Track of the day: Ellery James Roberts : Kerou’s Lament


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Who? Ellery James Roberts, ex-frontman of hotly-tipped but short-lived post-everything collective WU LYF
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Where? Manchester, England
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What? Roberts’ first foray into solo territory, the self-released “Kerou’s Lament”
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Why? Because it takes a personal message (“To the powers of old, to the powers that be/ You fucked up this world, but you won’t fuck with me”) and turns it into a triumphant terrace-style anthem that combines the sass of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” with the grizzled bluster of Springsteen’s “Born To Run”. Also, even though Roberts effectively killed WU LYF, this song suggests that the same confrontational fire still burns deep down in his soul. Also, it has a pretty cool video.
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Kirin J. Callinan : Embracism

Kirin J Callinan - Embracism

Despite being one of the biggest countries on Earth, Australia has never been the planet’s most happening musical hotspot; ten years ago I could probably have counted the number of Aussie artists I was familiar with on the fingers of one hand, and two of those would have been Minogues. Now, however, things are heating up down under. As well as hipster faves such as Tame Impala and new pop sensations Jagwar Ma, there are countless great acts – My Disco, Eddy Current Supression Ring, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Lost Animal and Blank Realm to name but a handful – flourishing in the shade of the country’s underground scene. Set to blossom next is Kirin J. Callinan, whose debut album Embracism presents the former Mercy Arms guitarist as the fourth face on the yet-to-be-built Mount Rushmore of Australian outlaw rock alongside Bon Scott, Nick Cave and INXS’ Michael Hutchence. Combining the latter’s sleazy confidence trickster charm offensive, Cave’s poet/ pervert duality and AC/DC’s testosterone-fuelled brute force with his own punk-inspired twist on Bowie’s androgynous alien model and a knack for controversy-courting performance art stunts, Callinan is a phenomenon waiting to happen: The Man About To Fall To Earth. Shifting from salty growl to queasy-listening croon like the test tube-grown offspring of Tom Waits, Scott Walker and Captain Beefheart, the singer – assisted in the studio by the Presets’ Kim Moyes and Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor – reels off schizoid tales of love and violence like a silver-tongued snake-oil salesman with a criminal record and a sideline in confrontational, avant-garde industrial rockabilly-noir, or a self-tattooed rock ‘n’ roll rebel with a barely concealed romantic streak and a pocket full of overblown, theatrical pop gems, albeit one whose true intentions are never quite clear. On the title track, over a menacing, Suicide-esque bass pulse Callinan vividly describes two lads scrapping in the school playground (“Rolling around in the dust… Sleeves rolled up, socks pulled down… Blood  flows from one kid’s nose but the older boys want more”) before hinting at the possible homoerotic subtext behind such chest-puffing behaviour (“A man can meet another man in a bar, on the sports field, at his place of work… or in his own apartment, or on the internet right now“) as a storm of jackhammer electronic beats and guitar and synth skree gathers around him; likewise, on the bombastic, “Eye Of The Tiger”-gone-dub-techno “Come On USA”, he decries America’s influence on global pop culture (“Taken right up the backside/ By blue-bloods, by suits, by dollar signs… The land of the free is not what it claims to be“), but when he later claims to “cry every time I listen to Springsteen” one can’t help but believe it’s for more positive reasons than guilt and self-loathing. He’s certainly not averse to channeling The Boss’ fist-pumping rock vibes; whilst Callinan proves perfectly adept at any number of styles – Depeche Mode-style gothic synth-pop on “Halo”, sweeping orchestral rock (“Victoria M”), waltz-time balladry (“Landslide”), mutant post-punk on “Way II War” and the kind of kitchen sink melodrama Brett Anderson or Morrissey used to excel at (“When we crashed your father’s car/ I came back looking for all the tiny shards of glass… I don’t see your mum anymore… but I’ll visit your grave” – “Chardonnay Sean”) – Embracism‘s brightest highlight comes with its big finale, “Love Delay” (below), which explodes from scratchy avant-rock beginnings into a roaring, big-hearted everyman anthem that Broooce himself would no doubt be proud to have written. Of course, by closing time we’re none the wiser as to which of the characters we’ve just met, if any, is the real Kirin J. Callinan but, as with Bowie or Waits or Cave, the air of mystique only adds to the allure; perhaps we should just assume that all of them – the bully boy, the sensitive soul, the smart-mouthed satirist, the techno-tinkering art terrorist, the strutting “Ziggy Pop” spaceman superstar – are in there somewhere. Besides, despite what our instincts tell us, nobody really wants to know a magician’s secrets and, on Embracism, Callinan pulls off some pretty spectacular tricks. Prepare to be amazed.

Embracism is out July 2 via Terrible Records / Siberia Records/ XL Recordings  and is streaming now at Pitchfork Advance

2013: Halftime report

Greetings Foam Friends! In case you haven’t seen my Twitter feed over the last few weeks, we have a new addition to the Foam Hands family: my beautiful baby daughter Poppy, who has been taking up pretty much every second of my time since she arrived at the start of the month. But I did promise that I’d be back, and since the little bundle of joy has now discovered – contrary to what must be natural baby instinct – that nothing bad will happen if she actually goes to sleep now and then, I thought I’d take the opportunity to post my mid-year Albums Of 2013 (So Far) list. Out of fairness/ respect/ whatever, I haven’t included anything that won’t have been officially released by the end of June, or anything that I haven’t actually heard yet (i.e. the Run The Jewels album, which drops for free online in a few days and, I expect, will land somewhere pretty high up the list); nor have I included unsanctioned releases like the Jai Paul “album”, which is excellent but essentially a bootleg of demos never intended for public consumption. Positions are not set in stone; my opinions change on a daily basis depending on what I’ve listened to, for example whilst Daft Punk hold the top spot at the moment, Yeezus hasn’t had nearly as much chance to sink in and could quite feasibly overtake it in time. Entries with *asterisks* after them have been reviewed on this site previously (Google “Artist” + “Title” + “Foam Hands”), and after the top 50 are another 100 or so “honourable mentions” which I would also recommend checking out, many of which have also been covered on Foam Hands.
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1. Daft Punk Random Access Memories

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2. Kanye West Yeezus

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3. Deafheaven Sunbather

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4. Majical Cloudz Impersonator*

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5. Autre Ne Veut Anxiety*

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6. Phoenix Bankrupt!

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7. DJ Koze Amygdala*

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8. Chance The Rapper Acid Rap*

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9. The Knife Shaking The Habitual*

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10. Pissed Jeans Honeys*

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11. Baptist Generals Jackleg Devotional To The Heart*
12. Purling Hiss Water On Mars*
13. Disclosure Settle
14. Italians Do It Better After Dark 2
15. Melt Yourself Down Melt Yourself Down*
16. Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires Of The City
17. The National Trouble Will Find Me
18. Savages Silence Yourself*
19. Queens Of The Stone AgeLike Clockwork
20. A$AP Rocky Long Live A$AP*
21. Iceage You’re Nothing*
22. Kvelertak Meir*
23. Harry Fraud Adrift
24. Toro y Moi Anything In Return*
25. James Holden The Inheritors
26. Doldrums Lesser Evil*
27. Classixx Hanging Gardens
28. The-Dream IV Play
29. Marnie Stern Chronicles Of Marnia*
30. Kurt Vile Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze
31. Deerhunter Monomania*
32. Hey Colossus Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo*
33. Colin Stetson New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light*
34. Jenny Hval Innocence Is Kinky
35. Eleanor Friedberger Personal Record
36. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire Kismet
37. Western Tink & Beautiful Lou Mobbin’ No Sobbin’*
38. Poisonous Relationship Garden Of Problems*
39. Sun Kil Moon & The Album Leaf Perils From The Sea
40. Black Pus All My Relations*
41. Milk Music Cruise Your Illusion
42. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys Ready For Boredom
43. The Thermals Desperate Ground*
44. Waxahatchee Cerulean Salt
45. Matmos The Marriage Of True Minds
46. Miles Faint Hearted*
47. Diamond Terrifier The Subtle Body Wears A Shadow*
48. Darkthrone The Underground Resistance
49. Young Galaxy Ultramarine
50. Unknown Mortal Orchestra II*
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Honourable mentions: Foxygen, Thee Oh Sees, Banque Allemande, Bill Orcutt & Chris Corsano, Dirty Beaches, VHOL, KEN Mode, Locrian, John Hopkins, John Roberts, Charli XCX, Austra, Pure X, Koreless, Youth Lagoon, Boards Of Canada, The Haxan Cloak, Slava, RP Boo, Thundercat, Rhye, Justin Timberlake, Ghostface Killah, The Men, Phosphorescent, Var, Merchandise, Autechre, Maxmillion Dunbar, Stellar Om Source, Atoms For Peace, Clipping, Jan St.Werner, These New Puritans, Pharmakon, Zs, Black Host, Lost Animal, David Bowie, Mikal Cronin, Beach Fossils, Charlie Boyer & the Voyeurs, Sonny & The Sunsets, Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, Jagwar Ma, Wise Blood, Airhead, Owiny Sigoma Band, AraabMuzik, Major Lazer, Small Black, Dungeonesse, Lightning Dust, Ensemble Pearl, Melvins, Gobby, The Cyclist, Zomby, Sean Nicholas Savage, Wolf People, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, John Grant, Dean Blunt, Inter Arma, Power Trip, Wolf Eyes, Man’s Gin, Antwon, Generationals, Blue Hawaii, Yo La Tengo, My Bloody Valentine, Justin Walter, William Tyler, Julian Lynch, The Flaming Lips, Cayucas, Lescop, FIDLAR, Nails, Baptists, Hookworms, Trus’me, Function, Grouper, Low, Widowspeak, Oblivians, Caitlin Rose, Kevin Gates, Pearl Necklace, Night Marchers, White Fence, Alasdair Roberts.
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What a great year for music, and we’re only half-way through!

Another 20 recommendations

Cassette_Desktop_by_revoltvideo

As long-time readers (or followers of Foam Hands on Twitter) might know, there is soon to be a new member of the FH family; very soon, in fact, as Mrs. Foam Hands’ due date is… today! As a result, I’m going to be taking a few weeks off from blogging about music in order to dedicate my time to looking after mother and baby, so to sign off with here’s another installment in an occasional series of stripped-down, no-hyperbole album recommendations. All of the below are either out now or set to be released over the forthcoming weeks, and remember: if you like what you hear please take the time to do some digging. Hopefully I’ll be back soon, and for those who want to know what music makes the baby dance/ sleep/ soil itself, keep an eye on my Twitter feed. Now, what’ll make for better birthing music: Julianna Barwick or Deafheaven….?

RP Boo Legacy (Planet Mu)

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Pure Bathing Culture Moon Tide (Memphis Industries/ Partisan)

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Lemuria The Distance Is So Big (Bridge Nine)

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Sonny & The Sunsets Antenna To The Afterworld (Polyvinyl)

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Stellar Om Source Joy One Mile (RVNG Intl.)

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The Mantles Love Enough To Leave (Slumberland)

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White Mandingos The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me (Fat Beats)

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Case Studies This Is Another Life (Sacred Bones)

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Julianna Barwick Nepenthe (Dead Oceans)

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Koreless Yugen (Young Turks)

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Rose Windows The Sun Dogs (Sub Pop)

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Deafheaven Sunbather (Deathwish Inc.)

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Matias Aguayo The Visitor (Comeme)

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Anna Von Hausswolff Ceremony (City Slang/ Other Music)

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Jan St. Werner Blaze Colour Burn (Thrill Jockey)

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Baths Obsidian (Anticon)

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Kiran Leonard Bowler Hat Soup (Hand Of Glory)

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Disclosure Settle (PMR)

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These New Puritans Field Of Reeds (Infectious)

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Grumbling Fur Glynnaestra (Thrill Jockey)

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