I know why some of you are snickering. Not because of the quality of this particular song, but because of the infamous Dawes Meme that took root in the A.V. Club a few years ago.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, a quick bit of backstory. A few days before Nothing is Wrong came out, the A.V. Club posted a short Newswire by Steven Hyden piece called “We love the new Dawes album and here’s why you should, too!” It was a short piece praising the new record and linked to a promotional video.
While the AVC staff have always maintained that the article came from a place of love, to a large swath the AVC commentariat, this post felt a bit too much like sponsored content — what us oldsters used to call “hype” — and there was a huge fuss, especially at first. Almost instantly, this fuss turned ironic, and commenters had great fun talking about how amazingly awesome Dawes was and comparing every other artist to Dawes. And finding them all lacking.
Naturally, while the whole thing probably exposed Dawes to people who otherwise would have never heard them, it also meant that others would never like them no matter what. Of course, by 2011, I wasn’t spending a whole lot of time in the AVC comments section, so I missed all of this at first. I thought that Dawes debut, North Hills, was pretty good, and I thought Nothing is Wrong was pretty good. Most of all, I think that lead singer Taylor Goldsmith sounds too much like Jackson Browne for me to ever love them.
Except, of course, “Time Spent in Los Angeles,” which belongs to one of my favorite sub-categories of songs: “Songs About How Living In Los Angeles Sucks Out Your Soul.”
Over a melancholic folk-rock groove — the kind where you notice the Hammond organ more than just about any other instrument, even during the guitar solo — Goldsmith sings the gorgeous chorus to what you presume is a gorgeous girl:
But you got that special kind of sadness
You got that tragic set of charms
That only comes from time spent in Los Angeles
Makes me wanna wrap you in my arms
Official video for “Time Spent in Los Angeles”