter thing, that has always seemed to frame most of the LA sound.

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