Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY
20 September 2019
Allah-Las bring their laid-back Californian grooves to the bustle of Brooklyn on the eve of a UK visit. Their languid rhythms and sweet melodies win over a crowd including Tim Cooper.
It’s Friday night in Brooklyn and the bars and restaurants of Williamsburg are filled with dressed-down bankers and trust-fund hipsters are tucking into their $30 small plates and $15 cocktails. Inside the old pool-supply store beneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a younger crowd gathers around the El Diablo taco truck in the beer garden. Onstage, The Allah-Las are partying like it’s 1969 in Laurel Canyon.
The Los Angeles quartet with the dangerously bad name (two years ago Dutch police cancelled a concert after foiling a plot by Islamic terrorists to bomb the show and I have a friend who actually avoided listening to them precisely because of the name, only to discover eventually that he loved them) are as steeped in ‘60s nostalgia as the furnishings of Union Pool.
Three of them met while working at the legendary Hollywood record store Amoeba on Sunset Blvd, while the fourth – front man Miles Michaud – is a school friend. It’s safe to assume they spent their days behind the counter immersing themselves in the psychedelic sounds of obscure ‘60s garage bands from the West Coast because when they subsequently formed a band of their own a decade ago, they sounded exactly like one.
They look like one too: front man Michaud boasts the brooding good looks of Zac Efron, specifically in his recent movie role as serial killer Ted Bundy, while the others, who all sing at different times, have the sideburns and partings, if not the fringed jackets and cowboy boots, of a vintage LA ensemble like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
They start the show by delving back into their own more recent past, with two songs from their 2012 debut album – Sacred Sands and Busman’s Holiday – before unveiling the first of seven from forthcoming release LAHS, already favourably reviewed here, Prazer Em Te Conhecer allowing drummer Matt Correia to shine vocally in his native Portuguese.
In a set evenly drawn from each of their three previous albums, they also find room for George Harrison’s Fish On The Sand from his 1987 swansong Cloud Nine (and their own 2017 covers EP). They rarely stray far from their default setting of languid jangles that would fit neatly on the Velvet Underground’s legendary Live 1969 album: Michaud setting the tone for Pedrum Siadatian’s carefully picked guitar lines in front of the gentle grooves laid down by Correia and bassist Spencer Dunham.
But recent B-side Brittany Glasz makes a nod towards the The Byrds with a 12-string jangle reminiscent of Roger McGuinn, while Raspberry Jam, from the soundtrack of recent movie Self Discovery For Social Survival, swings with a slide guitar that gives it a country flavour, and Roco Ono (from the new album) showcases a bassline that veers close towards funk, a contrast to the insistent shuffle of In The Air, sung by Siadatian.
The set concludes with their very first single, Catamaran, from way back in 2011: eight years on, it still fits neatly into the ouvre of a band determined to evolve, much like their music, at a leisurely pace that reflects the sunny climes of their California hometown.
UK Tour Dates:
Friday 27th September – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Saturday 28th September – Gorilla, Manchester
Monday 30th September – Thekla, Bristol
Tuesday 1st October – Rough Trade East, London (7pm show and signing)
Wednesday 2nd October – EartH, London