Personal Soundtrack

20 Sep

 

 

The Song

Busman’s Holiday by The Allah-Las

The Allah-Las wrap their surf-rock twang in a such a haze of lo-fi vintage effects that if a listener were to stumble across “Busman’s Holiday” on the radio dial, they’d most likely think it was some long-lost transmission from a beachside garage in 1963 California.  There has been a slight retro trend with new music lately – the raw bluesy sound of The Black Keys, the retro-soul of someone like Mayer Hawthorne – but The Allah-Las stand out a bit in that they seem to go all-in for the vintage sound, without worrying about keeping some contemporary touches or sounding like any kind of popular music from the last 30 years.

Their self-titled debut album also stands out in that the vintage sound is not just some hollow gimmick – on tracks like “Busman’s” the band lays down a rollicking groove while a lead guitar jumps and twangs over the top in tight little runs.  The ‘Lhs are playing this music like they own it.  The group plays most of their debut album with a locked-in rhythm, and each sonic element seems to find its own place in the beat without losing any of the ragged, rocking edge that lends everything a free-wheeling, garage-band mentality and momentum.  The end result is like the soundtrack to a lost Tarantino movie – smoky, twangy, weird, catchy, mysterious, belonging to a time that no longer exists.

The Activity

The fog is starting to roll in off the water, appearing on the night’s edge like some portentous spirit.  You don’t mind it, at least as long as it stays on the outskirts.  It signifies some clear air for once, and you take a deep breath of the night sky as you cruise down Ocean Ave.  On a night like this, you don’t mind that the drop-top on your Malibu has just gone on the fritz again.

The clear night sky is not enough to keep your mind off the task at hand for too long, however.  It’s impossible to forget why you’re here right now, and where you’re headed.  Why you’re so nervous that you’re currently halfway through your second joint of the too-short car ride.  Impossible to forget the woman waiting at the end of said car ride.

She’s your boss’ current girlfriend and your former girlfriend, although the aforementioned boss does not know about the aforementioned ‘former’ status.  All he knows is that he has some business to attend to, and he wants his trusty employee (you) to keep his lady happy by taking her out for a night out on the town.  He (the boss) is the kind of guy who has several current girlfriends at one time, in addition to a few future ones, so he doesn’t think too much about letting one of his (seemingly) random employees take out one of his flames for a casual night out.  He (the boss) figures that it’s the best way to keep these aforementioned flames happy and occupied so that they remain available when he needs them to be.

You haven’t seen this former girlfriend for awhile, but it’s not that part of the whole situation that’s got you nervous.  No, it’s the fact that anything can happen when you run into an old romantic interest of yours, and in this instance, if anything happens tonight, your boss is not someone you want to make angry.  He (the boss) is someone who makes his living in the world of crime, and someone who employs people like you to carry out his dirty work.  You’ve seen first-hand what the boss will do if someone gets on his bad side.  And if anything not 100% on the up-and-up goes down tonight between you and the current/former girlfriend (which it very well might, she’s unpredictable) then you will be in some hot water.

As you take the turn on Ocean and start the last leg of the trip, you can see the moon sparkling off the ocean to your left.  You’re headed to the ritzy, waterfront part of town.  With two joints in your head, your automatic weapon in the glove box, and a veritable femme fatale about fifteen minutes away from hopping in the passenger seat.  Oh, well.  This is the life you lead.  You turn the dial to K-BILLY, crank the volume, and wonder if Jack Rabbit Slim’s is still open.

 

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