Larry Gus : Years Not Living

I hate to be a downer, but I don’t think we’re going to see that new Avalanches album anytime soon. You know the one: the decade in the making follow-up to their now classic debut (Since I Left You), the one we’re assured every six months or so is “nearing completion”? Yeah, sorry, that’s not happening, not this year; I mean, if the Australian collective want to give us a MBV-style Xmas surprise, I’ll happily be proved wrong, but barring some kind of music industry miracle I just can’t see it. Don’t shoot the messenger, though, for he brings news of a worthy successor to the party-psych throne. September 2 sees the release of Years Not Living, the latest full-length effort from Greek DJ, producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Panagiotis Melidis AKA Larry Gus, an amalgamation of sunny sample-pop and loose-limbed hip hop funk that sits comfortably alongside the aforementioned Since I Left You, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing and records by the likes of Caribou, J. Dilla and the Go! Team in the pantheon of great cut & paste musical collages. Constructed largely from looped snippets of obscure ’60s and ’70s prog-rock, jazz and world fusion records, Gus’ paisley patchworks skilfully blur the lines between immediate, hook-heavy dancefloor-fodder and dense, multi-layered headphone music; on first listen, for example, you probably wouldn’t realise that the thumping, Kraut-hop beat that propels opener “With All Your Eyes Look” is actually only two bars’ worth of actual drumming, or that “The Eternal & The Ephemeral” features what sounds like a field recording of a New Orleans funeral procession buried under layers of percussion, chimes and free jazz skronk. Similarly deceptive are the two voices that are scattered liberally over the album, one a deep, dolorous croon pitched somewhere between Davids Bowie and Byrne, the other an airy falsetto, both of which – somewhat surprisingly – belong to Gus himself. Whilst nobody could dispute his DJing credentials (you only have to listen to his recent mixes for Construct and Thump to appreciate how skilled he is in the ancient art of moving bodies and minds), Gus has thus far seemed like an odd fit for the DFA label, one that would probably feel more at home with the crate-diggers at Stones Throw than with James Murphy’s hipster-beloved stable, but these vocals – these half-mumbled melodies and zombie chants – make sense of the connection, transforming Gus’ productions into deliciously leftfield mutant disco pop songs. Wildly experimental but accessible enough to appeal to hip hop heads, indie kids and the club crowd alike, Years Not Living won’t just fill a void, it’ll pull you in and blow your mind; listen to “The Night Patrols (A Man Asleep)” below.

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Track of the day : Juana Molina : Eras

Juana Molina - "Eras" (from the upcoming album Wed 21)

It shouldn’t really matter that Argentinian singer-songwriter Juana Molina used to be a comedienne, still best known at home as the star of a sketch show that finished twenty years ago, but that pop trivia nugget seem to pop up every time she releases an album. In fact, it could be more relevant than you might think: perhaps it’s her background in making people smile that gives her songs the warm fuzzy glow that sets her so far apart from many of her crossover world music contemporaries. “Eras”, the lead single from forthcoming sixth long-player Wed21 (out October 29 via new label Crammed Discs), is as playful and pleasant as we’ve come to expect, breezy Latin jazz rhythms and subtly shimmering electronics colliding under Molina’s acoustic guitar and wispy vocals; listen below.

Volcano Choir : Repave

It’s been a couple of years since the last Bon Iver record, and if the man himself is to be believed it’ll be a couple more before we hear the next one, but Justin Vernon hasn’t exactly been sat on his hands these past few months: as well as producing the Blind Boys of Alabama and girlfriend Kathleen Edwards’ most recent LPs and lending his vocals to Kanye West’s Yeezus, he’s just put out an album with his gospel-blues trio Shouting Matches and next week will release the sophomore full-length from Volcano Choir, his collaborative project with old friends Collections Of Colonies Of Bees. Repave, out September 3 via Jagjaguwar, is to Bon Iver what VC’s Unmap was to Vernon’s solo debut For Emma, Forever Ago; part big budget Hollywood remake of a cult art-house favourite, part experimental remix project, finding new approach routes into familiar territory, CoCoB pulling apart their buddy’s soul-searching songwriting and weaving the threads back together into intricate post-rock patterns. So whereas For Emmas‘s hushed acoustics provided inspiration for its predecessor’s loopy, glitch-ridden ambient soundscapes, Repave finds itself informed by Bon Iver‘s ’80’s-leaning cinematic rock, making for a more accessible – if no less adventurous – listening experience. Vernon may have publicly expressed a certain unease at his new-found “award-winning rock star” status, but as the epic, electronically enhanced likes of “Comrade” and “Byegone” (below) prove, it hasn’t put him off writing the kind of songs that could blow the roof off a packed stadium; check it out over at NPR.

Neko Case : The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

Neko Case- Night Still Comes

If the 19-syllable mouthful of a title isn’t enough of a giveaway, Neko Case‘s sixth studio LP The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You (out September 3 via Anti-) is an incredibly wordy album, one of confessions and conversations, of arguments and accusations; at times, with its references to kings and conflict, and lust and poison and bloody vengance, it sounds as though the 42 year-old singer is reading aloud from the pages of her own alternative Game Of Thrones books. Written during a three year period of depression following the deaths of her grandmother and both her estranged parents, The Worse Things Get finds Case plundering the nooks and crannies of the English language for gloriously descriptive ways to express her grief and anger, whether imagining herself “swallowed waist-deep in the gore of the forest” or pitching never-to-be-answered questions out into the afterlife (“If I puked up some sonnets/ Would you call me a miracle?“); she even puts instruments aside altogether on the stunning acapella “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu”, a few gut-wrenchingly poignant words of advice to a fellow abandoned child glowing stark and bright like a beacon in the darkness. Even Case’s issues have issues – see the Twelfth Night gender-bending japes of “Man” – but whilst her schizoid stories blur the lines between fact and fantasy so convincingly that it’s often unclear whether it would be best to inform a psychiatrist or a policeman (“I only ever held one love, her name was Marianne/ She died having a child by her brother/ He died because I murdered him“), they also happen to be set to some of the best tunes of her career: from slow-burning Stax soul (“Night Still Comes”) to galloping glam-rock (the aforementioned “Man”, probably the closest solo Case has come to the power pop of her “other” musical endeavour the New Pornographers) and into more familiar alt-country territory (“Calling Cards”, “Local Girl”, “Wild Creatures”), The Worse Things Get has even more in the way of potential awards fodder than its Grammy-nominated predecessor Middle Cyclone. Repainting her blues in bold blacks and reds, this is Case laughing in the face of her sadness, finding light in the darkest depths and in the process creating her masterpiece; listen to “Night Stiil Comes” below, and stream it in full via The Guardian.

L.I.E.S. Records megapost : Bookworms, Jahiliyya Fields, Samantha Vacation, Torn Hawk

Bookworms-Japanese Zelkova (LIES-030)

As anyone familiar with the American Noise compilation released at the start of the year will attest, Brooklyn’s L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems) – the label started in 2009 by DJ, record store employee and all-round NYC dance music authority Ron Morelli – currently stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field in terms of gritty, analog-based experimental house and techno; the headstrong, obscurist younger brother, if you will, to the iconic if more overtly populist DFA Records. Here, to prove that point, are four of their newest offerings, each showcasing a different aspect of the label’s musical aesthetic, from dancefloor bangers to twisted synth workouts to crazy electronic free jazz to epic ambient dreamscapes and beyond. Information about the artists involved is hard to come by, so just listen, enjoy and lose yourself to dance.
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Bookworms “Japanese Zelkova” (from a forthcoming 3-track single):

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Jahiliyya Fields “Aeon Anon” (from the forthcoming Pleasure Sentence EP):

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Samantha Vacation “Samantha’s Vacation” (12″ single, out now):

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Torn Hawk “Born To Win (Life After Ghostbusters)” (from forthcoming split 12″ with Black Deer):

Track of the day : Virginia Wing : Common Ground

Extended Play cover art

Who? London four-piece Virginia Wing

What? “Common Ground”, the propulsive lead-off track from their forthcoming Extended Play EP

Why? If you’re reading Foam Hands, there’s a fair chance you like yourself a bit of Can, probably some Stereolab, maybe even Robert Wyatt, and if you do you’ll find plenty to tickle your fancy here. Following singles for SexBeat and Critical Heights, the band have just signed with the Faux Discx label (Cold Pumas, Hookworms), who on September 16 will release the aptly titled five-song EP digitally and as a limited 12″ vinyl run of 300; get aquainted with their gently psychedelic prog-pop below.

Track of the day : Bill Orcutt : Zip A Dee Doo Dah

A History Of Every One cover art

Ex-Harry Pussy guitarist Bill Orcutt has already released one great album this year, the Chris Corsano collaboration The Raw And The Cooked, so the news of an additional solo record will come as a welcome surprise to avant-rock fans everywhere. A History Of Every One, out September 30 via Editions Mego, features Orcutt covering a host of well known (if perhaps not exactly well regarded) “standards” – songs like “White Christmas”, “When You Wish Upon A Star”, “Black Betty” and “The Ballad Of Davy Crockett” – in his own inimitable style. According to the press release, “Orcutt interrogates the apparent banality of his material, subjecting it to discontinuity, disjuncture and a fractured repetition that is disturbing and revelatory”; to me, it just sounds like glorious noise. Listen to “Zip A Dee Doo Dah” below.

Track of the day : Parquet Courts : You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now”

One of 2012’s best records – Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold – finally started getting the recognition it deserves when it was given a wider release earlier this year by What’s Your Rupture? (but remember where you heard it first), and now the Brooklyn-based quartet are set to debut new material. On October 8 the band will put out a five-track EP entitled Tally All The Things That You Broke; listen to the motoring, insanely catchy lead track “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now” below.

Sub Pop double : No Age and His Electro Blue Voice

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Foam Hands readers are going to think I’ve struck some kind of sponsorship deal with Sub Pop come December; recent releases from Pissed Jeans, Baptist Generals and Daughn Gibson are already assured high-ranking positions in my year-end list and this week the iconic Seattle label add another pair of aces to their killer 2013 catalogue. First up is album number four from L.A.’s No Age, who are starting to feel a little bit like the new elder statesmen of the contemporary punk scene, especially given their renewed commitment to the movement’s original DIY ethos: obsessed with the idea of not just making a record but literally making a record, guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/ vocalist Dean Spunt took it upon themselves to print, cut, stamp, assemble the packaging and ship the 10,000 LPs and CDs that comprise An Object‘s limited edition run. This restless creativity also led to a revision of existing working processes, an “if it ain’t broke, fix it anyway” shake-up that has yielded stunning results. If previous releases split the pair’s output into two fairly distinct categories – bratty, barbed grunge nuggets and quasi-ambient experimental palette-cleansers more akin to the Enos and Tim Heckers of the world – An Object finds Spunt and Randall bringing those elements together, adding a dash of weird to more straightforward rockers (hollering over the multi-layered one-note guitar chug of “No Ground”, adding strangled air-raid siren riffage to “C’mon Stimmung” or feedback, synths and chirping electronics to the rather lovely “Running From A Go-Go”) and vice versa, building plaintive pop songs around concrete drones (“My Hands, Birch & Steel”, “Commerce, Comment, Commence”) and even combining contact mics and a string section on the dreamy “An Impression”, below. A few lyrics hint at an old-school, system-smashing rebellious streak (“I don’t care what you say/ I don’t work for you“, “I won’t be your generator/ You’ll get no power from me“), but this is no angry protest punk. Rather, like some fantasy brainiac bro-down between Fugazi and the Minutemen, An Object is a physical and mental workout; the sound of a band pushing itself for fun, challenging themselves and their audience and emerging fitter, happier, more productive. Stream it in full via NPR.

https://soundcloud.com/subpop/no-age-an-impression

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No Age might be keeping the flame burning, but 6,000 miles away in Lombardia, Italy another bunch of punk rock pyros are busy lighting fires of their own. The curiously named His Electro Blue Voice are the latest addition to the increasingly far-reaching Sub Pop family, but a word of warning to the relatives: don’t accept any dinner invitations, lest you find yourselves the main course. In the nicest way possible, these guys (and gal) sound like the kind of bloodthirsty creatures one suspects would eat their own young, and not because they had to. Debut LP Ruthless Sperm (ahem) oozes malevolence like a slasher flick oozes blood, Francesco Mariani, Claudia Manili and Andrea Napoli throwing pummelling industrial rock, spittle-flecked gothic psychobilly, throat-shredding hardcore punk and driving Krautrock rhythms into a blender and vomiting up the resulting concoction in spectacular fashion. Sounds delightful, yes? Well, yes actually, especially if you like your music with balls as well as teeth; because whilst opener “Death Climb” lurches like Rollins with a killer hangover and “Sea Bug” rattles by like the Buzzcocks with a robot drummer, tracks like “Spit Dirt”, “Born Tired” (below) and “The Path” bravely veer away from gnarled noise and gory violence into extended jam territory. Whilst the idea of post-punk bands locking into tightly wound, hypnotic grooves might have lost some of its appeal of late, HEBV steer clear of simply hammering a single riff into the ground, instead using bright, Neu!-like major-key chord progressions and throbbing, gear-shifting bass runs to justify their songs’ six, seven and eight minute durations. Moreover, synths are used for more than just the standard Suicide drones, adding uplifting flourishes – psychedelic starbursts, electro-pop arpeggios, acid house squiggles – and even chilly trip-hop atmospherics (gloomy Joy Division-meets-Massive Attack closer “Red Earth”). As unpredictable as it is unhinged, Ruthless Sperm will keep listeners cumming (sorry) back for more; listen to the whole thing via MTVHive.
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25 Recommendations

Cassette_Desktop_by_revoltvideo

It’s been a while since we last did this, and there is a lot of great stuff around at the minute that I won’t get chance to cover in any kind of detail, so here are 25 recent and soon to be released albums that I’m liking and in some cases loving. You know the deal: no links, no waffle. Just check out the sample tracks below, and if you like any of what you hear it’s up to you to find out more. Enjoy.

A$AP Ferg Trap Lord (Polo Grounds/ RCA)

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Jonathan Rado Law & Order (Woodsist)

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Running Vaguely Ethnic (Castle Face)

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Celestial Shore 10x (Hometapes/ Local Singles)

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DIANA Perpetual Surrender (Jagjaguwar/ Paper Bag)

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Forest Swords Engravings (Tri Angle)

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Light Heat Light Heat (Ribbon Music)

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All Pigs Must Die Nothing Violates This Nature (Southern Lord)

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Califone Stitches (Dead Oceans)

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Arca &&&&& (Self-released)

Dustin Wong Mediation Of Ecstatic Energy (Thrill Jockey)

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King Krule 6 Feet Beneath The Moon (True Panther Sounds)

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Youth Code Youth Code (Dais)

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Jacuzzi Boys Jacuzzi Boys (Hardly Art)

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Ras G Back On The Planet (Brainfeeder)

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Speedy Ortiz Major Arcana (Carpark Records)

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Sidi Toure Alafia (Thrill Jockey)


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Moderat II (Monkeytown)

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Carcass Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)

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Prodigy & Alchemist Albert Einstein (Infamous)

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Hebronix Unreal (ATP Recordings)

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Sean McCann Music For Private Ensemble (Recital)

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Jel Late Pass (Anticon)

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Gorguts Colored Sands (Season Of Mist)

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Tsembla Nouskaa Henget (New Images)

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