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I See Hawks In L.A.

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California-based I See Hawks in L.A. pursue a kind of cerebral, witty, and at times refreshingly silly alt-country path along the lines of earlier California country-rock bands like the Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, and the Byrds, following the template of what Gram Parsons once called "cosmic American music." Formed in 1999 by Robert Rex Waller, Jr. and brothers Paul Lacques and Anthony Lacques, at first I See Hawks in L.A. were strictly a loose recording outfit, but after their self-titled debut album was released on the now defunct Ethic Records imprint in 2001, the positive critical reaction convinced them to start doing shows. A second album, Grapevine, appeared in 2004 from Western Seeds Records, followed by California Country, also on Western Seeds, in 2006, and both releases received well-deserved praise for the band's clever, fun, and often politically and environmentally charged songs (most of them written by Waller and Paul Lacques) and impressive three-part harmonies (sung by Waller, Lacques, and bassist Paul Marshall). The band's lineup has been an ever evolving thing, but has generally included Rob Waller on lead vocals, guitar, and Dobro, Paul Lacques on vocals, guitar, and Dobro, Paul Marshall on bass and vocals, Dave Zirbel on steel guitar, Cody Bryant on banjo, Rick Shea on mandolin, Brantley Kearns on fiddle, and Shawn Nourse on drums, with numerous names from California's alt-country scene contributing frequent guest spots. A fourth album, Hallowed Ground, was released early in 2008. ~ Steve Leggett

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