by / June 17th, 2011 /

Top Story: State’s Office Stereo: Handsome Furs, Italo-Disco, Snuff, Drake, Take That & more

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

Handsome Furs – ‘Repatriated’ (Chosen by Simon Roche)

This side project from Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner and his wife Alexei is now approaching the third album Sound Kapital and on ‘Repatriated’ they just keep pumping out their dirty, fuzzy synth sounds with Boeckner’s choking guitar growling over the arrangements. Live they are a REVELATION and I can never listen to them without thinking of that night in Rust, the two of them sweating and draped over each other between songs just to stay on their feet. The best thing about a new Handsome Furs release is you get more brilliant press photos of the couple, and complete with a very revealing photo of a young lady under a bridge on the album cover, you have one complete package. If marriage is like this GET ME A RING!

Raf – ‘Self Control’ (Chosen by Ciarán Gaynor)

A comprehensive book on Italo disco was begging to be written, and Piers Martin’s Italo Disco: A Secret History Of Modern Pop may just be the definitive account of this incredibly intriguing continental pop phenomenon. The defining record of Italo disco is surely Raf’s ‘Self Control’ which, while sounding a bit wimpier than Laura Branigan’s famous cover, still has an incredibly strong allure – possibly because it boasts more melody in its five and a half minutes than some bands manage in a career. Raf is a bit of a rock legend in Italy now. Who’d have thought it, eh?

The Very Best feat. Ezra Koenig – ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ (Chosen by Niall Crumlish)

I spent 2006 and half of 2007 in Malawi, which is the Warm Heart of Africa in the same way that Ireland is The Emerald Isle (though not quite as crap as that). I go through periods of intense craving for life there, and this week was one of those times, hence this tune. Aside from that, ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’ is perfect, punchy Afro-pop, shades of 1983 Bowie but better; exultatory, irresistible. Not that this, mind you is the sound of pop music in Malawi. Westlife is the sound of pop music in Malawi. Ridiculous how huge they are there. True story.

Take That – ‘Never Forget’ (Chosen by Elaine Buckley)

Bit of a no-brainer for me this week… Considering how much I cried when Robbie Williams departed the group in 1995 (thus rendering the t-shirt featuring his face I had spent my communion money on completely useless), this Saturday at Croke Park is gonna be a big occasion for me. The four-piece Take That’s ‘Circus’ show in 2009 was nothing short of spectacular – and I doubt that the ‘Progress’ show will manage to top it. Nevertheless, to hear the five boys belt out this classic altogether will be a childhood dream come true.

Beaumont – ‘Midnight’ (Chosen by Liam Griffin)

In which the unknown Scottish producer sings softly over slow beats, funky bass and hazy synths creating a perfect late night summer jam. Hypnotic R&B is everywhere this year but the irresistible charm of Beaumont’s Blush Response EP (and this track in particular) is worthy of special mention for its sheer catchiness and replay value. Close your eyes, listen to this song and pretend we’re having a heatwave. Another wonderful introduction to a promising youngster from Kinnego Records.

Drake – ‘Marvin’s Room’ (chosen by Alan Reilly)

It might be hard to believe, but even platinum-selling stars get the jilted love blues and Drake has them so bad he makes that mistake of a drunken phone call to an ex-girlfriend. But his mistake is our gain, ‘Marvin’s Room’ is a mellow mid-tempo R&B jam with a slow popping beat and Drake sing-talking his regrets, pleas and all the wrong things from outside a club, the lady’s retort being “Are you drunk right now?” Sound familiar?

Sleep ∞ Over – ‘Casual Diamond’ (chosen by Daniel Harrison)

No wait, come back! Sleep ∞ Over may have a moniker that looks like it came straight from the witch house name generator, but they’ve long since transcended any dubious associations. Essentially the solo project of Stefanie Franciotta after her former bandmates left to form Boy Friend, Sleep ∞ Over deal in a form of ‘ghost ‘n’b’ ‘ that’s by turns lulling and strangely unsettling. ‘Casual Diamond’ surpasses their previous haunted highpoint ‘Sun Spots’: a dramatic drumbeat introduces a tune that’s all churning synths, otherworldly vocals and Cocteaus dream-pop vibes, with a killer chorus for good measure.

Snuff – ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ (chosen by Phil Udell)

You can’t beat a good hardcore punk rock cover version and this is one of the best. Taken from their Snuffsaidbutgorblimeyguvstonemeifhedidn’tthrow-awobblerchachachachachachachachachachachayou’regoinghomeinacosmicambience debut album, it would be followed by versions of the Four Tops’ ‘Reach Out’, ‘I Will Survive’ and the Shake & Vac advert . See also: Leatherface – ‘Talking About A Revolution’ , Quicksand – ‘How Soon Is Now’ .

The Crookes – ‘Godless Girl’ (chosen by Elizabeth Rushe)

When art and music collide: I just recently stumbled upon the Crookes by way of a crooked illustration of the band drawn by artist Sally Renshaw for Spindle magazine. Not only that, but the corresponding video (directed by the band) is thoughtful and hypnotic in a way that keeps you desperately watching over and again. Very simply put, this has all the right bits that make a great song. ‘Godless Girl’, the leading song of their debut album is a definitive earworm. Before I could finish writing this recommendation I’ve bought the 7″ single from Fierce Panda. (I’m sure I’ve accounted for several hundred of those Youtube views this week). Oh and they are a band confident enough in their music to describe it as “pop”.

The Japanese Popstars – ‘Shells Of Silver’ feat. James Vincent McMorrow (chosen by Patrick Conboy)

As a whole, the latest album from The Japanese Popstars is a disappointment, but there are moments when they do get it right. ‘Shells Of Silver’ is one of them, with the slow-paced tempo of the track providing the perfect foil for James Vincent McMorrow’s world-weary voice. The result is a thing of spine-shivering beauty.