The Dying Californian
Gig Seeker Pro

The Dying Californian

Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"SF Weekly review"

" pretty and delicate as the abstract image on the cover of We Are the Birds That Stay, the band's addictive first full-length. It's ultimately the urgency and beauty of Nate Dalton's voice that drives the group, with the singer's impeccable phrasing and his rasp tugging at something in your chest. Seriously: At Dying Californian shows, squint-eyed tough guys with sideburns talk about how the music touches their hearts. " - Hiya Swanhuyser, SF Weekly - SF Weekly, Hiya Swanhuyser

"Zero Magazine Review"

The band is powerful live, and how great it is to hear the peculiarly honest, catchy, emotive sentiments captured here in true form. It's country in spirit, with a soul not in twangy pedal steel but rather the raw, husky vocals of singer/guitarist Nate Dalton. The melodies are dusty and endearing, equal parts barroom camaraderie, introspective laments, gunfight dramatics, and lonely high plains adventure-all with a modern lyrical bent. Most have an uncanny way of grabbing your heart with their sincerity, Rhodes organ accompaniment, and varying guitar parts, not to mention hearty distortion and snappy, aggressive percussion in all the right places. You pick this album up, partner, and your inner indie rock drifter will be thankful." Ryan Schmidt, Zero Magazine - Zero magazine, Ryan Schmidt

"Lost at Sea Review"

"'My Heaven Knows No Reign' is the album's centerpiece. It rides on a softly encouraging melody with Dalton's voice soaring above. As the band intensifies the rhythm, they keep a steady central riff, showing an extra ounce of restraint. The song is pristine, minimalist, and even uplifting..." - Lost At Sea - Lost at Sea

"Splendid Review"

When I was in high school, my best friend moved to Cincinnati, so when summer break came around another friend and I took a trip out to Cincy to hang out with our displaced friend. As there are a finite combinations bone structure, complexion and hair styles in the world, we kept running into people in Ohio who were doppelgangers of people we knew back in Upstate New York. Of course, we assumed that these Ohio look-alikes would have the same attributes of the New York versions we all knew because they bore some resemblance to them.
The same thing happens in music all of the time. A certain part of an artist's style, voice, lyrics, whatever, reminds a reviewer of another, and an unbreakable link is forged. Yes, The Dying Californian's Nathan Dalton sounds a lot like Jeff Mangum and his band's mellow self-reflective sound, but their music, their motif is surely their own. There are times in "Prairie Fire" when you'll expect Scott Spillane to chime in with some horns, but it never happens. Once you get over the fact that The Dying Californian's vocalist sounds like someone else, you'll realize that you're listening to a band that plays the hell out of their songs, but with just enough restraint to make you sit up and take notice. Someone else with a less esoteric knowledge of indie rock might make a connection with REM on "Phobos and Deimos", but in the end, isn't that just shorthand for earnest alt-country? The point is, it's a rare band these days that doesn't sound derivative of someone else. There's been a lot of good music made over the past five decades and deference to the past isn't a bad thing.

The Dying Californian established their markers on their debut, and are now filling out the potential shown therein. The epic ballad "Long White Hair" settles in and takes you on a six minute journey, mesmerizing you with beautiful chord changes and seducing you with atonal vocals that grow on you like overnight dew. "Longer Nights and Shorter Days" shows off the band's more populist leanings.

We Are the Birds that Stay may occasionally remind you of some of your favorite bands, but the album's strongest moments won't. With each listen, those vague resemblances of other acts recedes further, and you're left with a unique and compelling record whose songs slowly build to a simmer and saunter on their way to the sublime.

-- Steve Nelson - Splendid Magazine

"SF Bay Gaurdian Feature"

Lay up nearer, brother, nearer

For my limbs are growing cold

— "The Dying Californian"

A man's last testimony to his brother before perishing at sea, "The Dying Californian" is a mid-19th-century tune that documents the dark side of the Gold Rush. The early 21st-century group the Dying Californian takes its name from the song, which brothers and bandmates Nathan and Andrew Dalton first heard when their sister played an arrangement of it for their family.

"My brother and I were raised listening to the same music and singing together," Nathan Dalton says, as a candle casts a flickering light across his face while we drink beers in a booth at the back of the Attic on 24th Street. "We somehow know who is going to do the harmony and who is going to do the melody."

It's twilight. The Impressions mourn an ex who loves somebody else and Maxine Brown cries out "Oh No, Not My Baby" as Dalton breaks down the basics of his kin's musical background: piano and guitar lessons, a father into George Jones and Merle Haggard, an older sister with three degrees in music, and a shared love of family acts ranging from the Carter Family ("Sara Carter isn't putting on some diva act") to the Carpenters. "They get a bad rap," he says of the latter. "You really have to listen to [Karen's] voice."

Listen to Dalton's voice on the Dying Californian's 2003 album for Turn Records, We Are the Birds That Stay, and especially on an upcoming 12-song follow-up for the same label, and you'll conclude that Karen Carpenter–lover Mark Eitzel has a worthy heir apparent. Not since American Music Club released California in 1988 has a band tapped so potently into a type of sound that tastes good with liquor but can also make you drunk with melancholy even if you're on the straight and narrow.

"On the new record," says Dalton, "I'd changed the lyrics of 'Blur Just the Same,’ but Liam [Nelson, the group's producer and extra guitarist] stopped the recording and told me the old lyrics resonated with him so much." Dalton switched back to his original words, and the result is a great yet understated lament — one with a bridge that takes the type of blurred-photo imagery that horror movies use for jolts and instead makes the ghostliness tearfully sad. It's one of more than a few moments on the record with a spiritual underpinning — the Dalton brothers know their share of hymns.

"The first band that blew me away and made me feel like 'That's what I want to do' is early R.E.M.," Dalton says as the bar grows darker. "There's something spooky about Murmur and Reckoning and Chronic Town. I've always been attracted to haunting music like that.” The brothers have flipped roles somewhat since their years with the punk-inflected Troubleman Unlimited band Nuzzle. Nathan plays guitar and sings melody on the Dying Californian's recordings, while brother Andrew plays keyboards and harmonizes. They're joined by Nelson, bassist Simon Fabela, and drummer Ricardo Reano. While they excel at ballads, the new, as-yet-untitled, record's "Second Shadow" proves the group can also unleash a cage-shaking rave-up.

Framed by the Dalton brothers' "oh-oh" harmonies, the Dying Californian's upcoming collection builds upon the rustic handsomeness of We Are the Birds That Stay, which features cover art by filmmakers José Luis Rodríguez and Cathy Begien. Over the past few years, the Dying Californian's music has been a fixture of the movies Begien shows at the Edinburgh Castle's Film Night. "God bless Cathy," says Dalton. "We've been friends since our college days. It was strange seeing the video she made for our song ‘Madrugada’ [at the Edinburgh]. My voice was booming and I was sitting in the audience watching their reaction. That movie she made about her family [Relative Distance] must be so tough to watch with a crowd — she's gutsy."

Dalton moved from soundtracking Begien's movies to also starring in one, Separated by Death. He played — surprise, surprise — a ghost. "I know [Cathy's] work, know her, and know what she likes," says Dalton. "She can convey this feeling to me that I put into music.... She wants to do a whole [feature-length] musical. We can do it."

Dalton has lived in California most of his life, long enough — and far and wide enough — to know that "most people in Northern California have definite opinions about LA, and people in LA are just kind of oblivious." I tell him that a friend of mine once made this observation to me after a stereotypical Mission hipster threw attitude at him upon hearing he was moving back to LA. "That's why LA wins," Dalton agrees with a laugh. "It says, ‘What? You hate us!?’”

The Dying Californian's leader can also break down the individual qualities of the state's major cities — the isolation of Santa Cruz, where most of his friends have moved from, or the quiet darkness of Berkeley, where he lives now with his wife and 16-month-old son. That domesticity and Dalton's new surroundings spurred the recording of - San Francisco Bay Gaurdian


The Dying Californian - self titled debut CD Ep- Turn Records (turn007) 6 songs

The Dying Californian - "We are the Birds that Stay" - Turn Records (turn010) 12 songs

The Dying Californian - "Coarsegold" - Turn Records Release date April 10th, 2007


Feeling a bit camera shy


You have to go back about ten years to find the beginnings of The Dying Californian. Starting in Los Angeles, then onto Santa Cruz, California, four boys playing in a band called Nuzzle. The six years that Nuzzle was a band saw them release two full length LP’s, four 7” records and several compilations tracks on independent labels such as Troubleman Unlimited, YouthStrikeChord and Zum. Touring the nation several times and the west coast relentlessly, the boys opened for countless bands, some of whom went onto much success, some regrouped and reformed and some, sadly, fell apart. It was in early 2001 when Nuzzle found itself on the brink of falling apart as well.

With the boys’ musical taste changing, the music they were making was changing too. More attention was being paid to songwriting, melody and harmonies. With this came the birth of a new band, The Dying Californian. The same four boys, Nathan Dalton, Andrew Dalton, Ricardo Reano and Simon Fabela, now moving along a new but familiar road.

In 2002 an independent BayArea record label, Turn Records, released The Dying Californian’s self titled debut EP to pleasing reviews.

“Dreary, rootsy ballads mixed with classic California pop. Their sound and influence has definitely matured beyond the conventions of indie rock.” -Epitonic

One year later The Dying Californian released their first full length offering, “We Are The Birds That Stay,” again on Turn Records, to even more glowing reviews.

“Their intimate style may draw comparisons to the more introspective end of The Elephant Six posse, but The Dying Californian are in a league of their own...”, featured review.

“Lazy and mournful with a voice similar to Hayden with a lonesome guitar. The band comes in, bringing out a countrified indie rock movement, like Pavement doing a mellow Willie Nelson, or Guided by Voices with some Johnny Cash. It’s a highway drive through the rest of the album, with the end of the road hitting far too soon.” -The Big Takeover

Now with newest members Liam Nelson and Aaron Shirk, the band has completed its second full length record entitled “Coarsegold” to be released April 10th 2007, once again on Turn Records. And already it is receiving high marks from local press.

“Not since American Music Club released California in 1988 has a band tapped so potently into a type of sound that tastes good with liquor but can also make you drunk with melancholy even if you're on the straight and narrow”- Johnny Ray Huston, featured article- San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Three years in the making, the album marks a jumping point in the bands signature style and sound, refined and redefined.

The story of the album starts 3 years ago when Nathan Dalton, the primary songwriter for The Dying Californian found himself with a new job that had him traveling throughout California, staying in a variety of different places, often, for weeks at a time. On one lengthy trip, Dalton found himself holed up in the small town of Coarsegold, the geographic center of California. Niether northern or southern, western or eastern, simply Coarsegold, California - a town existing somewhere in between. It was here that Dalton found a new center for his own writing, influenced by the stark contrasts of California as well as the isolation and inspiration that only come from being on the road. He began to pen a new record; handheld tape recorders, lyrics on napkins, music on motel notepads, whereever he could find to write it down, he would. Coarsegold, the geographic center of California, the heart, also serves as the pinion for the record.

The sound of The Dying Californian is rooted in American tradition, influenced by country and folk as much as rock. With floating melodies and complex harmonies, it is difficult to place it into a specific genre. It is as much at home in a drunken hootenanny as in a late and lonesome night. It all just fits.

Coarsegold is that, an album of contrasts, mournful and celebratory, defeated and hopeful, all the while earnest. It is an album of the heart, despite what it might be telling you. It is a celebration of the little voice inside.

Having already toured the nation and west coast, sharing the stage with the likes of Grandaddy, American Music Club, The Magnolia Electric Co., Sufjan Stevens, The Silversun Pickups, Love as Laughter, Preston School of Industry, The Mystic Chords of Memory, Film School, Norfolk & Western, The Court and Spark, Xiu Xiu, Ladyhawk, Little Wings, and Thee More Shallows, 2007’s release of “Coarsegold” will insure that The Dying Californian will be tirelessly touring in support of their new record.