// Album Recommendation

Allah-Las

Allah-Las

(2012)

“Out on the water's where you're gonna find me
All alone with my mind, headed for a bounty…
I'm an oyster pearl locked up in a shell
You better bring that diving bell.”

The debut album Allah-Las by Allah-Las

Three of the Allah-Las’ four band members – all of them self-confessed music geeks – met while working at a record store in Los Angeles, where they shared their mutual love of vinyl and classic ‘60s music. In 2008, they decided to form their own group, fusing atmospheric American Garage Rock, Surf Rock, and psychedelic Jangle Pop (The Byrds, Love, The Association) with catchy, hook-laden British Invasion Pop/Rock (The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Zombies). Five years later – and hours upon hours of songwriting and painstaking recording sessions – the Allah-Las finally released their eponymously titled debut album to favorable reviews.

To replicate the authentic sound and feel of ‘60s Rock music and the aesthetics of that time period’s production values, the Allah-Las recorded the album using analogue equipment. Bassist Spencer Dunham: "For us to make the sound that we really want, we work a lot better in a studio setting with $3,000 microphones from 1953." And you can hear it in every little detail of this warm record, which sounds a lot like vinyl, albeit without the crackles and pops. The old-fashioned recording techniques worked wonders, resulting in a retro-sounding album that grabs and holds your attention from beginning to end – quite a feat in these modern times of “instant gratification” and “short attention spans”.

Of course, if this album had been all about surface and no substance, I wouldn’t be writing this review. So, while there is a lot of emphasis on atmosphere and “period charm”, there’s so much more to Allah-Las than that. The songs themselves are extremely well-written, arranged and played, instruments ranging from chiming 12-string electric guitars and thumping bass to quietly assertive drums, tambourine, maracas, bongo drums, and the obligatory organ and shakers, all wrapped in the appropriate amount of reverb. Like the dreamy album cover, these evocative songs conjure up images of Southern California, the beach, the sea, youthful romanticism, sunsets, and late night bonfires.

Catamaran sounds cool with its groovy guitar motif, its title a metaphor for escaping to that safe place deep down inside of yourself as a result of heartbreak (“Out on the water's where you're gonna find me / All alone with my mind, headed for a bounty…/ I'm an oyster pearl locked up in a shell / You better bring that diving bell”). The guy with the broken heart may very well be the same guy who appears in the proud, triumphant Don’t You Forget It. Having found a new, more meaningful love, he now lashes out at an ex-lover with superficial values and nothing interesting to say (“I think I've found a girl that I can talk to / Yeah, I think I've found a girl that just might replace you / She don't care if I got bread / And I remember the things she said”).

In addition to two stellar instrumental tracks – the breezy Sacred Sands and Ela Navega (the latter merges Surf Pop and Bossa Nova) – Allah-Las also features Catalina, a beautifully wistful song about still being in love with your ex-lover, as well as the first single released from the album, (Tell Me) What’s On Your Mind, a rumination on lack of communication and emotional depth (“Tell me what’s on your mind / ‘Cause I can’t find it”). Vis-A-Vis and Seven Point Five are both heavily influenced by legendary ‘60s group The Byrds’ layered sound of chiming 12-string Rickenbacker guitars, while Long Journey, with its staccato guitars and drum beat, rich bass and swaggering lead vocal, is the album’s toughest track. Allah-Las is a very self-assured and accomplished debut album and belongs in the record collection of anyone with a soft spot for the melodic Psych-Pop of the 1960s.

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