California-based roots rock band Dawes were formed in the Los Angeles suburb of North Hills by brothers Taylor Goldsmith and Griffin Goldsmith (lead vocals/guitar and drums, respectively), Wylie Gelber (bass), and Alex Casnoff (guitar). They were previously in the band Simon Dawes, but after guitarist Blake Mills left the group, they changed the name (and added Casnoff, who was soon replaced by Tay Strathairn). Unlike the more intense indie rock sound they had as Simon Dawes, Dawes were heavily influenced by the gentle acoustic-based musical trappings and rich vocal harmonies of the Laurel Canyon sound (Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell), and also by the shambling, romanticized Americana of the Band.
After connecting with producer Jonathan Wilson, the group began participating in informal jam sessions at Wilson’s house with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, the Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench, and the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson. The loose feel of these get-togethers informed the group’s aptly titled 2009 debut, North Hills. The album was recorded in Laurel Canyon live to analog tape, which lent Dawes’ recorded sound an authentically vintage vibe. The band’s second album, 2011’s Nothing Is Wrong, had a similar feel to the debut and peaked at number 18 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart. That same year, the band had a pair of unique experiences: playing at the Occupy Wall Street protests and appearing as themselves on a prime-time network television show (Parenthood).
Stories Don’t End, the group’s hotly anticipated third studio album, arrived in 2013. Produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter), the album also featured contributions from the Goldsmith brothers’ former Simon Dawes bandmate Blake Mills. Recorded in Nashville at the esteemed Woodland Studios with producer David Rawlings (Gillian Welch, Old Crow Medicine Show), the Hub-issued All Your Favorite Bands arrived in June 2015. The well-received album reached number one on Billboard’s Folk Albums chart and number four on the Top Rock Albums chart, and helped raise the band’s profile.
In 2016, Dawes released their fifth studio album, We’re All Gonna Die. The album found them once again reuniting with longtime associate Blake Mills, who handled production duties. Included on the album was the leadoff single “When the Tequila Runs Out.” ~ Pemberton Roach