Editor's Rating

Allah-Las' man second solo excursion is full of '66 beat and '68 psych-pop goodness

7.8

STEPPING outside his home musical turf, the Allah-Las for the second time, songwriter and guitarist Pedrum Siadatian is poised to exhibit the latest deeply coloured, impressionistic canvas he has produced under his Paint nom-de-plume, 2: Spiritual Vegas.

Paint grew out of the four-track experimentation that any songwriter nurtures: a little side hustle where odder things can grow, a few cassettes for friends. A first self-titled, full-length set was released in 2018 for Brooklyn’s quirky Mexican Summer imprint (also home to the Allah-Las). 

Pedrum recently premiered the video for “Land Man” to trail this album: a cute psych-beat chugger, chelsea boots a-tappin, it’s lyrically concerned with the Los Angelino who is dislocated if he finds himself uncaptivated by the surfin’ life. “I’m no Toucan Sam-man, in some guitar jam band”, he imparts over a Kinksy riff, though you’ll find woozy slide guitar and a certain Eden Ahbez undercoat. 

One of the things that immediately strikes you about Spiritual Vegas is just how Anglophile much of it is, despite LA being a town which gave us so many great psychedelic bands of its own. With Paint, Pedrum is sailing between the two pillars of the Davies brothers on one hand, as much Dave as Ray in the way he handles a riff chop; and the sketched, candid insouciance of Kevin Ayers on the other. 

Songs such as the current taster “Land Man”, “Why Not, Tick Tock?” and “Tongue Tied” have a scented-smoke English wooze. The guitars have the right amount of 60s’ acid bite in their trademark ‘mid-fi’ production. “Ballad of Adelaide”, in which a circling psych guitar shimmer underscores a spoken passage a la Ginsberg, ends in crowd applause, which seems a knowing nod to that 1968 British music hall thing.

But don’t be fooled into thinking this is mere homage; Pedrum is enough of a songwriter of mettle to imprint these influences with his own touch. He sings “Ta Fardah” (translation: Til Tomorrow) in Farsi, a nod to his Iranian heritage.  It’s the kind of rarefied nugget which Andy Votel’s Finders Keepers might dust down to unleash on the kool kids: pre-revolutionary Persian psych-funk. The original on 7”? Why yes, that’ll be $300 to you sir, please.

The dislocation in the lyrics of “Land Man” finds a correspondence in “Meet Me in St Lucia”. No halcyon tropical experience, this; instead, as the opening birdsong yields, we find yearning and ennui, in which we find Pedrum “feeling like King Kong … running out of books to read. I’d like to spend my days with you, I haven’t got much else to do … how I dread the falling sun”, he laments.

“Grape St” is a 1966 beat group pounder filtered by Ultra Vivid Scene’s Kurt Ralske, and hints at a certain boozy pall: “Strolling down Grape St / With a shaking hand.” “Flying Fox” is a luxurious instrumental psych landscape in the tradition of Ed Cobb’s sketches with the Chocolate Watchband.

Pedrum was joined in the studio realisation of Spiritual Vegas by fellow Allah-Las members Spencer Dunham and Matt Correia, as well as Nick Murray, who helps provide the metronomic beats for Oh Sees.

And make no mistake, Spiritual Vegas – whose title was inspired by Pedrum visiting a Bali he found dismayingly Disneyfied, at least in the eyes of the Western tripper – is full, chock full, of guitars. They’re overdriven, they’re chopping out beat rhythm, they’re spilling and riffing and soloing. 

The record closes with the minimalist jazz of “Impressions.” It centres on a moody keyboard figure as lazy guitar, sax, and flute solos weave in and out. You can hear that ’68 psych DNA again.

If you love all things Sundazed, Edsel and Bam Caruso; if you love psych-pop; if you want to hear LA with a few clouds in the sky but plenty of garage verve and vivacity, apply a lick of Paint.

Paint 2: Spiritual Vegas will be released on Mexican Summer worldwide on July 10th. To preorder, visit https://shop.mexicansummer.com/product/paint-spiritual-vegas/