Leland Sundries – The Apothecary EP

January 01, 1970

 

 

(L’echiquier)

 

www.lelandsundries.com

 

Everything about Brooklyn-based combo Leland Sundries’ debut
– from the band name and EP title, each bearing a tantalizing whiff of the
quaint and the exotic; to the rustic-looking disc packaging, displaying crude
line drawings of a vintage biplane and assorted farmer’s hand tools, along with
an imagined rendering of what could have been an actual sign adorning the side
of a small-town “Leland Sundries” building; to the dusty, Americana noir vibe
of the music itself, primarily wrought by resonator guitar, banjo, harmonica
and spare rhythm section, plus vocalist/songwriter Nick Loss-Eaton’s dry, Lou
Reed-meets-James-McMurtry warble – conjures images of hazy, humid summer
afternoons in the South of the almost-vanished past. It’s not surprising to
learn, then, that Loss-Eaton (a music industry publicist by day), drew direct
inspiration from a stint working at Smithsonian Folkways, soaking in the rural
magic of Harry Smith’s Anthology of
American Folk Music
and even making a Mississippi pilgrimage to see with
his own eyes some of the key points on the curve of the American cradle of musical
civilization.

 

The Apothecary EP,
though, is no carpetbagger’s ball. Multiinstrumentalist Loss-Eaton and his
accompanists clearly feel their
material, proving once again that you don’t necessarily have to be raised in a ‘sippi
shack as a poor sharecropper’s seventh child to tap into the same, primal,
nurturing source. Each of these songs has its own distinct charm. “Elegy,” for
example, with the aforementioned rez guitar and banjo, plus accordion,
prominent, brings to mind the late, great 16 Horsepower, Loss-Eaton’s lyrical
snapshots (paint-chipped walls in a decaying old house, drunks hanging out next
to the old latrines, an old man dancing in drag at an arcade) providing a
vivid, almost carnivalesque narrative to go with the antiqued musical vibe. The
delightfully titled, subtly Dylanesque “Oh My Sweet Cantankerous Baby” (hear
it, below) is at once earthy and airy, twangy, harmonica-flecked country-folk
featuring counterpoint harmony backing vocals from “country shoegaze” chanteuse
Laura Minor. And “High On The Plains” serves up a sonic twist, marrying Exile-era Stonesy riffs to a deadpan,
Lou Reed-style vocal.

 

All in all, one of the more striking debuts this annum, and
a hearty, heartfelt addition to the contemporary Americana catalog, Let’s hear a full-length,
soon.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Elegy,” “Oh My Sweet Cantankerous Baby” FRED MILLS

 

 

Listen to an MP3 of “Oh My Sweet Cantankerous Baby”

 

Leland Sundries kick
off a Northeast tour starting Oct. 9. Details at the official website.

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