LITA Staff Selections: May 2024

LITA Staff Selections: May 2024

Welcome to our first ever monthly staff selections, where we share some of our favorite albums available at LITA this month! Get ready to groove, reflect, and maybe even discover your new favorite tunes as our team shares their top picks, straight from the heart.

On the surface, these seven songs are of the Christian persuasion, but you don't have to be a Bible-thumper to catch their drift. Johnnie Frierson was working through some real sh*t when he home-recorded this cassette, and that's something we can all relate to! His talent is raw and his wisdom pure and true. "Have you been sleeping at least 8 hours? Have you been eating the right kind of food? Have you been getting enough exercise? Have you been living a righteous life?" If you answered "no" to any of these, then you have not, in fact, been good to yourself, and it's time you start acting right! So do like Johnnie said because, "If you're not gonna be good to yourself / Then you're not gonna be good to others." Amen.

My first foray into the LITA-verse was via The Black Angels. This Austin-based band still ticks all the boxes for me -- droned-out, psychedelic fuzzy guitars, thumpity-thump, and dark, moody lyrics. Escaping through the desert at midnight vibes. I was lucky to catch them at the Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NC supporting Directions to See A Ghost (2008 or 2009?), and I have the well-loved t-shirt to remind me of a time when seeing live music didn't give me a panic attack. Both Passover and Directions to See a Ghost are currently available in neat colors, but if you don't own either you should spring for the bundle!

Mina Douglas: Piper - Gentle Breeze

Piper's Gentle Breeze may have snow on its cover, but it's the perfect album to listen to during spring days as warm breezes usher in summer. It will make you want to quit your job, buy a boat, and spend the rest of your days traveling the world in search of the perfect beach.

As a legendary figure in Korean music, it’s worth reading about Shin Joong Hyun’s story, which is fascinating and at times heartbreaking. This compilation, along with its companion release, From Where to Where: 1970-79, is a treasure trove of gems ranging from early Korean rock, psych, pop to acid-folk. Aside from Kim Jung Mi’s performance of “The Sun” being one of the most beautiful and striking ballads I’ve ever heard, the songs are an emotionally vast glimpse into Shin Joong Hyun’s prolific, genre-bending and boundary-pushing career.

Listening to Melting Moment by POISON GIRL FRIEND is a melancholic and dreamy passage into the 90s cyber-world. Noriko Sekiguchi's quaint and washed-out vocals trace a unique texture alongside empowering lyrics that leave a distinct residue of both familiarity and timelessness.

Jocelyn Romo: Jim Kirkwood - Uruk-HaiKing of the Golden HallWhere Shadows Lie

Are you interested in synthesizers? What about knights and dragons, or trolls and elves? A trilogy of recent vinyl reissues by Maine-based label Out of Season and Brooklyn’s Hosianna Mantra Records by the mysterious patron saint of dungeon synth, Jim Kirkwood, offers a look into his fantastical (and prolific) body of work. You might think these influences would amount to something out of a Jethro Tull universe, but Jim Kirkwood’s Lord of the Rings-inspired trilogy feels like a world of its own, taking the melodic ambiance of a Tangerine Dream score and crossing it with the drama of a symphonic prog saga by Yes.

Daniel Cohn: Jim Sullivan - UFO

Every song on this album is completely perfect. When I first got the LP many years ago, I didn't flip it over to the B Side for months because I just couldn't get over how good the A Side was. When I eventually did flip it over, oh baby, it felt like a whole other Jim Sullivan album was made available to me and it was just as good!

1993 was a stellar year in hip-hop — including the vibey debut of Digable Planets with Blowout Comb. This quintessential “real head” album is one you can put on from start to finish and enjoy every track. Smooth bass lines, slick group vocals and nostalgic guest spots by beloved MCs, Guru and Jeru the Damaja, puts this album at the top of my list for May!

Madeleine Sturma: Ned Doheny - Hard Candy

This album is perfect for driving down PCH or sipping a cocktail – but not at the same time!

Victoria Holt: Various Artists - Down To The Sea & Back: Volume Tres. The Continuing Journey of the Balearic Beat

I've been really curious about balearic music as of late, after attending my first Despacio in Ghent, Belgium. The event is run by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and the Dewaele Brothers of 2manyDJs/Soulwax fame, and was heavily inspired by balearic sets in Ibiza, which traditionally focused on slower, meditative beats and vast soundscapes. The first edition of Despacio in 2013 almost took place at an Ibiza venue, before the ambitious nature of the soundsystem involved made it impossible. The event has hosted almost 20 events since, with an ever-growing fanbase around the world.

According to MasterClass, Balearic music can be defined as focusing "less on any particular style of music and more on the song choices made by a small group of individuals to keep partygoers on dance floors at clubs like Amnesia [in Ibiza]. DJ sets by pioneering figures, like Alfredo Florito and Danny Rampling, were anchored around relaxed, upbeat songs with a slow but solid beat from all genres, from pop and rock to soul, American and European disco, and electronic music." The hallmark of any Despacio night (and much music which identifies as Balearic) is its departure from strict genre boundaries, allowing for a truly expansive listening experience. The DJ, and indeed, any compilation, can explore a wider variety of sounds in one collection.

A highlight of this release is track "Steal My Sunshine (Version Idjut)" by Len. This is a version by London's Idjut Boys, known for their incredible dub disco remixes. This track has a very fun swinging beat and dubbed out shuffle to it. "Malamore - 3S Take1" by Enzo Carella and "Underage" by Le Couleur are also certified groovers. Don't expect any sudden spikes in heart rate to these jams, but you'll be smiling all the same. You may experience the sudden urge to shimmy around your room with your eyes closed, swaying back and forth as though under a sunset in the sand. Sunscreen not included.
LITA Staff Selections: May 2024