"And as I drive on through these canyons, I'm still feeling like a crook If I don't find peace in the valley, I've got no place else to look." - Dawes, "Peace in the Valley."
Lately I've been spending a lot of time listening to artists who are recording their albums live to analog tape in lieu of the typical heavily overdubbed digital recording process. Dawes is one such band that stands out for their classic songwriting style, inspired musicianship and simplified arrangements.
Led by brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, the creative and musical direction of the California-based band seems to draw much influence from CSNY, Jackson Browne and The Band. At the heart of this folk-rock-soul band is a gifted singer-songwriter whose lyrics tell intricate stories in a communicative fashion that feels familiar and comfortable, but also unique and inspiring.
In 2009, Dawes recorded their debut album, "North Hills," to analog tape in a small studio in Laurel Canyon, earning them critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, who called the band's sound "authentically vintage." Since North Hills, Dawes has released "Nothing is Wrong" in 2011 and just recently unveiled "Stories Don't End" on their own label, HUB records.
Dawes is currently on tour in support of Bob Dylan in his "Never Ending Tour," a jaunt that runs through the Northeast for much of April.
On a more regional level, I've been listening to the guitar-driven sounds of New York City-based band Leroy Justice. Justice is a soulful, roots rock outfit that delivers a distinctively southern rock punch, with writing that is ultimately based in folk rock lyricism and contemporary story lines.
Singer-songwriter Jason Gallagher's soulful voice and jagged guitar picking sounds great cast against the dead-steady rhythm set by drummer Josh Karis and bassist Bradley Wegner. Next week, Justice unleashes their first major label release, "Above the Weather," featuring experimental rock-fusion guitarist Justin Mazer.
Both Mazer and Gallagher are from the Wyoming Valley, but the band plays most of its shows in NYC. The band has shared the stage with members of Gov't Mule, The Black Crowes, Levon Helm Band and recently did their own residency at the famed Brooklyn Bowlin New York City.
For more information about the musicians, visit dawestheband.com or leroyjustice.com.