Light in the Attic's 'Pacific Breeze Volume 3' City Pop Collection Is the Best Way to Welcome Spring
Another collection of 70's and 80's Japanese gems from the expert re-issue label.
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Anyone in the mountain states knows that the first day of spring often means we’re forgoing new blossoms for a wet wintry mix. Like clockwork, I’m staring out my office window in Santa Fe, looking at, you guessed it, the greyest sleet of the season.
Yes, I know I'll miss the moist moments when the dry, early summer arrives. But combined with anticipation for the return of baseball after watching a World Baseball Classic to remember (if you were watching The Bachelor instead of Japan vs. Mexico in the semi-final last night…ya missed out), I’m ready for the sunshine that is usually in abundance around here.
I’ve noted before that my music cravings usually work in seasons, and I’m eager to break out of the gentler winter stuff in favor of some solar-infused jams. Luckily for me, Light in the Attic, the phenomenal re-issue label and curators up in Seattle, have just what I need: Pacific Breeze Volume 3, the latest release in their can’t-miss series that covers city pop’s origins in the seventies and eighties.
City pop is one of those genres that isn’t easy to define, but once you start listening, you’ll get the gist. Beginning in Japan in the mid to late seventies, city pop demonstrated a change in the country’s music culture as American and western influences crept into popular music. City pop infuses elements of funk, Latin and Caribbean music, soft rock, jazz, disco… you get the picture. It’s also where vaporwave started, as the city pop influence through samples and aesthetics is undeniable.
For the past six years, Light in the Attic has expertly curated collections of Japanese music for western audiences,and the Pacific Breeze series is easily the most accessible and downright fun of the bunch. Combining retro megahits and unearthed gems, Pacific Breeze is the ultimate starting point for those new to the genre, but also full of surprises for those familiar. As a fan of the series, I must say that Volume 3 is probably the best collection yet. All installations of Pacific Breeze celebrate that women have been so influential in city pop’s success. Still, the latest is primarily female artists, and the payoff is enormous with a fluid playlist.
Most of these songs are on Youtube, usually in poor audio quality, and most are unavailable on western streaming services. Light in the Attic’s care and reverence is apparent throughout Pacific Breeze and is an excellent example of why physical media is still the best way to experience music.
So forget the cold rain and snow, and ride the wave from Hiroshi Nagai’s far-out rip-curl cover art while I run through some of my favorites from Pacific Breeze Volume 3.
Order Pacific Breeze Volume 3 here.
Youtube playlist of the complete Pacific Breeze Volume 3 collection.
Light in the Attic’s Pacific Breeze playlist on Spotify.
Programming note: I am out of town this weekend, so a newsletter will not be on Friday. See you in a week.
Naomi Akimoto - “Bewitched (Are You Leaving Soon)”
The phattest bassline you’ll hear today, guaranteed.
Miharu Koshi - “Scandal Night”
Produced by the legendary Haruomi Hosono, I don’t think there’s any better way to describe this one than its top comment on Youtube:
Chu Kosaka - “Shirakechimauze”
Chu Kosaka played in the sixties psych band Apryl Fool with Hosono, but the Philadelphia Soul sound cooly inspires “Shirakechimauze.” Full of breezy strings and a killer drum groove, “Shirakechimauze” is like a Mai Tai sipped through your ears.
Makoto Matsushita - “Business Man Pt. 1”
Easily my favorite on Pacific Breeze Volume 3 - we’d call it yacht rock if Michael McDonald sang this soaring chorus.
Susan - “Ah! Soka”
Having a rough day? Watch Japanese wrestling legends Bull Nakano and Dump Matsumoto walk around Ed Koch’s New York City.
Parachute - “Kowloon Daily”
One of the more obscure songs on the collection, “Kowloon Daily,” throws traditional Japanese influences into a blender with a heavy dose of reggae. If you know more about Parachute, let me know in the comments.
Pizzicato Five - “Boy Meets Girl”
A Simon and Garfunkel cover by a Japanese group heavily influenced by the early beats of Afrika Bambaataa is the last thing I’d expect, but here’s a wild cover of “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).”
If this is your kinda thing, definitely check out 2019’s Kankyō Ongaku, which collects Japanese ambient, environmental, and New Wave from the eighties.
I’ll take all of this ya got! Pizzicato Five rule-- and it’s really hard to find their stuff anymore. Really bummed that I got rid of most of my CDs by them. I name drop them as a “RIYL” on a record review coming Thursday.