Allah-Las - Tell Me [EP]
Allah-Las certainly play the part of late 60's garage band well; gigging practically before they had any real songs, acquiring a drummer who had never hit a drum in his life and putting him behind a $150 kit and then going on to perform as the house band for a bar in LA. They bear all the hallmarks of a band fit for the Nuggets compilation. Watch the video to 'Tell Me (What's On Your Mind)' and you'll see them kitted out with suits that probably cost as much as their instruments and playing with the kind of charismatic indifference that produced high pitch hysteria in female fans of groups like The Yardbirds and The Kinks. Meanwhile their press release points to their surfer upbringings, well worn fenders and dusty suede boots to convince us of their authenticity. However, pointing out that famously only Dennis of the Wilson clan actually surfed should be enough to convince you that ultimately what matters is the music.
Fortunately the Tell Me EP resists the temptation to use fuzz or any perceived lo-fi aesthetic as a shortcut to nostalgia, and instead sees Allah- Las resurrect the golden beach spirits of the late 60's through the strength of their own song writing, and one impeccably chosen cover version. Opener and first single 'Tell Me (Whats On Your Mind)' is infused with an imperceptible retro quality, indefinably captured with the help of San Francisco musician and producer Nick Waterhouse, the surf tinged garage lead bringing to mind The Seeds, while the line "I'm not getting half of what I earn" reminds us that some things never change. They follow with 'Sacred Sands', a mellow college band jam that leans more towards classic rock n roll than the psychedelic era, but nevertheless lacks some of the finesse of the opener.
'Catamaran' brings the EP back to life though with enough maraca and tambourine to make Bez's head spin, while vocalist Miles' raw delivery tempts you to sing along. Although be warned, mouthing the words with your headphones on is a sure fire way to puncture the veneer of effortless cool that this track deserves. More modern comparisons to The Brian Jonestown Massacre or Black Lips can be made due to the band's inherent attitude and the nasally vocals, which peak on the slowed down, swaggering cover of The Roots' slightly schizophrenic 1965 track 'It's Been a Long Journey': part soundtrack to beach-babe stalking, part psychopathic celebration, "I'm going down to the river to kill your daddy tonight" perhaps a foreshadowing of Jim Morrison's killer in 'The End'.
It's hard to judge on just four tracks, but the Tell Me EP is as self assured a recreation of garage surf jams as you'll hear. Allah-Las (great name by the way) also convey enough charisma to stand out beyond mere plagiarists and so could take their place on the strip alongside the best 60s revivalists around.
Purchase and listen
Allah-Las are pretty much all ex-Amoeba records employees, who had access to a vast collection of music. This fuelled a love of old 60s vinyl and Nuggets era tunes: "We wanted to make the kind of music we weren't hearing being made by contemporary bands, free of digital effects and synthesised sounds, groovy and danceable in a way that wasn't aggressive." [read more]
Allah-Las certainly play the part of late 60's garage band well; gigging practically before they had any real songs, acquiring a drummer who had never hit a drum in his life and putting him behind a $150 kit and then going on to perform as the house band for a bar in LA. [read more]