National Music Reviews September 2016

Review: Allah Las – Calico Review

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Allah Las
Calico Review

Mexican Summer
Street: 09.09
Allah Las = (The Growlers + White Fence) ^ Beach Boys

Allah Las hit us again with another nostalgic piece of rock n’ roll. On this sophomore release, Calico Review, the band endeavors with poppy backbeats, a fair dose of experimentation and their usual throwback to the sounds of the ‘60s. But what most noticeably surfaces after a little research on the record is their use of the same soundboard used on The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. You can see that they are trying to hone in on surfacing those classic tones, especially given that they used obscure instruments like a theremin and a harpsichord. Using tools like these, they were able scrape up lots of fun new tones and vibrations, giving the record a new yet relaxingly familiar cadence. “Autumn Dawn” softly dances around the harpsichord with a bass and a nice beat before embarking into its verse and choruses. A big trait this album works for is getting the most it can out of each tone while slowly evolving obscurity into a sweet, new familiarity; it’s a nostalgia that crept up gradually before I realized it was right in my face.

“Terra Ignota” bounces throughout its duration on a beat up a trail of sensuous guitar and ambience. It helps me resurface old memories of listening to Grizzly BearsShields. This album is great not only because of its ability to relate to the music from half a century ago but also to resurface music of the past decade. I hear traces of Ty Segall, White Fence, Bass Drum of Death, The Growlers and even The Strokes all being summed up in this single record. It’s sentimental but touts a modernity that comes bursting out of the gates of 2016. “Satisfied” and “Warmed Kippers” create fresh vibrations and a keen similarity to those early ‘70s records from the likes of The Beatles and The Kinks while sparking something original. They’ve brushed off a little of the psychedelic glaze of the ‘60s but are still creating sounds that are vibrant and colorful.

Nostalgia, however, is often accompanied by a stunt in growth. This record does such a great job of fact-checking itself with the ‘60s that it sometimes forgets to look ahead. The music starts to fly a little too close to the sun in “Could Be You.” Listening to it, you could swear the band was trying to write a B-side to The Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll” or maybe even their outtake “I Can’t Stand It.” I won’t deny that it’s an incredibly catchy and fun track, but I’m weary of how familiar it is. Thankfully, however, that’s as close as the record gets to melting and losing its own shape. The rest of the album stands on its own apart from the expected sentiments, and it’s hopeful that this record’s perfect execution in mixing old tones with new ones will encourage rock to finally get over the ‘60s. This album really should be the capstone to psychedelic emulation and finally close the book on that portion of rock n’ roll’s life cycle. It was a lovely period and is still a lovely genre, but the problem remains that too many bands are trying to handle psychedelic subject matter—although, with this new release, I am pleased. Allah Las have lived up to and even gone beyond their own standards. I hope, with the success of this release, that they will find the courage to continue taking larger and larger steps in their career. –Austin Doty