Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It's said a lot because it's so accurate: You're not going to find a more helpless creature than a human baby. When we all come out of the womb, we're nothing. We can't do a thing for ourselves, for the longest of times. We're just a bunch of drooly fakers, resigned to have our heads propped wisely and our pants changed every few hours because nothing comes out when it's supposed to. Meanwhile, little deer fawns are wobbly, but already mobile. Most other creatures are able to function on some minor level - feeding themselves and being able to support their own body weight. It's a pity that we start so helpless and weak, but then again, one could claim that we don't make as much rapid improvement as we might think we do. You could even go so far as to suggest that we all remain entirely dependent upon the kindness, assistance and companionship of others for our own healthy welfare for all of our lives. It never goes away. It might not be completely necessary, but there's a reason that break-ups (some of them) are impossible to get over, being alone drives us into a shade of madness and when people we love pass away, we're destroyed by it for a much longer period of time than any other animal would be. It's not at all a negligible insistence that we only cosmetically shed the tags of those needing round-the-clock love and affection or we take to loneliness as if we'd always been attracted to it, but had just now fallen out of another relationship and it was suddenly okay to follow the attraction into another room. North Hills, California, band Dawes (featuring members of an old Record Collection group that went by the name Simon Dawes) has made what is hand's down one of the finest records of 2009 and it is blooming with all kinds of reflections and bafflingly intelligent shreds of wisdom that could only come from four people so taken with the idea that we're only as strong as the company we keep, the person we go home to at night, every night and the family that we treasure regardless of any of its flaws. The songs that Taylor Goldsmith writes are ravaged by scars and bandages and the kind of golden and ripe sunshine that somehow manages to cancel out the scars and the bandages when the light is just right. He writes such sensational poetry that you find yourself getting caught up entirely in his wordsmith talents and the group's devilishly perfect harmonies that emboldens it all that it's absolutely enthralling. He makes a person want to quote an entire song, to live by it. His words change your breathing habits. Take for instance these two lines from "When My Time Comes." "And now the only piece of advice that continues to help is anyone that's making anything new only breaks something else," he sings with an era's worth of sorrow and dreadful depression in his throat, just before some sort of rejoicing flare of optimism comes onto the stage. Then he takes some of that same cynicism and makes it prettier still when he sings, "You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks. Yeah, you can stare into the abyss, but it's staring right back," and there's not been lonesomeness or solidarity expressed so well. And we're talking ever. Futility is our plight, every one of our plights, or more so the railing against it - against meaninglessness and insignificance. It's our plight to be shaky as long as we're blinking and as long as we've got a beating heart. Dawes - which also consists of expert players Griffin Goldsmith, Wylie Gelber and Tay Strathaim -- is a perfect band and the ideal one to remind us that there lies in us all great capacity, but making it into something takes love and a lark.