[Abby’s Road] California Dreaming

So. It’s been a while.

Holidaymaking. Flying. Travel. Hurricanes. Not necessarily a time when one wants to be writing anything but a handful of postcards. Moreover, I was (also) cursed with a five-alarm case of writer’s block. Everything swimming around in my noodle was non-music related (far from it). I needed music’s medicinal value, yes, but I didn’t feel like mulling it over or jotting anything down about it. I just wanted to listen. Simple, really. Anyone would have been bored with what I had to say. So thanks for hanging around and reading again. Right.

While I was off exploring the cradle of western civilization and, later, revisiting my roots (read: lazing about in a cheap rented flat on the beaches of Crete and then drinking copious amounts of wine in my hometown for a 3-week visit) I listened to a lot of music, read some books and relaxed. Perfect. There was, however, despite locale and continent, one resounding musical thread throughout my autumnal journeying: Allah-Las.

My initial discovery was via Austrian radio months ago, hilarious given their quintessential American sound. Their self-titled, full-length freshman offering is a lot of things. First and foremost, this California foursome wears magnificent influences on their sleeves: Byrds, Pet Sounds, Love…60s SoCal psychedelic garage pop. Even better? They transmit those influences succinctly and supremely well. Produced by R&B renaissance youngster Nick Waterhouse, Allah-Las is 40 minutes of the best American guitar-pop from a young band I’ve heard in ages. Dare I say the record of the year? Yeah. I’ll go there. It’s mine at least. Tied for number one for sure. But I digress…

Secondly, as a shoegaze and twee pop classicist, I’ve always absorbed and embraced Beach Boyish, Byrdsian sounds for their jangly quality. Naturally, my ear is drawn towards such reverberations, regardless of when they were recorded. Listen up Shop Assistants and Pastels Fans – Allah-Las have that jangle. Could they have been pressed by the likes of Sarah or Creation a few decades ago? Absolutely.

Here’s my issue: I honestly haven’t the foggiest idea how this record isn’t completely blowing up in the US. Like major-big. I mean, is it? Am I misinformed? Have my US music friends in the know, albeit busy with kids and work, failed to report something back to me? Please..let me know. I attended their sold-out Munich gig earlier this week, a double bill with Nick Waterhouse. A supreme evening with not a spare ticket to be found online or from touts on the street. They exude Americana and are devoid of blips and bloops; nothing obtuse about them. Though I’m breaking it down (that’s what I do here), there is no explaining needed prior to listening. NO concept, no loops or samples. Extraordinary, guitar-centric music. Done. How refreshing. I’ve missed it. Spread the word.

Personally, this record came along at a perfect time. It lives and breathes as a new entity; I’ve never heard these particular songs before. That said, the nostalgic warmth and ease attached to Allah-Las is a relief. The familiarity sleeping within the lyrics and instrumentation is a reminder to not always long and stretch for the things I don’t have; just rekindle the appreciation of what I already love. Words to live by…on many levels.

Happy weekend.

[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]

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