Allah-Las – s/t

Rating: ★★★☆☆

I’ve really been wrapped up in the Allah-Las since I first stumbled upon their early 7″.  The group seems to encompass everything about the musical history of California, harkening back to the state’s glory days, which may or may not leave the band with some detractors.  Their self-titled debut lives up to my expectations, though it does seem to get stuck in one place for a bit too long.

If you run straight through the first several tracks, you’re going to get the exact feeling of this debut by Allah-Las. “Catamaran” opens with a wayward psychedelic jangle, employing gang lyrics to provide an extra bit of emphasis.  It includes a chorus of “I want to hold your hand/I want to be your man,” which seems to epitomize everything my father taught me about falling in love with the 60s.  “Don’t You Forget It” has a bit more of an angular guitar line, but it still seems to have that Eastern guitar sound popularized during the hey-day of Haight Ashbury.  Don’t take this to mean that there’s nothing ultimately pleasurable in traversing the annals of history, as the group makes it their own, especially when the guitar brightly dances off on its own.

For me, the standout track comes after the group takes an instrumental break with “Sacred Sands.” “Sandy” is perhaps one of the best songs the group’s put together.  There’s an effect on the gang-vocal section that creates more intimacy with the listener, which isn’t always present on the rest of the lyrical development throughout Allah-Las; it’s almost as if they’re all whispering in your ear.  Throw this in with “Catalina” and you can clearly see that re-hashing isn’t the sole purpose of this record.  The group’s inspired by their home state, as the latter song indicates.  It’s percussion perfectly fits with the mood of the record, matched evenly with the swirling guitar work and the fluid vocal approach.  It all leads up to album’s last track, “Long Journey,” the song that I think most closely resembles my expectations and fascinations with the group.  At its heart, you can almost feel some acid-induced boogie, but here they slow it down to the most mellow tempo their style allows, giving the song and listener room to breathe.

For what it’s worth, I went out and bought this album.  I’m obsessed with the Allah-Las; I think no one out there has completely captured the sound of the California psych-garage scene quite like these guys.  But, that being said, their self-titled debut does lack a little bit of pace or a little bit of mixing things up.  A few instrumental tracks here and there do give you a chance to calm yourself, and that’s great, but perhaps a fast-paced jangler or a long-drawn out smoke-shop ballad would have made this record something out of the park.  Do yourself a favor though, and sit down with this record.  Absorb it, appreciate it, and you’ll definitely look highly upon this effort.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Allah-Las-Dont-You-Forget-It.mp3]

Download:Allah-Las – Don’t You Forget It [MP3]

New California Pop From The Reflections

This awesome new song “Summer Days” by The Reflections was just sent my way the other day and I think it’s definitely something worth your time.  It’s a breezy pop number that evokes the feelings of being on a beach in California, which the band would know a lot about being from L.A.  A solid release date for a new album from the group is not yet available, but we’ll be sure to let you know when we hear something.  Stay tuned.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Summer-Days.mp3]

Download: The Reflections – Summer Days [MP3]

New Pop Jam From French Cassettes

A friend of ours just tipped us off to this up and coming band French Cassettes the other day and I’m glad he did.  The band are a sort of jangly pop type who tend to have qualities similar to Mystery Jets early stuff or even a bit of Albert Hammond Jr. here and there  It’s a little bit immature at times, but still refreshing to hear a band that can have some pick up in their step.  This tune “Radley” is being promoted as a single for the group’s recently released EP Summer Darling.  You can stream that one in it’s entirety or even download for free over on bandcamp.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/French-Cassettes-Summer-Darling-01-Radley.mp3]

Download: French Cassettes – Radley [MP3]

New Folk Tune from Miner

One of the great things about running this site is when bands reach out to us for help, and then we get hooked.  Just such a thing happened today when I got this email from Miner, a California group who will release their Hey Love EP in August.  While primarily the work of Justin Miner, the depth of this song featured here wouldn’t be what it is without the work of his group, adding vocal harmonies in all the right places.  If you’re looking for a group who played sun-drenched folk with a sense of longing, then you’re going to really enjoy this track; I know I’ve had it on repeat for the better part of today.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Miner-Golden-Ocean.mp3]

Download:Miner – Golden Ocean [MP3]

New Folk Jam From The Shape Of The Earth

Just heard about this band The Shape of the Earth and have rather enjoyed the intense folk jams created by the Cali based outfit.  Their music at times kind of reminds of the louder songs created by Death Cab For Cutie back in their glory days.  The jam below “Telescope Eyes” appears on the band’s new LP Fire, Then Rain which is out now and currently streaming for free over on bandcamp.  Enjoy the tuneage.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/01-Re_Telescope-Eyes.mp3]

Download: The Shape of the Earth – Telescope Eyes [MP3]

Psych Rock Track from Allah-Las

Sure, Psych Fest just ended here in Austin, but I’m already trying to organize next year’s artists for the festival.  I’ve decided the first band they should pencil in is the Allah-Las, a hot group out of California.  After spending my weekend with music that blended together, I think there’s some distinction in the blend this band is playing, offering a cleaner spin on the genre.  Their second single, Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind) is something you’ll want to try and order from the group; I want you to take a nice little listen to the lead track from said single before you get your wallet out.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/01-Tell-Me-Whats-On-Your-Mind.mp3]

Download:Allah-Las – Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind) [MP3]

Chilled Out Rocker from The Shrouded Strangers

Feel as if I’ve been too mellow this week, so I’m glad I’ve got the opportunity to share this little jam with you.  The group’s called The Shrouded Strangers, a Cali by way of Virginia act, and they’re about to release Lost Forever.  You can grab the album from the group right now, and I suggest you do so, as it will definitely make your week.  Yeah, the track has a thick coat of atmospheric wash atop it, but beneath it all is brewing this incredible sunny pop element, perhaps influenced by the band’s move to the West Coast.  This is definitely the sort of track where you can just drop out and play it over and over again.  You dig?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/02-featherbed.mp3]

Download:The Shrouded Strangers – Featherbed [MP3]

Nice Bit of Dream Pop from Summer Twins

When you hear about two sisters singing together, you wanna be sure it doesn’t fall into the kitsch category.  Luckily, for the Brown sisters this is not the case for Summer Twins, who’ve just released their debut self-titled album on Burger Records. Seeing as the group hails from California, you’ll see some obvious sunny influences or likenesses.  Personally, I see the resemblance, but the vocals sound eerily like Zoey D.  It’s beneficial, as it gives the track a bit of clarity and brightness in contrast to the areas where we usually find a bit of hazy atmospherics, or as I like to call it: the indie auto-tune. Give this song a chance.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/SummerTwins-IDontCare.mp3]

Download:Summer Twins – I Don’t Care [MP3]

New Track from Young Prisms

Man, it looks like a solid year for Kanine Records, especially as they announce the release of the new album from Young Prisms.  The Cali band’s In Between, their sophomore release, will hit stores on March 27th.  One listen to the first single from this track, you’ll pretty much see where the “Floating in Blue” title comes in to play.  It opens with a nice bit of haze, then enter a light bit of female vocals to hold the song together.  Beneath all that, the guitars tie in a bit of melancholy, offering listeners a superb track they can play over and over again.  Go on, press play. And again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Floating-in-Blue-1.mp3]

Download:Young Prisms – Floating in Blue [MP3]

FT5: Songs About Heading West

Summertime is vacation time. Roadtrip time. So sweaty you stick to your chair my God why don’t I live in a more temperate climate time. So where do you go at a time like this? “California! Californiaaaaaa! Here we COOOOOOOOMMMMME!” Excuse me. I believe I slipped into the theme song of the O.C. for a moment. I thought about making every track on this list “California” by Phantom Planet, but I’m fairly certain I am the only one who would think that is funny. So instead, here a legit list of songs about heading out west. Enjoy.

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