Published on March 1st, 2018


Last summer the Los Angeles band Allah-Las had a brush with death. The band canceled a show in Rotterdam in August, when suspects in a planned concert massacre were arrested by Dutch police acting on tips from Spain. This was on the heels of coordinated vehicular attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils that killed 14 people, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Before any of that, Allah-Las were already accustomed to explaining the band’s name to  people, including some who took offense. Formed in 2008 by singer/guitarist Miles Michaud with drummer Matthew Correia, bassist Spencer Dunham and lead guitarist Pedrum Siadatian, the Allah-Las are a patchwork of music styles and location-inspiration without a hidden socio-political/religious agenda.

“Allah-Las kind of came about as an homage to the ‘las,’ like the Shangri-las, kind of a nod to California kitsch; very tongue in cheek,” Michaud told AXS in 2017. “We put Allah in there as a reference to the Orientalism movement of the American West. A lot of California architecture and layout, palm trees in California, are a result of the Orientalist movement. … Also, it just sounds musical, Allah-Las. It sounds like a song.”

Somewhere at the crossroads of garage, psych, surf and 60’s rock ’n’ roll, Allah-Las find their comfort zone. Starting safe with 2012’s self-titled album but insinuating — by way of a cover image of a girl listening to a seashell — they would only grow and get better, they hit full stride with 2014’s “Worship the Sun.” Their third full-length, ”Calico Review,” takes the spirit of their collaboration and raison d’être to new heights (and to a new label, Mexican Summer).

Sophisticated and relaxed, “Calico Review” has the pop gravitas of the 60’s revival they’re attuned to and a balanced pastiche of each member’s personal taste. There’s a lot going on, with ornate musical landscapes reminiscent of the sense and spirituality evoked by the band’s name. It’s heartening to hear music with a clear sense of itself and the power to cut through the confusion, misunderstanding and hostility of our present age.

Allah-Las perform at Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival, which runs March 1 through  March 4. ~ Abel Folgar

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