Posts Tagged ‘Allah-Las’

PAINT

The solo works of Pedrum Siadatian don’t fall too awful far from his day gig playing with Allah-Las —swiping at a kind of lived-in ‘70s aesthetic and feeling like his albums might soundtrack a lost weekend stumbling through the sands of a no account beach town out of season. Yet there’s a warbled color to his approach. The Allah-Las feel like they have a handle on modern motions. There’s a reverence for the past, sure, but still a crisp cut to their sound. Siadatian’s work with PAINT by turns comes across like a box full of waterlogged Polaroids. The colors are smudged, but the memories are still visible through the haze. That he started the band as an outlet for 4-track experiments certainly adds to the loner, private press quality that hangs over his songs like a macrame owl. Though in deference to his first outing, Pedrum has let his sequel progress past the bedroom ambiance that hangs over his debut.

The record sways on its feet, but it never falters. Siadatian saves his wooziest songs for PAINT, mixing slouched stringwork with chunky keys and crisp bass. While the private press tag felt right on target for the debut, here there’s more of a patchwork mixtape feeling. Faded cotton pop songs populate the bulk, touching on the edges of surf, but just as often he’s swaying into Middle Eastern pop, tax shelter one-off wonkiness, and a touch of packaged library music within the loose ends of the album. While the debut hit me squarely in a soft-spot for rough-edges, the quick spit-polish here actually endears this one all the more. The debut was excellent but felt like it needed just one last push. That push is wholly in force on Spiritual Vegas and it’s keeping this locked on the speakers more and more often. Las fans should flock to this, naturally, but any takers from Ariel, to Drugdealer, to The Bees should feel right at home.


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PAINT – “Land Man”

Another sun-bleached single stumbles out from Paint and it warbles around the speakers like an LP that’s been slightly cooked by the sun. The hooks and charms aren’t deadened by the slight slip of the needles, though. The ode to life on dry land updates a version that Pedrum Siadatian, penned for the 10 year anniversary LP that MexSum put out a little while back and this version is fuller with a bit more curdle in its milk. Hooked on a spiraling guitar riff that curlicues through the speakers with an irradiated swagger, the song is pretty much all I’m looking for in a PAINT tune. The LP is headed to the turntable on July 10th and it should be crawling up that wantlist after this single takes a few spins through the speakers.

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Paint – “Ta Fardah”

Good to see the announcement that Pedrum Siadatian (Allah-Las) has a new solo LP on the way under his Paint moniker. He struck out solo under the name briefly in 2010, but really kicked it into motion with an eponymous 2018 LP that perfectly fitted the sandblasted psych that the Las trade upon into an Ayers, Barrett bag with a bit of Rundgren thrown in as well. The record was produced by fellow L.A. scene-haunter and studio wizard Frank Maston, who’s no stranger to crafting a very specific ‘60s sound. He crops up again to produce Paint’s sophomore LP and that sound is still threaded through the excellent first single “Ta Faradah,” a soft-psych spinner that nods to Siadatian’s Iranian upbringing with nods to Middle Eastern psych and funk winding its way out on Finders Keepers and Soundways these days. In addition to Maston behind the boards band also features members of White Fence and Sheer Agony, giving the record a nice sheen that spills way beyond just the sounds here. Its a bump up from the last one, and I loved that, so keep this on your radar for July.



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RSTB Best of 2019

2019’s drawing to a close, so I suppose this is the place to tie it all up. I’ve mentioned in years past that ‘best’ is a hard line to draw around the music from the year. From a blog perspective ‘favorite’ seems more appropriate, but then for all intents and purposes my choices are qualitatively the best to me, if not necessarily quantitatively best in the sense of the zeitgeist. The drive to figure out what’s best seems to just consolidate consensus and we’re all treated to dozens of lists that cross over with each other, especially in the top spots. I’ve long been a proponent of niche. I say long live finding your voice and letting others find theirs – we can all compare notes and discover new music in the process. I don’t need anyone to sand the edges and offer up a list that’s all inclusive. I like the edges. These are my favorites from a great year, edges and all.

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Allah Las

Been a few years since Allah Las issued that last foray into the surf-splashed waters of their sunshine soul and their latest, LAHS, arrives not a moment too soon. The band has long been buttered by a carefree approach to garage, folk and psychedelia, but the new LP seems even more soaked in the languid love of the West Coast sounds than ever before. The songs here don’t fuss or grumble. The Las long ago threw their watches into the surf and let them float away. When the sun dips low they know it’s time to head to the covered patio perch that drives the night. Skin tightened by the sun, but never burned, this is the soundtrack to communal Mezcal flights – melding the salt air with the salt rim as the fingerpicked guitars burble in the background.

While the vibe is wholly Californian in nature, there’s also a sense of travel and wanderlust in the bones of LAHS. They take their relaxed attitude with them while they ramble on to the next locale. The band sparked the match on this particular sound with the soundtrack to the surf doc Self Discovery For Social Survival – turning the oceanic churn into musical motion – and they continue to fan the flames here. There’s a natty, ‘60s sense of properly buttoned, yet relaxed style to the album. The smells of linen and leather waft on the breeze. The yurt they hunkered down in is communal and the days are without itinerary. Even if you can’t get away, LAHS can act as a 45-minute microcosm of vacation and leisure.

Allah Las are the guides, shifting off the path and immersing the listener in a sea of unfamiliar voices – utilizing Spanish and Portuguese to add a new dimension to their songwriting. The veil of anonymity slips over the traveler in a new land and it is as comforting as the menagerie of spices that fill the air, balanced with damp wood and that familiar snap of salt on the wind. It’s the tie that binds. No matter where they roam, the sea is always lapping at the lashes of an Allah Las record. The band slips the ties between George Harrison, José Mauro, Curt Newbury, Curt Boettcher and UK folk group Heron, weaving together an album that exudes ease from every pore.



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Allah Las – “Prazer Em Te Chnhecer”

Been a good week for hazed psychedelia and ever new trickle out of this Allah Las album marks it as one of their best. The lackadaisical, sunny swing of “Prazer Em Te Chnhecer” slings a set of Portuguese vocals onto a sun waxed surf slider that’s baked in the afternoon sun. There’s not a worry in the bones of the song, instead marinating the days last rays in Mezcal and contented sighs. The song’s title translates to “Nice To Meet You” and that cheerful veneer and welcoming spirit buoys the track throughout its three-minute ramble. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Keep your ears out for the Las new one on October 11th.

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VA – Self Discovery For Social Survival

When word of this comp first came down, I mentioned that this was an ambitious undertaking, to say the least. That’s a bit of an understatement. In an age of shrinking profits its rare for a major to take on something this lofty, let alone a (rather largish) indie. Mexican Summer paired with Pilgrim Surf + Supply to send three groups of professional surfers, film crews, and a band to score each of the sessions as they were shot. The idea was for the bands to pick up the vibes of the day and translate them into accompaniment that completely absorbed the mood of the film. As far as an overarching goal, the soundtrack succeeds on all fronts, but better than that, it holds up on its own merits even if the listener isn’t also immersed in the film.

The first portion of the film sees US and Australian surfers travel to Mexico and with them in tow are the Allah-las. This trip is marked by amber-hued sun streaks. Everything seems a bit faded and worn-in. The Allah-las capture the ease of the session, laying back into a lounged vision of surf that’s classic and propulsive. They’re the kind of songs that could waft into the background and instantly ease a mood. There’s a feeling of communal living, irregular schedules, and a quiet cool that rumples itself into the notes. The scenes in the film are aided even further with the addition of titling and animation by Robert Beatty and Bailey Elder, who give this section a ’69-’72 timestamp that soaks into the seams along with the music.

From there the film transitions to The Maldives, with the majority of the segment taking place aboard a houseboat. The tones turn from sepia to crystal blue and with it the mood is given a lift out of the melt of Mexico. Peaking Lights add a dub shimmer to the section, half party, half hallucination. There’s an opulence to this portion, but not to the point of indulgence. It feels like a vacation – fleeting in truth, but forever in the moment. Peaking lights have moved away from their xeroxed dub roots and here they’re headed for more Arthur Russell territory. They give this portion its sense of detachment from reality, helping to freeze each pane into a picture of unattainable bliss.

While on the topic of otherworldly, the last section of the film takes the viewer to Iceland, a venue I’d never thought of as surf destination. Here Conan Mockasin and Andrew Vanwyngarden (MGMT) accompany a group that traverses the grey-streaked, mountain-strewn landscape. All the warmth of the previous sections is stripped away and, accordingly, Mockasin and Vanwyngarden give their songs an icy edge – lonesome, melancholic, half-remembered. Here the vistas almost outpace the surfing for attention, with scenes among the northern lights soundtracked by the pair’s psylocibin disco and light-touch folk feeling like a dream that couldn’t possibly have happened. There’s none of Mockasin’s usual twisted bravado. Instead the music is almost fragile – haunted and hollow at times. This trip and its tunes feel like a journey inward, not the communal experience of the other groups.

The three main bands aren’t the only ones to hold sway over the soundtrack and film, though. Dungen give an especially inspired take for the title sequence that’s born out of their wistful psychedelia. It laps just slightly at the roots of surf, while essentially embracing its own genre. Transitions between sections are given an ambient fizz by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, who evokes a submerged sound under lush animations, which are again provided by Elder and Beatty. Sadly, missing from the soundtrack is the offbeat wisdom and roadworn poeticism of Jonas Mekas, whose narration ties the film together with a non-sequitur sageness. It’s likely that you might not encounter the film, though I’d recommend it for surf aficionados or unfamiliar friends alike.

Even without its visual partner, the soundtrack exhales ease, hope, sadness, solace. As a counterpoint to the film its pretty perfect, but it’s a great mood lifter on its own merits. As I mentioned, they don’t make projects like this anymore, might as well enjoy when someone goes all in for you. It’s somewhat telling that the label has reissued the score to Andrew Kidman’s Litmus, Self Discovery for Social Survival acts as a spiritual successor to that film and its unique accompaniment. Often hailed as the best surf film of its generation, the label has seemingly done the same for the the 21st Century. In this, they’ve created their own Litmus.


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Self Discovery for Social Survival:
Surf Film + Soundtrack

Quite and interesting one coming down the pike (so to speaK) today in the form of a super ambitious film and soundtrack from the folks over at Mexican Summer. Now Sum’s reissue arm Anthology has been digging into surf culture for a while, issuing vinyl versions of Tully and Tamam Shud LPs that tied into Aussie surf culture while also reissuing soundtracks to Andrew Kidman’s Litmus and Glass Love surf films and packing them into a high-end box. Seems only natural then that someone over there was going to push it one step further. That step included getting top surfers from the US and Australia to travel with three groups of musicians and films crews to three top surf spots. The completed film follows Allah-Las and their surf group to Mexico, Peaking Lights and theirs to the Maldive Islands and Conan Mockasin & MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden with a group to Iceland. Each group then composed songs as reactions to the days surfing footage which is cut together with narration by filmmaker Jonas Mekas and art and animation from Robert Beatty and Bailey Elder (who also provide the packaging for this artifact).

Add to that extra pieces from Dugen and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and this is a fairly unique package. I’m no surfer, never stepped on a board in my life, but the scope of this and the breadth of talent involved is frankly pretty intriguing. Plus, the psychedelic shimmer of the soundtrack stands on its own, even if you never witness the fully combined efforts. Check the trailer above and keep a lookout for this sucker when it comes out June 14th.

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Paint

L.A.’s Allah-Las trade in their fair amount of ‘60s shaded nostalgia, and while they’re usually brimming with a decent dose of homegrown appeal, the solo stint from ‘Las guitarist and songwriter Pedrum Siadatian makes his mainstay sound positively modern by comparison. The faded photo trappings are most certainly by design. Siadatian is reaching for the hidden bins that house the hometapers, the 4-track quiet geniuses and the unstable imps of the acid-blotted paisley past. Helmed at the production desk by the similarly inclined pastiche painter Frank Maston, he crafts an album that seeps up from the humble hovels of R. Stevie Moore and F.J. McMahon sounding like its never seen so much as the door to a proper studio. That’s not a complaint mind you, the pair are aiming for a record that could easily slip between the cracked covers of the private press gold rush and blend in seamlessly and they’re pulling it off swimmingly. Siadatian’s clearly done his research and delights in creating something of a crumpled homage.

Paint catches the same prism-bent dusty sunshine that revs up the cardboard kaleidoscopes of Kevin Ayers, Danny Graham and Billy Nicholls. Siadatian makes it seem effortless, but I get a sense that he and Maston have gone to lengths to meticulously craft an air of economical wonder to match these low-key touchstones. Maston doesn’t push the project too hard, or imprint himself as heavily as one might imagine given his own passions for the past. Instead of coifing this record in lush brushstrokes of the Library psych he’s so fond of, he’s let the backroom hiss and bedroom sleepiness linger. Just because the mics are bedroom bound doesn’t mean this thing is totally sparse, though. The songs are still adorned with brain tangling backwards guitars, satin organs and flute swells, but the sounds are stuffed into the spectrum like they were tracked in tandem, stuffed into a third-floor apartment.

Paint has the feeling of a one-off curio, which are oftentimes the best records. It remains unclear if this is to become a new avenue for Siadatian in the long run, or just a way to shake out some private press psych impulses. Either way he’s ticking a lot of boxes on the RSTB favorites list and the album elevates itself to be more than just style over substance. It’s a well-conceived diorama of psych that creeps under the skin time and again.



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Paint – “Daily Gazette”

So, in general, the phrase Allah-Las solo project peaks my interest. Call it a trigger, if you must, but the thing that hooks me in here is that on top of the SoCal garage pedigree lies some production by Frank Maston. Maston’s albums of spot-on Library psych are intriguing to say the least, but when paired with a more traditional model, he’s laid the works of Pedrum Siadatian in to a frothy pocket that’s flecked with sea air and nonchalance. Siadatian’s songwriting is bleary, smudged, and unhurried in a way that begs for the aching expanse of the West Coast. While Ariel Pink might hold the ’60s xerox-pop crown, that’s not to say there aren’t other subjects in the realm. Paint’s first offering sits well within the same context, its imbued with jocularity, imbibed and exhaled with a cocked eybrow and slight smirk, but its refreshing all the same. What remains to be seen is how the rest of the album stacks up to the street corner swagger of “Daily Gazette.” For now, though, this is just the respite we all need.

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