Sacred Bones Triple : Pop. 1280, Zola Jesus, Destruction Unit

Pop. 1280: Imps of Perversion Zola Jesus: Versions Destruction Unit: Deep Trip

Regular readers will know that Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones imprint is one of our favourite labels, so every time one of their lovingly curated new releases arrives in the Foam Hands inbox is cause for celebration; break out the party poppers, then, as August is set to be their busiest month for a while now, with three brand new artist albums including the label debut from the latest addition to the roster.

First up, everyone’s favourite scuzz-punk curmudgeons Pop. 1280 are back, trawling the sewer systems of some near-future urban dystopia again on their second long-player Imps Of Perversion, out August 6 and available to stream now via Pitchfork Advance. Recorded with Sonic Youth/ Swans producer Martin Bisi, the follow-up to 201?’s The Horror is more of a straightforward avant-rock record – by which we mean it sounds more like Sonic Youth and Swans (and the Birthday Party and the Jesus Lizard…), so not really straightforward at all – but there are still traces of the cheap Suicide synths that propelled that album and its preceding EP The Grid, droning away behind squalling guitars and low-end grind, bludgeoning industrial rhythms and Chris Bug’s bellowed tales of lust and debauchery. Uglier than ever and better for it, this is a band as tight and as muscular as a well-trained sphincter; listen to “Human Probe” below.

The new Zola Jesus album, Versions (out August 20), was born out of a live collaboration between the artist and experimental industrial pioneer JG Thirlwell (AKA Foetus) at New York’s Guggenheim museum last year: offered the opportunity to play at such a prestigious venue, Nika Roza Danilova decided to hand her songs over to experienced symphonic composer/ arranger Thirlwell to re-imagine them as suitably grand pieces for voice, percussion and strings. Here a selection from Danilova’s back catalogue – songs from 2010’s Stridulum II and 2011’s Connatus, plus one new track – are largely stripped of their electronic sheen and given a chamber-pop studio makeover assited by Thirlwell and the Mivos Quartet, and the results are bewitching, highlighting the delicate, elegant undercurrents in the singer’s usually powerhouse gothic techno-pop. Check out “Avalanche (Slow)”.


Also coming August 20 is the first release for Sacred Bones by Arizona heavy psych crew Destruction Unit. Hot on the heels of their Void LP for Jolly Dream, the aptly-titled Deep Trip – produced by Ben Greenberg of longtime champions The Men – presents eight reverb-drenched burners that sound like a bunch of Grateful Dead records were soaked in acid, buried in the desert, left to bake for twenty years, dug up by speed-freak Motorhead-loving punks and recreated during some weed-fuelled jam session. “The World On Drugs” may sound like a scary place, but it’s not; it’s actually the album’s opening track and it is a very good thing indeed, as you can hear for yourself below.



Track of the day: Mark Fell : Sections 1-7 # Eye remix

A few of my friends will get a kick out of this because we know a Mark Fell who would probably rather eat his own fingers than listen twice to this, but even if you’re not part of my IRL social circle there are still plenty of reasons to check out today’s Track Of The Day, especially if you like your music on the adventurous side. On August 26, Mute offshoot Liberation Technologies will release a new EP – N-dimensional Analysis – by the Sheffield-based producer featuring two side-long suites of typically polyrhythmic, fractal techno; exciting news for fans of experimental electronica, but if that isn’t enough the label are offering up this exclusive remix of the A-side by acid-fried mad professor and Boredoms frontman Yamataka Eye. It’s as loopy as you’d expect given its component parts, and is available to download in exchange for your email address; listen below.


AlunaGeorge : Body Music

Arriving on a wave of word-of-mouth hype big enough to drown most new bands, the debut album from London duo AlunaGeorge comes with high expectations built-in as standard: the group made the short lists for both the BBC Sound Of 2013 and this year’s Brits Critics’ Choice awards (although they ultimately lost out in both cases, to Haim and Tom Odell respectively) and have gained increasing support from the UK’s music-buying general public with every single released. To Aluna Francis and George Reid’s credit, Body Music lives up to those expectations with its unique and insanely catchy fusion of UK bass and minimalist US R&B. On previously heard cuts like “You Know You Like It” and “Just A Touch“, producer Reid builds scrappy little underdog bruisers from sharp percussive pops, crisp snares and video game melodies anchored with growling low-end pulses over which vocalist Francis gets to indulge her inner rude girl, swaggering like a girl guide doing hairbrush Ciara impressions in the mirror; the more overt pop hits fare even better, with “Your Drums, Your Love” adding lovers rock dancehall vibes and the irrepressible “Attracting Flies” offering what has to be the cutest way ever committed to record (“Little grey fairy tales and little white lies/ Everything you exhale is attracting flies”) of telling someone they’re full of shit. New tracks like the sunny, grooving “Kaleidoscope Love” and funky house number “Lost And Found” introduce yet more intoxicating twists, whilst the title track, “Diver”, “Outlines” and closer “Friends To Lovers” slow down the tempo to prove Francis can pull off the sensual Aaliyah thang just as well as those sweetly sassy Lily Allen-meets-Robyn moves. A couple of tracks fall short of the mark – the mushy sentiments of “Superstar” stick out like a sore thumb, and the well-meaning but ill-advised cover of Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” should be treated as the “bonus” track it is rather than part of the album proper – but on the whole Body Music is an accomplished and extremely impressive debut that is sure to have the red-faced suits on the Brits and BBC judging panels wishing they could go back in time and change their votes.

Body Music is out July 29 via Island (UK)/ July 30 via Vagrant (US); listen to the album in full below (note: tracks 14 – 19 are bonus cuts from the deluxe edition, available via iTunes).

Missing Monuments

“King” Louie Bankston is a living legend among the garage rock community: he and the late Jay Reatard were buds and bandmates, and he’s often namechecked as an influence by the Black Lips, but most notably he was a member of the Exploding Hearts, responsible for much of the songwriting on their cult classic Guitar Romantic album. Missing Monuments (out July 30 via Dirtnap Records) is his current band’s eponymous second LP, and – as the denim and leather overload depicted on the cover suggests – it’s an irreverent collection of ’70s-referencing power pop gems as effervescent as a shaken up six-pack, cribbing from new wave proto-punks like Cheap Trick and Elvis Costello, with a pinch of heavy rock (note Bankston’s Rainbow t-shirt) and a whole heap of sugar thrown in for good measure. Imagine the kids from Dazed And Confused a year or two down the line, still drinking on car hoods, still scrapping and blazing doobies and pining after girls that don’t know they exist, only now they’ve discovered amphetamines and the Buzzcocks: these are the feelgood hits of their summer, and most likely yours too. Check out “Answer The Call” below, and stream the album in full over at Spin.

Track of the day : Classixx : All You’re Waiting For # Switch remix

Hanging Gardens, the debut album from LA production duo Classixx, has proved to be one of this year’s most rewarding electronic records; in some cases it has helped ease the disappointment of those who felt the new Daft Punk album could’ve used more robots and less rock, whilst for others it has simply provided the perfect soundtrack to poolside sun-lounger sessions and back yard BBQs. Lead single “All You’re Waiting For” has just been given the remix treatment by ex-Major Lazer dude Switch, who has chopped up Nancy Whang’s vocals and added even more disco bounce. Take a listen and check out the video for the original version below.


Weekend : Jinx

It’s all change for San Francisco’s Weekend on their sophomore LP Jinx, out now via Slumberland Records: they have a new bassist, a new home (having relocated from the Bay Area to Brooklyn) and – most notably – a new sound. The band’s well-received 2010 debut Sports earned them a reputation as one of the loudest and most abrasive groups of the current post-punk revival, but this time around the emphasis is on songwriting rather than scuzz. Whereas that record often – thrillingly – sounded like Joy Division played at earsplitting volume through the blown speakers of a battered convertible doing 110mph through a wind tunnel, Jinx is cleaner, clearer, if no less intense; with its chiming riffs, moody synths and buzzy rhythmic rumble, much of the album calls to mind ’80s new wave and goth, albeit the more flamboyant, pop-leaning end of that spectrum (think Echo & The Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs, The Cure circa The Head On The Door), and whilst there is still an element of textural MBV-style guitar noise peeking through the gloom, the emphasis here is on bright, sleek indie rock peppered with the odd stadium-ready fist-pumper (early U2/ Simple Minds nod “Celebration, FL”). Listen to album opener “Mirror” below, then check out the whole thing over at NPR.

Track of the day : A$AP Ferg : Shabba

Apparently if you want to be like Shabba Ranks, you need eight gold rings, four gold chains, one gold tooth and two bad bitches. That’s a lot more gold and at least one more bad bitch than I can lay my hands on, but judging by the below video A$AP Ferg has it on lock. Apparently the dancehall legend was so impressed with “Shabba”, the second single from Ferg’s forthcoming debut album Trap Lord (out August 20 via Polo Grounds), that he agreed to a cameo in the promo clip, which was shot by A$AP Rocky and features the rest of the A$AP Mob. Good work dude. Now excuse me while I go write a song called “Scarlett Johansson” and approach the actress about making a video…

Fuck Buttons : Slow Focus

Because most of the people I follow are bands, DJs, label reps or press contacts, my Twitter timeline very rarely “blows up” and when it does it’s inevitably because something completely WTF (hologram Tupac, Whitney RIP, R. Kelly duetting with Phoenix at Coachella) has happened in the music world. So when I saw the words “Fuck Buttons” repeated up and down my phone screen one evening last July, I immediately knew that the Bristol-based power electronics duo must have gotten themselves mixed up in something pretty extraordinary. Turns out two of the band’s songs – as well as one from side-project Blanck Mass – were used to soundtrack sections of the spectacular London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, prompting a collective live-Tweeted gasp of disbelief from pretty much everyone involved with the British music industry. But if the decision by the event’s creative and musical directors – film-maker Danny Boyle and UK techno rockers Underworld – to take a group who had, in terms of mainstream success, self-sabotaged their career from the very start and showcase them to an immense global audience seemed somewhat audacious, it also made perfect sense: F-Buttons (as the ever sensitive BBC re-christened them) have always made subtly epic music, the kind that would have made a fitting score for Boyle’s 2007 sci-fi thriller Sunshine, and that lends itself quite naturally to such grand occasions. Now they have several million potential new fans, and have responded accordingly. Self-produced third album Slow Focus (ATP Recordings) is aptly named because – after almost a decade making music together – it is the record that finds the more accessible elements of Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power’s electro-punk-shoegaze hybrid finally thrown into sharp relief. The fuzzy, droning synths that characterised predecessors Street Horrrsing and Tarot Sport are still a major factor, of course, but here instead of abstract scribbles flecked with strafing arpeggios and acid house bleeps and bloops the pair are painting with broader, bolder brush strokes; whereas previously pounding tribal drums would meet the relentless hiss and click of a techno rhythm track and a squalling blend of electronic and analogue noise head on, resulting in a barely controlled explosion you just had to stop and marvel at, Slow Focus is more deliberate, more composed, more cinematic. Opener “Brainfreeze” is a prime example: starting out big and proceeding to get bigger, new layers – drums, pads, bass, synths, guitars, MIDI strings, arcade electronics – are introduced with each cycle, ratcheting the tension up notch by notch and turning the moment of release into an hypnotic sustained climax, a trick Hung and Power incredibly manage to repeat again and again without it ever getting old. Things are darker this time round too. Clearly hip hop-influenced, apocalypse-embracing tracks like “Sentients” and “Stalker” lurch along on mechanised mutant boom-bap grooves, whilst “The Red Wing” (below) – a buzzing bassline snaking its way though ray-gun crossfie and a dawn chorus of robotic birdsong to a crunching, punch-drunk beat – is so malevolent (and reluctantly funky) it could easily pass for an El-P instrumental. If their first two albums conjured up a mental image of Vangelis being dragged to clubland then stumbling bleary-eyed back to the studio to cut some ecstatic avant-dance tracks, then this is the comedown: a little more sombre, a bit more subdued, but still quietly optimistic that triumph is just around the corner. Proving that even dark horses can suddenly become surprise contenders, Fuck Buttons have realised their true potential; a podium finish looks increasingly likely.

Slow Focus is out July 22; stream it – and read a track-by-track commentary from the band – over at SPIN

Track of the day: Omar Souleyman : Wenu Wenu

Who? Syrian Shaabi superstar and Bjork collaborator Omar Souleyman

What? The title track from his forthcoming Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) produced LP Wenu Wenu, out October 21 via Ribbon Music

Why? After twenty years spent redefining his country’s pop scene with his own techno-tinged version of its traditional Dabke dance music and attracting a global cult following with his compilations and live albums (released in the West on the Sublime Frequencies label), Souleyman has finally made his first studio record, and with Hebden on board it promises to be awesome. Even if the album trailer (featuring what is presumably the title track) plays like Borat on disco biscuits. Check it out below.

Track of the day: Fuzz : Loose Sutures

You’d think after releasing three long-players last year, Ty Segall might want to spend 2013 taking it easy, right? Wrong. As well as a new solo record – Sleeper, out next month – the incredibly prolific SF garage tyke will release the debut album by his proto-metal power trio Fuzz on October 1 via In The Red Records. The self-titled set features pals Charlie Moothart and Roland Cosio on guitar and bass respectively, with all-rounder Segall drumming; light some incense sticks and listen to album centrepiece “Loose Sutures” (below) for some heavy Cream-meets-Sabbath vibes and a two minute drum solo.