Release Date: Sep 9, 2016
Record label: Mexican Summer
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Garage Rock Revival
Noting the tapping into of auditory wormholes from yesteryear is hardly a revelation when talking about a band like the Allah-Las. The Los Angeles quartet positively ooze with the reverbed vibes of Southern California psych rock ‘n’ roll, and continue toying with the template on their third LP, Calico Review. Recorded at the legendary Valentine Recording Studios, in the bowels of Studio City in LA, Allah-Las immersed their already-written tunes in the aural baths of their idols.
After two albums of desert-parched, reverb-caked garage rock revivalism, it might seem like the Allah-Las were due for some kind of drastic change. Apart from jumping from one cool record label (Innovative Leisure) to another (Mexican Summer), the four guys in the band have maintained a steady course of minor-key jangle, relaxed Zombies-like balladry, and the occasional tambo-shaking rocker on their third record, Calico Review. A lesser band with fewer sneaky hooks up its sleeve or a sound that wasn't as locked down as this one might have suffered for putting out three albums that have such a similar feel and sonic footprint.
Psychedelia is too often viewed as a music of escape. It is too easy for over-simplified histories of rock and roll and its many sub-genres to uncritically quote the “Tune in. Turn on. Drop Out.” mantra and move along to the next scene. Such cliched histories equate the “drop out” element ….
Despite being direct heirs of folk-rockers extraordinaires The Byrds in their laid-back West Coastness, Allah-Las always seem more detached from the vicissitudes of the real world than their pioneering ancestors. Their music is about letting go and being beautiful. Their songs soundtrack the act of embracing what is given to you as if it were the most precious treasure in the world.
Ethereally planted as if from another era, Allah-Las’ sound could just as easily echo from a sprawling desert as it could a garage in California. The LA four-piece make music that evades time or place, classic stylings engaged with a clear cut modernity. A sun-scorched soundtrack to movie perfect scenes, ‘Calico Review’ is enthralling in its splendour.
The obviously Californian Allah-Las work with the same palette of burnt sienna, golden tones and honeyed hues on record number three, Calico Review. The album continues to touch on the sounds of their favourite decade, the '60s, following the sun-kissed journey through the desert of their eponymously titled debut and their western-tinged followup, Worship the Sun.The Allah-Las — a collective of former employees of the record store, Amoeba Records — are traditionalists. They put together Calico Review at Los Angeles' Valentine Recording Studios, which has remained aesthetically untouched since 1979 and can be credited for this record's warmth and the proverbial yellowing around every song's edge.
The West Coast band Allah-Las has often been lauded for its members’ refined set of influences, and more importantly their ability to merge and present them cohesively, often aptly linked by critics to the many hours its members spent working in Sunset Boulevard’s famed Amoeba records store. In a recent interview with The Guardian however, the band expressed frustration, or rather a now tired indifference, with the habitual defining of the band by their so-called 60s revivalist tendencies. While their frustration is understandable, so is their tendency to be pigeonholed; the band create garage rock in which sounds from specific cities and eras float to the surface like answers in an 8-Ball.