After funding, producing, and releasing their own albums for the better part of two decades, moe. went corporate (by jam band standards, at least) by signing with Sugar Hill Records. What Happened to the La Las kicks off the new partnership with a mix of heady Southern rock and rootsy, festival-friendly funk. Longtime fans may be worried about the loss of moe.'s cottage industry, and some of the band’s defining characteristics -- the improvised sprawl of their jams, the multi-minute length of their guitar solos -- do get tempered this time around, thanks in large part to John Travis, the band’s first outside producer since 1998’s Tin Cans and Car Tires. Travis polishes up the band’s sound and smooths down their rough edges, but moe. still sound like moe., particularly on guitar-heavy songs like “Downward Facing Dog” and “Paper Dragon.” Several of the remaining eight songs have been kicking around moe.'s set lists for years, meaning even the most conservative-minded moe.-rons -- i.e. the ones who don’t want to share their band with a label, even one as sympathetic as Sugar Hill -- will have something familiar to cling to. But What Happened to the La Las doesn’t want to throw its listeners for a loop. It wants to evolve, to amplify the band’s eclectic noise, to bring another musical mind into the creation process and see what happens.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey