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