Try as you might to avoid the heinous hippie-cliché "cosmic" when describing the music of I See Hawks in LA, when the melodies, lyrics, harmonies and licks take over, you'll find yourself lost in some greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts moment. The Hawks' new disc, California Country, would make an appropriate score for Thomas Pynchon's Vineland: The pace is trance-inducing, the stories transfixing, the vibe completely Californian. "Slash from Guns N' Roses" doesnÕt just mock L.A. life, it bitch-slaps the entire concept of West Coast pop, and "Barrier Reef" is the best anthem to Cannabis sativa since "Humboldt" (from the previous Hawks record, Grapevine). These guys even have the cojones to snipe at the Lone Star State in the form of "Houston Romance" (which they swear is mostly true). And, really, who could disagree with a lyric like "Texas City, Corpus Christi, it's not the humidity, it's the humanity / it's not the insensitivity, it's the insanity / Corpus Christi, Texas City"? This will also certainly be the only alt-country disc this year to contain a line like "Nixon was headin' to that big white house / and the bombs would soon be droppin' on the children of Laos." Seldom has there been an album with such joyous music-masking, such corrosive, acid-etched lyrics. Way cosmic.