Simon Dawes

Simon Dawes


When your show and songs are as musically and serially sneaky as Spoon, and as amusing and profound as the Kinks’, you’re giving anyone who still sees music as the crux of art and communication cause to weep joyfully. - HARP MAGAZINE


Simon Dawes are a band… named after no one. Though they’re mostly just creaking into being twenty-one (bassist Wylie Gelber is barely 18), you could play their new record Carnivore for anyone and tell the most insane lies about it: reissue of some lost rock artifact, unknown bootleg side project containing a member of Traffic, Pavement and The Kinks - and they would all be believed. The young men in Simon Dawes are scholars and hard workers, taking a musicologists rock diet and making it alive in relevant in ways it hasn't been for millions of years.

Guitarist Blake Mills and singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith are a viciously precocious songwriting combo -- Davies brothers from different mothers — while Wylie Gelber and Stuart Johnson form a rhythm section as unlikely and unheard of as Rick Danko and Keith Moon. For Carnivore, they took forty-some songs they'd demoed on one mic in Johnson's house and tenderly bled them down to a tight fifteen. Five days of studio sessions couldn't match the energy of what were originally intending as practice tracks recorded at producer Tony Berg's house, so most of Carnivore is actually a happily haphazard set of wild live rehearsals. "For most of the record, we didn't realize we were making a record," says Mills. But it turned out to be the perfect circumstance for a debut full-length that not only doesn't lose the early fuzzy lo-fi lovability that got Simon Dawes the infamous “Black-Flag-plays-the-Beatles” comparison but amplifies it into an album that says as much for that beautiful stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway as The Kinks did for Waterloo Station.

It's a record that matches the ramshackle power of Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers (an album Mills admires for its deliberately fucked-up feel: "I think every band should exercise that right," he says.) to ambitiously sophisticated indie-pop warhorses like Spoon or Pavement. Goldsmith has generations of musical heroes in his head alongside writers like Henry Miller, whose uncompromising self-analysis inspires some of Simon Dawes' above-their-age lyricism on songs like "All Her Crooked Ways" or "Salute The Institution". "There's a bravado that can be found in every song, but at the same time, it's underlined with this sort of self-effacement," he says. "You can't tell if we’re making fun of ourselves or if we actually mean it—which is kind of nice.”

It's all in the details with these guys; songs put together so carefully that new pieces keep swimming to the top with every listen. There’s an anything-goes feel and a dedication to the unexpected that puts dots of harmonica or fuzz guitar or handclaps or chant-along choruses or everything you'd never think to include on just about every single song. "If it works, don't argue with it," says Mills.

They're doing a million things at once and they aren't falling down on any one of them. And they're still tiny babies in the dinosaur scheme of things too—the boy geniuses of a new Los Angeles. Live, they are a machine beyond their years— with the kind of heartfelt professionalism that almost died out when rock bands started demanding deli trays. You'd think every band around them would just surrender in shame...


CD/LP - Carnivore 2006
CD EP - What No One Hears 2005
CD EP- Simon Dawes 2005