To call the Allah-Las a California band with a California sound — rooted in surf rock and sunshine pop — would only be half right. Allah-Las unites the East and West coasts, bringing those spacey elements of New York City’s Velvet Underground and tougher-nut garage rock into play. The L.A. natives — Pedrum Siadatian (lead guitar), Miles Michaud (rhythm guitar), Matthew Coreia (drums) and Spencer Dunham (bass), all of whom sing and write songs — just released their third studio album, “Calico Review,” this month, bringing a sound of a California that’s no longer dreamin’.
“Each person has their own influences,” says Dunham. “Me, personally, the songs I contributed deal with Hollywood and modern celebrity. My songs are ‘200 South La Brea,’ which is about the reality of the Hollywood Dream, and ‘Famous Phone Figure,’ which is about internet fame.”
The Hollywood Dream needs little explanation, but to a native like Dunham, Hollywood dreamers are a peculiarly naive set. “Not that people born and raised in L.A. are better or more well adjusted,” he adds. “But there’s a certain element climbing the social ladder in less than wholesome ways.”
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The Allah-Las might not be chasing the Hollywood Dream, but it recently came to their door when actor/director James Franco contacted them about scoring his movie, “The Long Home.”
“He reached out to us cause he liked our album,” notes Dunham. “They gave us scenes and we went back and forth. I haven’t seen the movie, it’s coming out soon I think.”
“The Long Home” is set in 1940s Tennessee, a long way from the Allah-Las 1960s and 1970s musical roots. “Calico Review” was recorded in Los Angeles’ historic Valentine Recording Studio, which closed in the late '70s with everything intact. The gear, the decor, even a coffee cup or two, all just left there. It reopened earlier this year offering a time capsule of L.A. in its heady rock days. The band not only used vintage gear, but also experimented with a Mellotron, an early synthesizer and a mid-'70s prog rock orchestra in a box.
“It added a unique element," says Dunham. "We used it on 'Famous Phone Figure' and it takes the song away from just acoustic guitar and drums and being this pop song, and puts it in a creepy kind of space."
The Allah-Las perform at Baby's All Right in Brooklyn, Sept. 16 and 17; Brighton Music Hall in Boston, Sept. 18; and at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia, Sept. 19.