Show preview: Kick off October with some Dawes at the Englert Theatre

Dawes’s album North Hills peaked at #23 on the Billboard Heatseeker chart. — photo by Michael Basu

This Tuesday sees the return of Dawes to Iowa City, this time entertaining the Englert on October 1 at 8 p.m. The easy-going folk rockers look to play favorites for longtime fans as well as properly introduce themselves to those who may be catching them for the first time.

I may be the only one, but doesn’t it seem like Dawes has been around forever? This is by no means meant as an insult, for I personally consider it a positive to not be able to remember a time before I was aware of the music of L.A. roots influenced folk rockers led by the Goldsmith brothers. Maybe it’s from their ’70s-heavy style of smooth rock rounded out by distorted guitars and harmony-rich vocals, or maybe it’s the relatively emotionless, yet deeply observational and subtle lyrical content of their songs. Regardless, Dawes has become a mainstay in the folk rock scene since 2009’s breakout album North Hills, propelled by a clear understanding of their strengths, including thoughtful songwriting and an energetic live show.

After the success of their debut, Dawes has subsequently released two additional albums over the span of four years, each to different results. 2011’s Nothing Is Wrong was met with majority praise, with critics considering the band one that was in the midst of simultaneously finding and expanding their expertise as retro rockers, refreshingly adding a nostalgic element to their own brand of folk tunes. However, despite acknowledging their influences, Dawes found themselves worried of the dangers of being pigeonholed into niche genre that may leave them unable to experiment and sought to make sure that their third album included a bit of the unexpected. And with a relocation from L.A. to North Carolina and the recruitment of established producer Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Norah Jones), Dawes released Stories Don’t End earlier this year to mixed reviews. The changes were noticeable, yet ultimately not overpowering enough to qualify the album as a distinct change in sound.

And that is not a bad thing. What remained intact have always been Dawes’ strengths, including tight production, solid musicianship and Taylor Goldsmith’s keen eye for often-overlooked subjects that make for thought-provoking rock. And by blurring the lines between exciting and thought-driven rock, Dawes is sure to put on one of the better shows of the IC fall season.

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