A band like Allah-Las couldnt come from Brooklyn. They couldnt be from Austin or Portland or any other hipster-band enclave across the country. Theyre just too California. And while the Los Angeles quartet draws on a unique mixture of psych-rock, folk, surf, garage and a dusting of the Bakersfield sound, its unmistakably SoCal—a Byrds / Surfaris bastard child birthed onto a bed of Afghan Kush in Topanga Canyon.
The bands latest, Worship the Sun, picks up exactly where their 2012 self-titled debut left off. The guitars are still clean and jangly. The laid-back beats again induce plenty of head nodding. Healthy doses of cinematic instrumentals and lush harmonies are still front and center, while the continued inspiration of women, waves and weed keep the vibe loose and in complete accord with the music.
Its the kind of record perfectly suited for watching the sunset melt into the Pacific during a drive up the coast. Just dont mention that to guitarist Pedrum Siadatian. He hates that shit.
Im sick of hearing chill beach music constantly, he tells CityBeat from a recent tour stop in Texas. That one is especially annoying to me. I think it cant be helped when people are saying the same thing about you over and over. But Im sure everyone in the band has his own unique gripes. It just makes me not want to sound like that at all.
Its doubtful that Allah-Las will drop a black-metal or mariachi record anytime soon, but there is a direct line to his exasperation. Siadatian, bassist Spencer Dunham and drummer Matthew Correia formed the band when all three were employees at Amoeba Records on Sunset Boulevard (vocalist Miles Michaud joined later).
Especially for a music-store worker, having your art constantly reduced to the equivalent of a category placard has to be frustrating. But its also something thats served the band tremendously well. In just two quick albums, Allah-Las have etched out a distinct sound thats directly tied to their own geography. And theyve done it through the unlikely paradox of being an act thats both forward-thinking and vintage. Theres a palpable air of timeless California chic to the group and their songs, and it doesnt stop with the music.
From their gorgeously minimalist marketing campaigns to their weekly Reverberation Radio podcast, the band oozes West Coast cool—even if they arent trying very hard.
I think were kind of weak on promoting ourselves, Siadatian says. We dont really bombard people with that stuff. But I guess were attempting to make a collective consciousness with our fans. Its more about imagery and things like the Reverberation we do. We want to bring people into this world of appreciation for great things in the past. But were just promoting the things we like, both aesthetically and through our music.
Part of the credit, at least for the music, can go to Nick Waterhouse. No stranger to vintage cool himself, the L.A. artist and producer is a college friend of Michauds who took interest in Allah-Las after seeing them play live. He ended up producing the bands debut and co-producing Worship the Sun.
Dan Horne picked up the slack on the latter, producing much of the album in his Echo Park garage / studio over a period of a few months. Horne and other friends, like percussionist Jeff Luger, have been rounding out the live shows.
Although the extra players help to replicate Worships expanded sound, Siadatian has found that it injects new energy into the old songs, as well.
It really helps, he says, especially with stuff from the first album that weve played a million times. Its great to have someone else on stage adding their own touches. It just invigorates the songs for us. It helps to fill it out.
Allah-Las play Dec. 12 at The Casbah
Things come full circle as the current five-piece closes out its 2014 tour with a run of dates on the West Coast. Itll be a welcome change for a band that Siadatian says has been freezing our bones off in the sun in recent weeks.
The new year is bound to have plenty of additional tour dates, but it will include work on new music, too. For fans accustomed to being transported to a 72-degree day in the City of Angels when Allah-Las hit their earphones, this is welcome news.
We write songs in all kinds of ways, Siadatian says. Its good when whoever is writing can fully realize what they want to say and present it without making it into a full sound. We actually come up with a lot of ideas during sound check. We figure out quite a lot of things when were just riffing and messing around. Theyre all there. And well definitely be working on the ideas we feel are good enough when we get home.
Correction: This story originally referred to the band's live percussionist as Jeff Feruzzo. It has been corrected.
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