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. This popular feature has become a home for eclectic sounds, for jumping between genres, and for shining a light on a few famous, but often not so famous musicians. The variety keeps things interesting, but also gives coverage to a few bands that might not gain a full length album review. This week, we bring you a near perfect piece of adult pop-rock, the return of a retro rock/power pop should-be legend, a Beatle descendent dabbling in electronica, and more besides. As always, we hope you discover something new. If you have something you think might fit a later feature, please get in touch.
Being the son of a Beatle, Dhani Harrison needs no introduction, but this solo track much darker than his early work with thenewno2. ‘Damn That Frequency’ delves further into the electronic sounds of Harrison’s ‘IN///PARALLEL’ album from 2017, filling five minutes with solid beats and working a slow, droning melody that slowly pulls in the listener. On top of the sometimes detached music, his vocal adds a welcome and necessary human element, and a repetitive refrain further helps something that could have felt cold maintain a strangely alluring quality. It isn’t until a sizable guitar part that the track’s elements start to fuse properly, however, and a guesting Graham Coxon on sax adds depth to the mechanical backdrop. It’s a real slow burner of a track, but worth sticking with.
The melodic tones of Lonehead’s ‘Heavy Weather’ don’t seem to belong to a specific era. There’s something about the melody that calls back to 90s Americana and bands like The Connells. There’s a warm heart to the track that seems to live somewhere in the distant 70s. It’s even got a faint echo of Neil Finn’s best work. Whichever way you approach it, though, it’s a single with a terrific melody. The gently repetitive lead guitar riff sets a brilliant musical hook in place with immediate effect; the warm bass suggests an arrangement with a real heart, and a very smooth lead vocal pulls everything together with a honeyed feel that owes more to adult pop than any melodic rock. Between the guitar work of Glasgow legend ‘Uncle’ Jim Kelit and the perfect vocals from Martin Jenkins, this is set to become a firm favourite with listeners who love melodic pop-rock, and with good reason.
Singer songwriter Erin K channels a pleasing indie pop sound on ‘Breathe’, a single that fuses a heavily rhythmic melody with a smooth and breathy vocal. The mix of solid bass work and echoing guitar is pleasingly retro, whilst Erin’s voice retains a very contemporary feel. In addition, you’ll find a few very subtle piano flourishes and a very 60s sounding guitar solo bolstering some brilliant pop. This contrast of moods keeps the track interesting throughout, and the very radio friendly sound should be appealing to a very broad audience.
Often straddling a post-hardcore and metalcore sound, French band Ways. certainly don’t skimp when it comes to riffs. On ‘Erase’, those riffs take a particularly abrasive stance, eschewing the usual pneumatics of metalcore and, instead, adopt an almost shoegaze-like sheet of noise. This works very well, at once pulling in the listener, but at the same time, keeping up an affront that wants to keep them at arms length. The cold sound is a perfect backdrop for an equally cold vocal, and with the rhythms occasionally dropping in an even more intense hardcore breakdown, the number brings a couple of classic metal subgenres into the present with ease. If you came looking for contemporary riffs, this certainly won’t disappoint.
At the beginning of 2023, The Shang Hi Los released their first full length album. Its unashamed love of retro rock and pop resulted in a disc that had instant appeal. Their guitarist/vocalist, Dan Kopko – aka Danny The K – has also been putting in some extra-curricular recording time. ‘Sugar Rush’ doesn’t quite hit that perfect spot for pop-rock, but there’s plenty here for old school power pop geeks to love. The track’s blend of bells and beats sets up a quirky base, but its the chiming guitars that’ll win listeners’ hearts, and although Dan’s gravel-edged vocals are sometimes at odds with the tune’s candy-striped centre, his natural flair works well enough, stopping everything becoming that little too sweet in record time. There’s something here that feels very familiar, and for his fans, it’ll be more than enjoyable fare, and a couple of spins will certainly be more than enough for the single’s simple hook to stick.
Taking a new wave rhythm and adding shimmering dream pop guitar tones, ‘Jane Tells A Lie’ by Coyle Girelli has a genuinely uplifting quality. It wouldn’t be a great leap of the imagination to expect something similar from The Killers in an upbeat mood, or from Ryan Adams taking a massive musical curve ball but, at the same time, Coyle has his own distinctive talent. The track’s uptempo melodies and forlorn croon sometimes feel at odds with each other, but at the same time, that contrast provides a stylistic choice that works. As the number gains momentum and he hits a few unexpected falsetto notes, Coyle’s vocal gains even more of a striking quality, but it never comes at the expense of a fantastic tune. In terms of alternative pop, this is lovely.
Hometown of the legendary Slade, Trapeze and Cloven Hoof, Wolverhampton has long been on the rock music map. Here’s another great band for you: The Black Hounds. This quartet add a groove metal flair to a stoner-ish tone on ‘Breaking The Cycle’. Throughout the track’s four minutes, the riffs have a very strong bottom end tone which always ensures a classic sound. The single has one of those heavy-ish you’ll love straight away, and even though the vocals bring an unexpectedly overdone feel in places, the overall sound is one that shows a real flair and love for classic riffs. Sometimes sounding like a blend of Sabbath, Orange Goblin and rock ‘n’ roll titans The Black Spiders, this is a hard edged number that sounds great with the volume cranked, and bodes very well for the future.
Having already secured national radio play, Glass Violet find themselves on the verge of bigger things in 2023. ‘Too Late To Come By’ makes it really obvious why the Bristol band already have their champions. Latching on to a very radio friendly pop-rock sound, the single’s mid tempo approach allows room for a fine ringing guitar and synth combo, whilst a strong vocal guides a melodic verse into a rousing chorus where gang vocals boost a great indie-pop melody. A quieter middle eight calls back to more of an 80s sound, before building back up towards another outing for a great hook. This is familiar, but no less strong for that, and a really clean production job really brings out the best in a timeless arrangement. In short, this is a fantastic track.