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The Allah-Las – Once Upon a Time in Los Angeles

By Tony O.

Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” taps into the myth of Hollywood in Los Angeles in the mid-late 60s as an idyllic oasis, but it likely was as he shows it for the hippest filmmakers, the grooviest bands and their groupies, etc. The LA bands of that era and its milieu are thus still influential and most obviously in the group Allah-Las, from LA of course, as carriers of the torch.

Allah-Las are playing at Lucerna Music Bar for a night of mid-60s LA good vibrations if you seek it.

The LA bands that live on, or at least deserve to live on, include most importantly The Byrds, Love, and Spirit as early and obvious influences of the Allah-Las for that lighter psychedelic rock sound.

The Allah-Las are Miles Michard (vocals, guitar), Matthew Correia (percussion, vocals), Spencer Durham (bass, vocals), and Pedrum Siadatian (lead guitar, vocals), and their self-titled debut album in 2012 best captures the “60’s LA sound,” a laid-back vibe that good Southern California living still may have to offer in its shady labyrinth of smaller houses and cottages in the hills above the sprawling city.

This life is harder to find as developers devour the hills and canyons with McMansions, not to mention Manson and his aftermath there. And so, the Allah-Las have an admirable determination and resilience to maintain an LA sound natural to its roots, and perhaps it should never be retired despite the times.

Three of the four Allah-Las met while working together at Hollywood’s Amoeba Records, which is housed in an architectural gem that has an exterior like a giant Johnny Rockets diner, right on Sunset Boulevard, though this building is soon to be razed due to developers’ plans to build a residential tower.

Their other releases include “Worship the Sun” (2014, Innovative Leisure), and the last two are on the Brooklyn label Mexican Summer: “Calico Review” (2016) and “LAHS” (2019). Of these “Worship the Sun” is closest to their original sound, while the newest one is the most nuanced, perhaps their best.

“LAHS” is still a mellow psychedelic-rock, but it’s a deeper or more introspective sound with twists and turns or with tricks up their sleeve, such as “Royal Blues” which seems like a sly reworking of the melody to Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” with an odd exotic chant, original rhymes in English, and an overlapping monologue in French. There is also “Prazer Em Te Conhecer” which is a cover of a Brazilian pop-dance song, but in the hands of the Allah-las, it glides in a weird Americana. The last song on the album, “Pleasure” is sung in Spanish, possibly as a simple nod to their hometown.

Overall, “LAHS” is a rich collection of original songs, neo-psychedelia with an upbeat bounce, as on the trance-groove “Star” or the meandering and breezy “Light Yearly” recalling The Seeds or CSNY, or stretched out jams as by the grand-dad of LA psychedelia, Frank Zappa (“Willie the Pimp”), who else?

They also have original music on the surf film “Self-Discovery of Social Survival.” It’s a cool neo-surf psychedelia where the Allah-Las, among two other experimental groups, created a live score inspired by the waves and award-winning surfers in remote locations. With tracks Mulberry Jam, Raspberry Jam, Blueberry Jam, and Blackberry Jam on the film’s soundtrack, they should play these “jams” too.

Where: Lucerna Music Bar

When: Oct. 19, doors open at 18:00

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