Posts Tagged ‘Light In The Attic’

Jim Sullivan – If The Evening Were Dawn

Light In The Attic has done much to preserve the legacy of Jim Sullivan. The artist has a storied past. He hung with a counterculture crowd – had a bit part in Easy Rider, spent time crawling bars with Harry Dean Stanton and disappeared from mysterious circumstances in New Mexico in 1975. He recorded two albums, though neither did well to carry him forward at the time. His debut was a haunted folk record dotted with extra-terrestrials, lonesome nights, and endless stretches of road. It featured the legendary Wrecking Crew as his backing band. His second, eponymous album was picked up by Playboy’s fledgling record label but their inept promotion mechanisms let it down. That along with the connotations associated with Playboy at the time scared off quite a few listeners who would have sunk deep into its mahogany rich grooves and evening air. It stands as a true shame, because both albums are well worth a listen. LITA is thankfully bringing both of these record back to life, but they’ve included on more bit for good measure.

The collection of songs on If The Evening Were Dawn strips away any backing band that fleshed out Jim’s songs. There’s no embellishment, just the barest of essentials and it casts his songs in a spare, but blissfully austere light. The album is culled from a 1969 session with just Sullivan alone, giving some inklings of his work around L.A. bars at the time. It captures exactly what’s magic about Sullivan. His voice is weathered but hopeful. There’s still that lonesome resolve in his songs, but they’re given an unfussed elegance with this cap on his career. There’s crossover between this and the other two albums, but the collection works well as neither a live trinket or a scratch demo. The songs feel like they take on a new life here and this comes into its own as Sullvan’s final album – part retrospective, part document of a moment in time that may have dispersed like smoke from the end of an unattended cigarette were it not for the forgiving souls at LITA. This is an essential companion piece for any fan of Sullivan’s works, and a damn fine inroads for the uninitiated.



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Anna St. Louis on Gimmer Nicholson – Christopher Idylls

One of the great breakout records of 2018 has been the Mare/Woodsist debut proper from Anna St. Louis (she issued a tape last year but this marks the first LP). The record stradles the line between fingerpicked folk and the sunset strains of bittersweet ’70s country. Her songs have a gravity that’s hard to shake, so it stands to reason that looking behind the curtain on her sound would yield a proper gem. St. Louis sheds a little light on a folk obscurity given new life a little while back by the proper diggers over at Light in the Attic. Check out her pick, Gimmer Nicholson, below.

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VA – Even A Tree Can Shed Tears

Light in the Attic, like Numero, has never gone in for half measures. When a release is compiled, they’re throrough, swaddling it in impeccable design and restoring lost music to its rightful place on your speakers. So, with this in mind it was an exciting announcement that the label would be starting a new Japanese archival series looking at different scenes and subgenres throughout the region. Their first take puts the focus on the ’60s and the folk movement that grew out of student protests, “authentic folk” leanings and the beginnings of psychedelic folk. Much of this came under the banner of “New Music” which tied together the Eastern and Western regional strains.

The collection is stitched with a wonderful slide in and out of the more authentic, stripped-down artists, many of whom find a plaintive beauty in their compositions. The songs are clearly leaning away from what would have been traditional Japanese folk, but also working in the same way that their British and American counterparts had contrasted the more pop sounding beat groups. While there’s certainly an argument to be made for more Japanese traditional influence to rear its head, this collection stands as an interesting argument for the West’s pervasiveness on young people at the time.

Light in the Attic has shone a light over many voices that seem left out of the current conversation in Japanese music. It’s easy to connect the dots between Takashi Nishioka’s subtle boil of fuzz and later works by Masaki Batoh. For me, personally, so much of my contact with Japanese music is rooted in the noisier ends of psych, the discordant ends of rock and, when scrubbed up, the more beat-leaning ’60s groups like Jacks or Apryl Fool. It’s great to have a collection that brings the underground beauty of these artists to the foreground. Can’t wait to see what LIA digs into in this series next, but for now, this one’s a keeper.

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Light In The Attic: Japan Archival Series

Light In The Attic are absolute masters at digging up the past and their latest series fills an essential hole in the cataloging of Japanese music. They’re beginning the series with three compilations – Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973; Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1975-1985; and Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990. Presumably they’ll spread to some singular artist focused releases from there as they tease a release from “one of the most respected and influential artists in Japan.”

The first release on the docket is Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973 and it catalogs the post-war folk wellspring that became known as angura among students and fans at the time. The folk movement prized an authenticity over recreating Western sounds and as a result this lays the groundwork for many of the modern folk and psych-folk artists from the country we’ve come to love. The first installment is out in October and available on limited “Weeping Sakura” colored wax. Check out a cut from Kazuhiko Kato below.

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