by / May 27th, 2011 /

Top Story: State’s Office Stereo – Beirut, Scuba, Guided By Voices, Niki & The Dove and more…

A weekly feature in which our writers share their favourite tracks of the week.

Beirut – ‘O Leãozinho’ (chosen by Alan Reilly)

Mandolin guitar and Zach Condon’s winning yodel, it doesn’t take much more than that. ‘O Leãozinho’ means “little lion”, it’s song by Brazilian composer Caetano Veloso covered by Beirut for the Red Hot + Rio 2 charity compilation – a tropical tune, sung in Portugeuese, it’s a little exotic with less horns that most Beirut tunes, but it does have flute and staccato percussion. And of course a drunken haze.

Beirut – O Leãozinho by allstarsandrew

Scuba – ‘Before’ (Chosen by Daryl Keating)

This is a dubby little track that floats through your face with the effortless moves of a shady hummingbird. The haunting vocals and layers of effects make it eerie, yet unmistakably alluring. There are a lot of basic elements at work here. It’s clear that this tune has roots in both dubstep and drum & bass, but at the same time it remains entirely separate from those genres. If you are looking for a song to accompany you on a lengthy sky dive, I think this one would do nicely indeed.

Niki and The Dove – ‘The Fox’ (chosen by Anna Forbes)

Ah Sweden, we’d be starved for pop without you. ‘The Fox’ starts with fragile spoken word that builds to a soaring melody over fluttering synth chimes, cello strikes, 80s infused bass line and stuttering rhythms. Malin Dahlström is a star. At some point you will read: “Kate Bush & The Machine covering Bats For Lashes”. But not here.

Niki And The Dove – The Fox by Voler

Ulver – It is Not Sound (chosen by Patrick Fennelly)

The word ‘metamorphosis’ does not always apply to bands, some groups are lumped with the word when describing a change in sound in between albums, yet it is not always entirely relevant or necessary. Metamorphosis is a word that certainly applies to Ulver though. Back in 1995 amidst a controversy surrounding burning churches and other anti-Christian acts, Ulver released part one of their ‘Trilogie’. A triptych, if you will, of black metal inspired by Norwegian folk tales and traditions. Their diabolical, folky metal image did not last long though. In 1998 they released their musical interpretation of William Blakes ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’, a blend of avant-garde rock, progressive metal, electronica and ambient music that to this day is almost impossible to categorize. Since that incredible, well, metamorphosis, they have released a series of genre shunning albums and soundtracks that make them easily one of the most interesting, and prolific bands of the last 20 years. ‘It is Not Sound’ is taken from their album ‘Blood Inside’ on Jester Records, a testament to their diversity and experimentation.

Tokimonsta feat. Shaunise – ‘Solitary Joy’ (chosen by Ian Maleney)

Sounding like an even smokier Flying Lotus, Tokimonsta brings the art of the slow jam to the heart of the Brainfeeder sound. For all the glitches and off-beat rhythms, this songs keeps to it’s own insistent R’n’B groove and the smooth vocals of Shaunise add an eastern air to proceedings, blowing opium smoke all over this dreamscape.

Guided by Voices – ‘Game of Pricks’ (Darragh McCausland)

The comedian Stewart Lee recently gave an interview to The Quietus where he said of Guided by Voices “Them and The Fall are the best bands of the last 30 years”. He was so right. So, so right. Ever since the dust settled on the 1960s, no songwriter has come close to Robert Pollard for writing melodies like ‘game of pricks’. In fact, if John Lennon was still alive, I’d wager he’d pull a classic Lennon move and hate Robert Pollard for no other reason than sheer grudging respect.

Carly Simon ‘You’re So Vain’ (Chosen by Lisa Hughes)

Was it written about Warren Beatty? Or was it David Geffen? Or how about the Pope, is it about him? Although Simon herself has made this the most long drawn out game of musical Cluedo in history, who really cares? What matters is, from the first opening whisper of “Son of a gun” to the taunting repetition of “Don’t you, don’t you?”, Simon created one of the sassiest and comical putdowns in AOR. Withering but at the same time poignant (“you gave away the things you loved, and one of them was me”) ‘You’re So Vain’ surpasses ‘woe is me’ break up tripe by staying pretty melodious about Mr Chained-to-the-Mirror in question. Not just my tune of the week but one of my faves ever, this record is proof that you don’t need to scream and shout in a song in order to stick the knife in.

CocknBullKid – ‘The Hoarder’ (Chosen by Ciarán Gaynor)

Sometimes you hear a song and want to press repeat over and over and over. This is just what I did with this track from CocknBullKid’s debut album “Adulthood”. Like many songs on its parent album, “The Hoarder” is a sketch of a troubled person’s day-to-day life, but far from being whingey or depressing this is a as uplifting a pop song you could wish to hear – even though the chorus goes “This is the house that heartbreak built”. CocknBullKid (aka Anita Blay) and her co-writers Liam Howe and Hannah Robinson are to be highly praised because this song is economic, focused and more importantly, completely brilliant.

NWA – ‘Straight Out Of Compton’ (Chosen by Phil Udell)

While it undoubtedly led to twenty years of rubbish, nasty and lazy hip-hop (oh hello Odd Future), ‘Straight Outta Compton’ was a genuine watershed moment. Relentless both in sound and lyrics, it’s still as frighteningly powerful today as when they became America’s public enemy number one. The fire would soon burn out, leaving them just another rap crew short on ideas and long on clichés, but this will always leave the subsequent generations in its wake.