Los Angeles’ Allah-Las have announced the October 13 release of their new album, Zuma 85. Today they share the first taste of the new album via the lead single and LP opener, “The Stuff,” b/w the title track “Zuma 85.” The glammy and electronic strut “The Stuff” signals the start of a new era for Allah-Las, and finds the band reinventing itself in defiance of the algorithmic categorization and robotic sterility. Showing another side of the album the instrumental “Zuma 85” features field recordings with chimes that precede Manuel Göttsching (Ash Ra)-style guitars, which drift aquatically over a motorik rhythm and hazy synths.
Sharing a name with “Zuma 85” is a photo of an abandoned house by California photographer John Divola. Selected by Correia, the band’s resident photography head and album art designer, it juxtaposes a visage of man-made chaos against the natural beauty of the West Coast. It served as an unspoken reference point for the album, a symbolic totem indicative of a new era.
“‘The Stuff’ is a tongue-in-cheek ode to rock tropes and nostalgic sentiments in the music world, including stereotypes of musicians and various trends in music,” says the band.
Allah-Las have confirmed Summer and Fall Tour dates that include headline shows and festival dates across the US, Mexico and Europe. The tour kicks off June 15 in Oslo, NO and concludes November 18 in San Francisco, CA. Along the way they wll play at New York City’s Rockaway Beach on August 4 at the Rockaway Beach Hotel and at The Lodge Room in Los Angeles on November 15 and November 16.
Zuma 85 is being released via the band’s own label, Calico Discos, in partnership with Innovative Leisure, which released earlier defining statements from the band including the eponymously named Allah-Las (2012) and Worship The Sun (2014).
The pandemic induced downtime of 2020-2022 opened up space for the band members to focus on their own lives and interests, and the time to re-envision what creative processes could look like. When it came time to reconvene, a sense of looseness proved pivotal. Instead of bringing finished songs to the studio, they entered the picturesque Panoramic House recording in Stinson Beach with sketches, ideas, and riffs. Working with co-producer Jeremy Harris (White Fence, Devendra Banhart, Ty Segall) they shaped and crafted the new songs in real time over three sessions, which were then mixed in Los Angeles by frequent collaborator Jarvis Taveniere (Woods, Avalanches, Purple Mountains).
It was clear from the get go the bucolic environment—observed through picture windows overlooking Stinson Beach and Bolinas Bay—would be conducive to creating the first statement from Allah-Las 2.0. “We got in real late that first night of the first session,” Michaud says. “It was around midnight. We had a quick intro and Jeremy had a bottle of wine. We had a little and he said, ‘You wanna start recording?’”
They did. And when the group reassembled the following morning to listen back, they found the sparkling and stutter--stepped “Right On Time” mostly done. It was unlike anything the band had ever recorded but felt entirely natural. “Everything just worked,” Michaud says. “That studio just pulls it out of you.”
Zuma 85 finds the Allah-Las departing familiar territory and embracing the influence of late-era Lou Reed and John Cale, the ‘70s mutant pop of Peter Ivers and early Eno and Roxy Music, and textures borrowed from Japanese pop and loner-folk obscurities. There are kosmische zones, like the Popol Vuh-evoking “Hadal Zone,” anthemic and electronic boogies like “The Stuff” and “Sky Club,” and arch prog on tunes like “GB BB” and “Smog Cutter.”
For the last 15 years, Allah-Las have alchemically melded surf rock washes with folk rock jangle and rock, building up their lauded music podcast, Reverberation Radio, and record label, Calico Discos, in the process. A lot has changed since the group first bonded over psych rock vinyl in the back room at Amoeba Records in the late aughts and Zuma 85 finds the quartet facing a new world with a wealth of new sounds.
Allah-Las are Matthew Correia (drums/vocals), Spencer Dunham (bass, guitar, vocals), Miles Michaud (guitar, organ, vocals), and Pedrum Siadatian (guitar, synth, vocals).
Tim Hill releases his new album Giant on Innovative Leisure / Calico Discos, a collection of cowboy tunes and Americana ballads that feel forged out of the embers of a desert campfire and steeped in affection for artists like Randy Newman, Warren Zevon, and Neil Young.
On “Candlestick,” Tim takes his graceful chords and melody and applies them to a poem written by his friend, the artist Ry Welch who also directed the video.
Listening to Tim Hill’s new album, Giant—a rugged, tasteful batch of cowboy tunes and Americana ballads that feel forged out of the embers of a desert campfire—you might assume that he’s been working on a ranch his whole life. You’d be half right: Hill is indeed a rancher, working in the Orange County, California, area of Silverado, but he’s actually a relative novice when it comes to tasks like tending to horses and driving a tractor. He only just got the job since the pandemic started, inspired on something of a whim: “I always kind of thought I could work on a ranch,” Hill says. “So I just looked around for some jobs and they had an opening.”
Hill is based in Whittier, California, where he was born and raised, and music has always been his guiding force. The son of a music teacher, Hill grew up playing various instruments in a formal manner, but eventually carved a niche for himself in local punk bands, before finding himself as an in-demand touring musician for artists like Nick Waterhouse and the Allah-Las. When the Las—one of Los Angeles’s most beloved psych-rock bands—decided to start Calico Discos, their record label, they knew just the guy for its inaugural release: Hill’s solo debut, a 7-inch for the 2018 song “Paris, Texas,” introduced him as an alt-country act to be reckoned with—and his full-length debut, 2019’s Payador, was an underground hit, with copies of the sold-out first run having gone for as much as $100 on Discogs.
Payador was “a simple and honest attempt at a first record,” according to Hill, which was done entirely at home on a four-track. When the project was finished, the fact was made quite cosmically clear: “It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds after the last take, the last overdub, the last cassette, that smoke began to billow from behind the four-track recorder,” Hill explains. So for his sophomore album, he decided that maybe it was time to upgrade the approach a little bit. Taking a drive down the 605 to Long Beach, Hill set up shop at Jonny Bell’s Jazzcats Studio, where he played all of the instruments himself, with the exception of two outside players—one for pedal steel and one for violin.
The result is a record steeped in affection for artists like Randy Newman, Warren Zevon, and Neil Young, but reimagined through the lens of the modern cultural melting pot that Hill lives in. (“I feel like I'm always trying to just rewrite [Young’s] “Out on the Weekend” in some way or another,” says Hill, “just because I like that feel so much.”) The choice of covers on the album speaks multitudes: Giant features a heartbreaking take on Townes Van Zandt’s “No Place to Fall,” a festive, authentic take on José López Alavez’s “Canción Mixteca” (which was notably covered by Ry Cooder and Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas), and two impressive takes on part of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “French Suites,” referred to by Hill as “French Sweet,” naturally. “My dad only listened to classical growing up,” Hill explains, “so it didn’t really mean anything to me then. But now I love it. I can listen to, like, Glenn Gould all day.”
But Hill’s original songs are the sturdy pickup-truck engine of Giant—songs like “Calico,” a dreamy ride into the center of the sun, and the opener, “The Clock’s Never Wrong,” a waltz that would get even the drunkest person at the bar to stand up and start dancing along: “I miss the good ole time when girls used to ask what car you drive,” Hill croons in that latter song, “and leave you with a hole in your heart.” On “Candlestick,” he takes his graceful chords and melody and applies them to a poem written by his friend, the artist Ry Welch. “It was just one of those things where I didn’t have to move any word around,” Hill notes. “I didn’t have to cut anything out. It just fit perfectly in that music.”
Of course, there’s also Giant’s title track, an operatic piano piece that presents a brief, episodic tale of the culture clash that occurs in so many forms in the U.S. these days. The song was inspired by the 1956 George Stevens film of the same name (itself adapted from Edna Ferber’s 1952 novel); Hill was enamored by the movie, and by James Dean’s performance in particular, in which he plays a ranch hand in Texas in the 1920s. “I really identify with that character now,” Hill explains.
Giant was the last movie Dean filmed before he died, and Hill has inherited a fitting ethos for what he’s trying to do with his album named after it—and with his whole career: “Like the string quartet on the deck of the Titanic,” he says, “I’d like to play something beautiful before the ship goes down.”
“This next song’s a special dedication to all of the beach people.” And with that, Mapache — the band led by Los Angeles duo Sam Blasucci and Clay Finch — launch into “They Don’t Know At The Beach,” the latest single from their new album Roscoe’s Dream, out June 10 on Innovative Leisure / Calico Discos. It’s a stoned and conspiratorial love song that unfolds with the sunburnt beauty of a Beach Boys ballad as it weaves a romantic tale of two lovers on the run from the FBI, perfect for soundtracking the most tender moments of a Pynchon novel or a lazy afternoon spent by a pool positing your latest theories on extraterrestrials.
In our latest collaboration with Calico Discos (a label imprint by Allah-Las), we are pleased to announce an album of cover songs by the band Mapache entitled 3. "All About Our Love" - - Sade's timeless classic is the lead single from the forthcoming project and is out now across DSP's.
More info about the covers project:
Shortly after having their North American tour canceled due to Covid in March 2020, Sam, Clay & their close friend and producer Dan Horne decided to hunker down and use the time to work on an album of covers. Ranging from songs by close friends like Allah Las & Little Wings, to classics by Stevie Wonder & the Beach Boys, what resulted is an effortless & touching take on songs you may or may not be familiar with. Other artists include: Sade, Babe Rainbow, Peter Rowan, The Louvin Brothers