Allah-Las: Analog Garage Rock With Actual Soul
Like it or hate it, it's hard to debate one key fact brought up by Ben Westhoff: "...most of today's 20 and 30-something bands from Silver Lake and Williamsburg sound shockingly similar. They're all playing variations of retro garage and soul music." (My take on the list? You don't get to laugh at anyone else if you don't laugh at yourself.)
Los Angles-based Allah-Las could fall easily into the nebulous "hipster" category. The band's forthcoming self-titled debut on über-cool L.A. label Innovative Leisure (due out Tuesday, September 18) indeed mines the dusty grooves of forgotten vintage garage and soul records, played by scruffy, good looking kids.
But if hipster means mediocre, boring, or lacking in captivating atmosphere, count Matthew Correia, Miles Michaud, Pedrum Siadatian, and Spencer Dunham out. Their full length debut, recorded with soulster Nick Waterhouse, rolls with roughed up takes on Byrdsian jangle, broke-down R&B, and slacker surf lull.
"We share a lot of the same appreciation for how things were done back in the day in terms of analog recording," Siadatian says of Waterhouse. "Our first record, our first '45 [featured] no digital recording [and] hand-stamped letters on the labels. Just little stuff like that that we both have an appreciation for."
The retro fetishism might sound like a "hipster" hallmark, but the analog warmth fits the songs like a broken-in leather jacket: "Catamaran" stomps like a Nuggets outtake from some frat-rock combo, "Ela Navega" rides a sublime Latin beat, "Catalina" excludes psychedelic charm not unlike early Fleetwood Mac's most ethereal moments.