Dawes is the new quintessential American band. They are sponges, soaking up the sounds and feelings of their predecessors. They sound like four guys who grew up sitting at the feet of Neil Young and Levon Helm, memorizing everything they ever said. On their sophomore album, they build on what they started with North Hills. Nothing is Wrong is an emotional rock album that makes perfect sense. You have definitely had these emotions, you just didn’t turn them into awesome music.
Simply put, Dawes is the new Laurel Canyon sound… And the new Laurel Canyon sound is not that different from the old one. A little more polished, a little more self aware; Dawes has got it down. They are a perfect mix of angry gritty guitar, heartbreaking lyrics, gentle acoustic guitar, and a sound that you and your fifty year old dad will both love. On their new album removed comma the California based quartet gets just a little bit cleaner. The harmonies are strong, the organ is a little louder and the feelings are just as real as you remember.
The album starts with the track Time Spent In Los Angeles. Dawes reminds us that there are people in L.A. that aren’t movie stars or assholes with too much money. Some of the best rock and roll from the seventies came from just outside of Los Angeles. Surely there must be some “special kind of sadness” that comes from L.A. Without ever going to L.A. the listener understands. There is something sad and empty about that city. The song is up beat and almost poppy, but like the city it is describing, that is only the first layer. once you get a little deeper you realize this is a sad song about a bummer of a city.
The second song, If I Wanted Someone, starts with a disgruntled electric guitar and a strong forceful piano. This song is someone who just had a bad day at work. It is an honest mans song about what he really wants. A relationship is what we need it to be. This song is about a man who needs help getting through the day. The chorus is a list of things the singer doesn’t need out of a relationship. The piano and guitar solos are both a release of frustration. Earlier in the song Taylor Goldsmith sings, “the words I say can be silver, but whats left unsaid can be gold”. This is the gold.
Songs like Million Dollar Bill and So Well are reminiscent of Crosby Stills and Nash. Slow and unwinding metaphors span the songs. Quiet harmonies make you close your eyes. Gentle acoustic guitars strum in the back ground. These are sad nostalgic tracks that remind you of someone you probably never knew.
Other parts of the album feel new and free wheeling. The song How Far We Have Come is uplifting and picks up the more morose tracks that surround it. It’s a good sound for Dawes. This is a song that would be fun to sing along with in concert. Free wheeling guitar picking and lyrics about bright stars and oceans shores are a nice change of pace. The same can be said for The Way You Laugh. These are not the best songs on the album, but they keep it from being to heavy. They are nice light tracks that make you smile and tap your foot.
Dawes have some real heart. You can hear the honesty in their lyrics and music. They mean what they sing. Nothing is Wrong takes the sounds of their first album and make them a little more full and clear. The eleven track album flows well. The somber, painful tracks are balanced out by the free spirited lighter tracks scattered throughout the album. This is a great album to listen to with your dad with and drink beer.