by / July 29th, 2011 /

Top Story: State’s Office Stereo – Metronomy, Rihanna, Actress, John Cale, Africa Hitech & Nirvana

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

Metronomy – ‘In The D.O.D.’ (chosen by Louise McHenry)

Long before Joe Mount had himself the support of a full-time band, and long before Metronomy were creating the enchanting, restrained rhythms they’ve now become known for, a Metronomy song was a glorious electronic slop. Always well-crafted of course, but kitchen-sink crammed full of every catchy effect and noise. If Mount could think it, in it went. In its essence, ‘In The D.O.D.’ is a simple little song, but it has that cluttered sense to it – in a good way, of course. There are about five repeated hooks or riffs throughout the song, put together in different layers. And… Actually, forget trying to get technical… it’s just popping electronics and bouncy little riffs. If you don’t feel good listening to this, then you’re dead inside.

Rihanna – ‘Rude Boy’ (chosen by Lisa Hughes)

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m no Rihanna fan. Honest. I don’t rate her as a live singer and I find her whole ‘I’m dirty like a porn star’ schtick as fake as Naomi Campbell’s weave. But…’Rude Boy’ is a choon. Lyrically it’s not much cop but flooded with icy attitude and playing on Rihanna’s Barbadian musical roots (and inimitable accent) it’s one of her standout singles after a couple of years of chart saturation. Whether you’re scavenging the reduced aisle in Tesco, having Wednesday night pints or flipping burgers in your local chipper, ‘Rude Boy’ is a slick soundtrack that’s hard to resist.

John Cale – ‘I Keep a Close Watch’ (chosen by Darragh McCausland)

On the cover of Helen of Troy, his third solo album for Island Records, a straight jacketed John Cale sits on a throne in a white room, staring madly at us. For other artists, such a pose might be a contrivance, but at this stage in his career Cale’s coke and booze damaged psyche was as brittle as spun sugar – he had one foot in the loony bin. It’s testament to his talent that, like David Bowie who was treading similarly treacherous waters at the same time, he managed to convert his mental dissolution into captivating music.

On an album that swings between monstrous, slithering, slow-glam jams on the one hand, and wistful romanticism on the other, ‘I Keep a Close Watch’ is one of the stand outs, a hypnotic lament to a lost love arranged in a rich orchestral style reminiscent of Cale’s earlier Paris 1919. Its tender and delicate sentiment are rendered all the more precious in the context of the rest of an edgy album that at a different point sees Cale rhyming Picasso with Asshole and envying him for being able to treat women like objects and get away with it.

Actress – ‘Parallel World’ (chosen by Alan Reilly)

This song have been bookending my days for weeks now. First thing in the morning the melody unveils itself, one minute spark at a time, revealing a busy sheet of humming electronics beneath. Last thing at night it lulls in fizzing ambience. ‘Parallel World’ is a nine and half minute celestial tapestry – off-kilter lines of rhythms wind in and out, dragging abstract vocal sound-bites into the weave. On some listens it is frenetic and uneasy, other times unruffled and tranquil – such is its brilliantly complex composition. Darren Cunningham shared the track earlier last week via Twitter, saying only “Sleeping in the next werld” (sic), and you will be too, in a dreamlike trance.

Actress – Parallel World by Nialler9

Africa Hitech – ‘Light The Way’ (chosen by Daniel Harrison)

There’s a few tracks from Africa Hitech’s album 93 Million Miles that I could have happily chosen, but this is probably the best of the lot. Africa Hitech consists of Mark Pritchard (Harmonic 313/Global Communication) and Steve Spacek, and their sound is a compelling mixture of styles including dancehall, dubstep, jazz, dub-techno and footwork. ‘Light The Way’ is an otherworldly-sounding track, combining menacing bass rumble, intricate percussion and a hypnotic central loop. The sample is from Sun Ra’s ‘When There Is No Sun’.

Nirvana – ‘Territorial Pissings’ (chosen by Patrick Conboy)

Nothing clears your head like a good loud, shouty rock song and they don’t come much better than Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’. It was part of my daily playlist during my angsty teenage years and, though those days of playing Nevermind incessantly are well behind me, it’s still my trusty go-to song when I need to let off steam. The speedy, sloppily-played guitar riff, rumbling bass and heavy-set drum beats are all very fine, but it’s Kurt Cobain’s over-stressed vocals that make the song; by the time he starts yelling “gotta find a way/a better way/I’d better wait” during the outro, it sounds like he’s about to spew out his larynx. The effect is like taking a scouring pad to your brain.

Lykke Li x Drake – ‘Little Bit’ (chosen by Anna Forbes)

So here’s how it goes, one music blogger’s tweet reminds another and next thing you know a three year old song is back on trend. Before his rise to the hottest R&B star in the world, certainly out of Canada, Drake had indie leanings (which still stand true due to his recent collaborations with SBTRKT & The Weeknd). Back in 2008 the then up and coming new boy added popping beat and dope verses to then it girl’s hit song. The result is a cute and edgy modern duet, “Both in sync like a Justin song.” He’s come a long way since Degrassi High.

Drake & Lykke Li- Little Bit

Everything Everything – ‘Photoshop Handsome’ (chosen by Michelle Bond Dolan)

‘Photoshop Handsome’ by Everything Everything has been released twice, first in 2009, then again in January 2011, albeit a rebooted 2.0 version, following the release of the Mercury Prize nominated debut album ‘ Man Alive’. The Mercury Prize nomination prompted me to give album another whirl (yes, I am a marketeers dream), and ‘Photoshop Handsome’ has been the track that has hooked me. It’s a joyful kooky number, with lyrics like ‘Airbrush, what have you done to my father? Why does he look like a carving’, backed with a steady drum beat and layers of keyboards. It is a perfectly formed song with it’s call and response chorus, a simple beat and a triumphant climax. The theme of the song, image manipulation, is thoroughly explored in the accompanying arty video. This is going to be the song that wins over the Electric Picnic crowd when the band plays there this September.

Craft Spells: Party Talk (chosen by Jennifer Gannon)

If the sound of four Goths sitting in an abandoned venue surrounded by slowly deflating balloons, drink-sticky tables and over flowing ashtrays sounds like your idea of a good time well this is the track for you! Awash with tinkling bells, oddly sunny Baleric beats, an infectious twisty riff and topped off with the most morose vocals since someone trod on Robert Smith’s favourite lipstick, it’s the perfect contradictory mix of glorious hip swinging and sullen gin glugging that should be the soundtrack for the schizophrenic summer we seem to be having.

Clams Casino – ‘Motivation’ (Chosen by Cormac Duffy)

Considering he first gained notice supplying beats to terrible MCs (Lil B and Soulja Boy being two of his clientele), it wasn’t hard for Clams Casino’s music to seem stellar by comparison. It took a mixtape of instrumentals to show just how good he was. Detached from the distractions of his collaborators’ bravado rap, the tracks revel in their own woozy, sputtering genius. ‘Motivation’ does to hip hop, what How to Dress Well did to R&B, covering it in a layer of distortion and reverb that lets its inherent melody and atmosphere shine through. Taken from easily one of the best hip hop releases this year, its perfect for a spaced out day in the sun.

Hackman – ‘Your Face Pulling My Hair’ (chosen by Daniel Harrison)

The Close EP is the latest in a string of impressive releases from Ben Hackman that have showcased a unique take on house/funky influences. Taken from it, ‘Your Face Pulling My Hair’ combines a swinging, infectious groove, intricate percussion and deep gut-shaking bass.