Welcome back to the Real Gone Singles Bar, the place where we explore some of the individual MP3s that have landed in our inbox over the previous few weeks. As usual, we’ve been spoilt for choice when it comes to submissions, and we’ve enjoyed exploring a whole world of recent music – often from unfamiliar bands. This week, we bring you a mix of rock and pop, a downbeat tune from a cult singer songwriter based act, and a brilliant slice of melodic punks. Hopefully you’ll discover something new, or even find something or someone that, in time, will join some of your favourite artists.
First up, Portland based singer songwriter Berkley explores a timeless pop sound on ‘Your Place’. His very natural voice soars above a brilliant pop-rock arrangement that often suggests a love for later period Rilo Kiley and Lissie, and very occasionally threatens to drop into something Fleetwood Mac-esque, thanks to a solid bassline. He’s not purely about the pop, though; a strange keyboard interlude suggests a liking of retro new wave and – best of all – a shimmering guitar line that adds a brilliant musical counterpoint throughout lends an unexpected dreampop tinge. Whichever way you approach it, this single sounds like something made for radio.
‘Singin At The Train’ by Falkirk’s Artesan is a single of many moods. Firstly, it breaks in the listener gently with an extended intro of pulsing synths, sounding like a throwback to Simple Minds circa ‘Empires And Dance’. It then takes a dramatic left turn with a few bars of acoustic guitar, before the body of the track hits with some melodic alt-rock. The track’s blend of jangling electric guitar and solid pop-rock melody shows off a band with a solid backbone, but in keeping with the number’s ‘Band On The Run’-like false starts, there’s a further surprise when frontman Ronnie Bissett breaks into a massive croon as opposed to the expected “rock voice”. A tune reliant on grand atmospheres rather than immediate hooks, this is a single with big ideas, but a few plays will reveal something that’s both melodic and mature.
Applying a very wonky approach to post rock and alternative sounds, My Octopus Mind crash into ‘Wandering Alone’ with a genuine intent. This current single opens with a heavy riff that takes an angular swipe at a prog metal sound, before drifting into something that has faint echoes of old Pineapple Thief tunes. The blend of pulsing rhythm and wordy vocals, takes a time to get your head around, but the band’s approach to an ever shifting musical narrative is very tight. At the outset, there’s little to suggest that they’d end up sharing riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on King Crimson’s ‘Thrakk’…but this bendy riff-monster is a brilliantly unsettled beast.
From the moment ‘Melty Brains’ opens with its huge rattling drum part, Forty Foot have your attention. Then moving into something more melodic, the Dublin based alternative rock band hits you with a hugely melodic and very familiar vocal which has the ability to make the listener feel a huge wave of 90s nostalgia. Adding layers of distorted lead guitar, the track straddles a fine line between tough melodic charm and hard edged alt-rock, but within that epic sound, there’s a familiarity that’ll make this single a winner.
There’s a fine balance between gorgeous melodies and a gripping sadness on ‘This Place We Live’ by Matthew And The Atlas. This single goes deep into the heart of the singer songwriter, when Matthew sings candidly of feeling afraid, of holding on, and seeking ways to grow in strength. His gravel-edged voice takes a little tuning in on behalf of the listener, but its natural tones really sell the lyric, while some gently finger picked guitar weaves a timeless melody beneath the honest narrative. A stripped down number, its almost percussion-free stance forces the listener to listen to the lyric and the vocal, and by the time a gentle backing vocal edges in, something that at first sounded a little maudlin has blossomed into a heartfelt folk pop number that’ll really grow on subsequent listens.
Masters of a classic doomy sound, Thunder Horse very much bring the heavy on ‘After The Fall’. This six minute epic finds the San Antonio riff lords opening with a groove laden nod to the mighty Black Sabbath, before switching gears to unleash something even slower and heavier in the Electric Wizard mould. These two monolithic sounds will be enough to ensure fans of the heavier end of the stoner metal spectrum will be entertained, even though the unfussy shouted vocal owes more to a hardcore style. Things get better still when the band decide to unleash a third musical mood for the track’s epic close. Here, muted guitars tip the hat to Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1’, and multi-layered guitars add welcome 80s metal tones, before dropping back to rely the track’s main vocal hook bolstered by unexpected harmonies. Finally, a blues toned lead guitar creates a very melodic climax. There isn’t anything here that would win over those who aren’t into metal, but it’s fair to say these guys aren’t doing things by halves.
Following the surf rock vibes of the brilliantly titled ‘Secret Agent Man On A Wire Tapped Phone At Sea’, Guitarmy of One returns with the similarly retro ‘Soylent Seafoam Green’. This time around, the thin and hard surfy twang is tempered by an equally retro 60s jangle, allowing Scott Helland (previously of the pre-Dinosaur Jr hardcore band Deep Wound) further space to explore a melody. The way he weaves Dick Dale interludes between a semi-acoustic lead calls back to classic surf sounds, whilst a solid drum part is used to drive a groove. It mightn’t be especially original, but there’s a definite charm in the way Helland presents bright sounding lead guitar lines on this semi lo-fi track and, for those into the style, with a couple of familiar desert oriented melodies into an otherwise surf laden piece, the emphasis will certainly be on fun. It might be predictable at times, but why mess with a formula that works so well?
Armed with a set of overdriven chords and an emo inflected vocal, the sounds of 90s punk are very much celebrated on ‘Fabric of Humanity’, a stand-alone single from The Fly Downs. Its opening riffs really capture the mood of later Ataris recordings, and a high energy melody really drives the first half of the track when coupled with a very melodic vocal. However, despite being in possession of a great riff and chorus, this track’s real interest comes from its display of tight musicianship, and by being unafraid to drop into a slow groove coupled with terrific lead bass work when other punky bands would take a much more predictable route. Lovers of melodic punk sounds will take to this in an instant, and if this single draws in new listeners who’ll backtrack to the band’s 2021 full length release ‘At This Point In Time’, then its work is done.