The Top 50 Albums Of 2012: #40 Allah Las
Allah Las’ ‘Allah Las’ was listed at #40 in The Fly’s Top 50 Albums of 2012. Read the list here.
Like a good old Hugh Grant rom-com or a hammer horror thriller, sometimes the classic plot lines are the most reliable. The story of Allah Lahs – California’s latest psych-tinged, garage rock outfit, comprised of Miles Michaud, Matthew Correia, Pedrum Siadatian and Spencer Dunham – is not exactly remarkable. Having met whilst working together in super hip LA record store Amoeba Records, they bonded over a mutual love of 60s groups (“We were listening to a lot of garage rock and a lot of LA bands like Love and The Byrds,” notes vocalist Michaud, not unsurprisingly) and then decided to form a band of their own. So far, so obvious.
But, whilst their tale might not be anything special, their music most definitely is. Melding all these influences and adding a touch of Stonesesque grit to proceedings, ‘Allah Lahs’ (their self-titled debut LP) is an album that hones their niche so perfectly it immediately wound up amongst our favourite records of the year, despite only coming out this month.
“When we first started playing, it was easier to play more aggressive, louder rock because that made it easier to get crowds started. But as we got better at playing our instruments and better at singing and playing together, we digressed from that and embraced songwriting and craftsmanship rather than high energy,” explains Michaud of the album. “It was a lot punkier when we started, a lot more yelling instead of singing – well, I guess it was just bad singing. Now it’s more melodic. We play our instruments very well and we try and get energy from different things than just playing loud and fast.”
And whilst the record very rarely gears up any faster than ‘mildly stoned’, there’s an undeniable tautness within the louche jangles and hazy keyboard sounds that keeps things ticking over with pop precision. From the opening salvo of ‘Catamaran’ and ‘Don’t You Forget It’, that recall the Black Lips’ tighter, more restrained moments, to stand-out single ‘Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind)’ – all Jagger vocals and hypnotic guitar play, it’s an album that’s both incredibly in and out of time (check the likes of Temples and The Proper Ornaments for other current purveyors of Arthur Russell-indebted melodics). ‘Busman’s Holiday’ lilts with an almost Doors-y dark heart, whilst ‘Sacred Sands’ sits pretty as the LP’s midway instrumental, managing to completely encapsulate what this band are melodically about without losing any punch.
Theirs is certainly a sound that follows a precise, well-loved cannon, but Allah Lahs might have a few surprises up their sleeves in the future…
“We also really like Can a lot,” Michaud shrugs. “I don’t know if it’s influenced us consciously, but I feel like any music you’re into makes its way in there one way or another. It’s just a combination of everything in our heads and channeling that into our own creation.”