Local Wire

I See Hawks in L.A.

On their third album, the core members of I See Hawks in L.A. are joined by Chris Hillman (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers), Rick Shea (Dave Alvin Band) and other heavies from L.A.'s alt-country gang. It's the songwriting of the principal bandmates, though, that grabs your attention. Lead vocalist and guitarist Rob Waller, and Paul Lacques — who supplies the high harmonies and plays lap steel, Dobro and guitar — craft memorable melodies with lyrics that conjure up the dreams and nightmares of Californians past and present. "Raised by Hippies" blends bluegrass and rock to look at the past through slightly jaundiced eyeglasses, while "Slash From Guns N' Roses" is a sea chantey for people shipwrecked on the shoals of the Sunset Strip — a dark song delivered with considerable humor. "Hard Times (Are Here Again)" is an acoustic country-blues cut that nods to Woody Guthrie's working-class poetry, with Hillman's mandolin fills and Lacques' wailing Dobro adding to the song's hopeless melancholy.