2. New Hymn (The Residents)
3. Church of Anthrax (Terry Riley & John Cale)
4. Smog (Los Dug Dugs)
5. It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl (Faust)
6. Love Lockdown (Kanye West)

Dig: \dig\ n. - An archaeological excavation v. (i) To learn or discover by careful research or investigation (ii) To like, enjoy, or appreciate

The opening track of ‘Digs’, this brave, uncompromising and downright rocking new mini-album by Mexican-American sound voyagers Allá, is a short, sharp mainline surge of Kraut-pop called ‘Si Se Puede’ - Spanish for ‘Yes we can’. It’s a phrase you might recognise from the news lately... but it also works here as a righteous call-to-arms for what follows: five audacious cover versions, recorded mostly live and with minimal post-production, through which the Chicago-based band pay respect to a diverse list of artists and songs that have helped bring their unique musical vision into focus. But that’s not all: if the debut Allá album ‘Es Tiempo’ saw shades of Tropicalia, Motown, jazz, lounge and more mixed up to form a lush, dreamy pop palette, this new (old) material showcases what Allá become in the live setting, as will soon be evidenced throughout the US and Europe: a loud, proud, free-range rock band, sweetly insistent melodies set ablaze by raw psychedelia, thundering rhythms and ecstatic frenzies of guitar-led improvisation recalling early, droney Stereolab and peaktime Can (founding members Jorge & Angel Ledezma toured with Damo Suzuki, you may recall). On stage, and here on the thrilling blast of sonic archaeology that is ‘Digs’, Allá come alive. Do you dig?

Allá songwriter/guitarist/producer Jorge Ledezma describes the covers found on ‘Digs’:

The Residents - New Hymn (1982)

The Residents, for me, are completely underrated - The Beatles from an alternate universe. They absolutely changed and shaped my musical outlook at the impressionable age of 12. Their ability to shape a world using the same technology as everyone else... I mean, they are human, right? This song is one of their most dramatic, beautfiul, cinematic and emotional, and has become a blueprint for Allá.

Terry Riley & John Cale - Church of Anthrax (1971)

Allá sets always veer into free improvisation, which can mean chaotic sheets of feedback and drone, but always with an insistent rhythm track to keep things from falling apart. So, when I discovered this track from this collaborative record between composer Terry Riley and John Cale (known for his work with The Velvet Underground but a great solo artist too), I immediately associated it with what we do in our concerts. We tracked this song live free of overdubs: at one point Angel even drops his sticks, but keeps the rhythm going with his persistent kick drum. Chance operation... didn't John Cage say that?

Los Dug Dugs - Smog (1972)

This is our salute to one of Mexico’s finest psych/pop bands from the 60s-70s. Taken from their second album, which, unlike their first, is all sung in Spanish. Modern Latin rock starts with Los Dug Dugs and it's only appropriate that Allá looks back into our history before we can take a step forward into the future.

Faust - It's A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl (1972)

The purest and most powerful expression of rock music ever. One chord, one beat, a song that can be played forever...pure punk rock. It takes an obsessive amount of discipline to perform music like this. We have been ending our live sets with this song. We let it all out.

Kanye West - Love Lockdown (2008)

We have always admired Kanye's amibition, style and creativity – plus he's from Chicago like us! This song is so powerful and minimal that our mind was filled with so many interpetations... Kanye is not writing hip hop anymore: it's pop, it's universal. He has changed the perception of what a producer and artist can do within their genre, and we like to think that Allá is following his inspiration. 

Early press reactions on the Digs mini-album:

 Local Chicano combo Allá tips its cap to an eclectic array of influences. A blazing krautrock-inspired homage to Obama—“Si Se Puede” (“Yes We Can” for all you gringos)—kicks off the EP before the band, er, digs into oddities by Faust and the Residents. It’s an enormous departure from the band’s impressive debut—the layered glossy mélange of Es Tiempo. Compared to that elaborate studio creation, Digs is proudly raw and unpolished. This collection of covers more accurately reflects Allá’s stage lineup—drums, guitar, bass and organ—and could practically pass for a live album. With Allá sourcing brilliant unsung Mexican psych-rock combo Los Dug Dug’s as well as John Cale and Terry Riley’s mesmerizing “Church of Anthrax,” it’s clear the band is doing its darndest not to be pigeonholed. (Time Out Chicago)

 Rock trio Allá plays a record-release party at Schubas for the new "mini-album" (Digs): You can preview it at their MySpace page, along with last year's Es Tiempo, one of my favorite local albums in a long, long time. Miles Raymer wrote about the album's arduous creation, and how much it rules: "The songs’ ratio of hooky pop to artsy experimentation hits the sweet spot where you can almost hear that an indie record’s gonna blow up." (Chicago Reader)


ALLá - Digs
ALLá - Es Tiempo
Es Tiempo