Discover: Sacred Bones Records

Wondering Sound Staff

By Wondering Sound Staff

on 10.25.12 in Collections

It took a mere two releases for the fledgling Sacred Bones Records to establish their identity. The label’s first record, a 7-inch from Denver-area band the Hunt (friends of Sacred Bones founder Caleb Braaten), looks like a run-of-the-mill single. But when the label put out Blank Dogs’ <em>Diana (The Herald)</em> EP, the look and feel of a Sacred Bones release was cast in stone. Their mysterious logo depicted a black triangle encircled by a snake eating its own tail, with the label’s name printed below in a decaying typeset font. Beneath it, a tasteful, right-justified, serif-styled text detailed the basics about the album in question. Not since Vaughan Oliver and v23′s work with 4AD has a label boasted a visual aesthetic so complementary to the music it accompanied.

When one thinks of Sacred Bones, one thinks of Zola Jesus, but the label’s musical identity was well established before she came on board: The label’s home to out-there garage rock outfits (Timmy’s Organism), expansive psychedelic combos (Moon Duo) and good-old-fashioned kick-your-teeth-in punk rock (the Men). And just as Zola Jesus’s music has matured beyond the hiss and static that typified her earlier work, Sacred Bones has grown as well. Taylor Brode, a former Touch & Go employee, came on board in 2009, and now runs day-to-day affairs at the label with Braaten and other staffers.

To celebrate the label’s fifth anniversary, we’ve got a free sampler to help you figure out where to start, and we asked founder Caleb Braaten to tell us what drew him to some of the label’s core artists.

Now’s your chance to step into the shadows.

Nika has been on the label since she was a teenager. She is our daughter, our sister and our best friend. Watching her raw talent grow over the last four years into an unstoppable global takeover is awe-inspiring. Every time she hands in an album she outdoes herself, refusing to stay stagnant or create the same work and over again. Conatus is no exception; it is the sound of her crystallizing her ideas into a totally uncharted sonic landscape. We could not be more proud of her and are delighted that the rest of the world is finally catching on.

The Men are a true punk band in the classic D.I.Y. sense of the word. These are the dudes we call when we need to borrow a drum kit at 2 a.m., or when we need 300 LPs screened in 24 hours. There is no “wave” that can contain them, and they intend to keep it that way. To support their first record, they embarked on a U.S. tour -- self-booked — that found them playing 47 shows in 39 days. Open Your Heart was one of the most gripping releases we've ever listened to.

New Raytheonport absolutely blew our minds the first time we heard it. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him on his follow-up LP, Horribles Parade, which exponentially exceeded our expectations. Gary War's singular vision is absolutely inspiring; he is one of the most forward-thinking, psychedelic minds out there. Genius is an understatement.

Sean Ragon has been a friend for some time, and in the early days, Cult of Youth was his solo project. Rooted largely in neo-folk tradition, Sean made some amazing records on his own and worked with some labels we really respect. It wasn't really until the first time we saw them as a full band that we realized what their potential could be. They delivered one of the finest records we have ever heard, and they have absolutely no counterpart in the current “indie” climate.

Timmy Vulgar is the last bastion of authentic, weird punk. Timmy is a true artist; he makes his own videos, designs his own albums and posters, and creates perfect other worlds where aliens and humans co-exist in a psychedelic punk utopia. He is a kind and wonderful asset to our family, and truly supports his local Detroit scene and the punk scene at large. The world would be a terribly boring place without him.