The food of love

Tom Ravenscroft on the dilemma of choosing songs for a dinner party

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah put me off my food this week. I realised almost immediately that they were a bad choice when I looked up and saw that other people's jaws had also slowed. I had been asked to put on some music during dinner and considered them a safe bet - the final piece of seasoning to a feast I had otherwise had no hand in. It was the least I could do and, one would assume, a task I would excel at, but the pressure was unexpectedly immense and the choice a clear failure. I was never that keen on them in the first place, to be honest.

I always get a little flustered when asked to put on some music at a party/soirée/barbecue-type thingy. I'm aware that no one is taking all that much notice, but one person might care and for me that's enough. The problem stems from spending so much time listening to music alone. It's fine in a group when you don't care too much for the music being played, but if it's something I consider of great importance, I worry that someone won't like it, or worse, will talk over the best bits because it has failed to catch their attention.

Other Lives have a new album out called Tamer Animals, which I suspect is going to be wildly popular but does demand that you pay attention to it. The lads from Stillwater, Oklahoma have clearly put a great deal of work into their latest offering and as a result it's a somewhat complex and dramatic creature. At times it sounds like it might be trying to tell you something rather important, so it would be rude to talk over it. It's an album that may get the oft-flung criticism of having too many tracks that sound the same, which is something I've never really had a problem with, as long as the one track is good. In fact I quite like it: different chapters to the same story.

Destined for similar levels of stardom is Slow Club's new album Paradise, tracks from which you can soon expect to see scrawled on the covers of mix-tapes made by pining young sweethearts up and down the country. Charles and Rebecca, who sound like they would make a nice couple, are from Sheffield and have been referred to as the UK's answer to the White Stripes, which is slightly misleading in that, while she does play the drums, he isn't one of the greatest guitarists I've ever heard. It is at times more party-oriented than Other Lives, but even during such occasions it sounds so sad. I confess I have listened to this record a lot and in doing so have developed genuine love for parts of each track. I actually can't listen to this album with anyone else because I would ruin it by providing a running commentary. The track "Two Cousins", for example, has a single piano chord running pretty much throughout the three minutes and 52 seconds of its existence, changing only once at 3:33. I would spend every moment leading up to this point, saying "not yet, not yet . . . now!"

I've been meaning for a while now to mention a chap called Dustin O'Halloran in this column. He composes classical music; the type of music another chap, a scientist I think, once proved is the most suitable music to eat to - he might have even claimed it helped digestion. The Fat Cat Records imprint 130701, set up with the intention of releasing what they call "post-classical" music, recently reissued Dustin's album Vorleben, a much more traditional-sounding album than the works of his I was used to. It takes the form of a single performance recorded live in Grunewald church, Berlin, including the background noise of people shuffling on old, uncomfortable pews and occasionally coughing, both of which only add charm. If a guest attempted to talk over it, I would start on them.

So, instead, I have been around and made sure that no one at the party speaks Spanish and can therefore understand the lyrics to a Cuban CD I have in the car. They can listen to the songs but it's not such a concern if they talk through a few lines. That's going to have to do.

Tom Ravenscroft's radio show is on BBC 6 Music every Friday at 9pm

Fresh sounds from the BBC 6 Music DJ

This article first appeared in the 08 August 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Slum rule