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. For this twentieth selection, we bring you some light electronica with a souful feel, some sprawling prog rock, a brilliant cover tune, and more besides. As always, we make no apologies for the broad range of styles featured, and we hope you find something to enjoy.
As we enter the last quarter of 2023, Bristol’s Little Thief continue to deliver more great music. They released the best album of 2021, and their previous single ‘Geronimo’ hinted at more good things over the horizon. ‘On The Line’ trades in some of the previous single’s more mechanical elements for a much bigger riff, but even with a harder edge, the band sound absolutely terrific. Opening with a huge twang, akin to a much tougher sounding Black Keys, the track then uses the tough guitar as a base from which to build up a retro sounding tune loaded hefty drum beats and unapologetic organ drones. The combination of slightly darker sound and more ominous riff results in a much moodier Thief, but Charlie’s blues-drenched vocal and a howling lead guitar offer a stronger link with ‘Under The Patio’s best material. If you’re already a fan, this will thrill. If you aren’t a fan, this could well make you one.
Taken from their 2023 album ‘La Cruella’, I Am A Rocketship’s ‘Gravity’ is an interesting choice of single. Although plugged as “dreampop”, it has very little of the genre’s typical haze. Instead, a dreampop-esque vocal floats above a taut bassline which sounds as if it has roots in an old 60s soul record. The 60s vibes also come through a chiming rhythm guitar part which, again, is quite far removed from dreampop’s usual blanket of sound. What this creates, however, is a lovely slice of other worldly pop, where L.E. Kippner’s vocals sit beautifully against some retro music, and with the featured guitar solo drawing from some melodic jazz elements, it results in a single that sounds like very little else at the time of release.
Broadly speaking, ‘Missing You’ by King of Cups is a blistering pop punk single. Exploring the guitar driven riffs more closely, the band delivers a huge wave of jagged riffs set against an emo-friendly melody, adds a little extra alternative flavour, and loads up the vocal harmonies to create something that sounds a little more thoughtful than your average pop punk band. The single, drenched in themes of love, loss and grief flaunts a chorus melody that aligns itself very closely with latter day blink-182, yet has something about it that’s a little fresher for the genre at the time of release. The harmonies are occasionally a little unsettling in the way they use a slightly off-kilter tone to express the lyrical message, but never in a way that stops the track being accessible. The band have previously been described as “pop punk’s best kept secret”. This might just help them become more of a known quantity.
Opening with a set of muted chords set against a strong pop-ish vocal, ‘Not Now, Love’ by heavy on the heart. is one of those tracks that immediately grabs the attention. Blossoming into a full scale rocker that brings a 90s influence into the present, its huge, crashy chords that drive a great chorus are terrific, whilst a very accessible vocal continues to contrast the big rock sounds with something much more radio friendly. At times, almost sounding like the missing link between Metric’s rockier sounds and early Paramore, this is a track that deserves being played back loudly…and often.
Now we live in a world where Morrissey isn’t shy in sharing some massively questionable views, listening to The Smiths has become problematic at best. Minneapolis band The Persian Leaps are on hand with some relief for an army of struggling fans, with a cover of the classic b-side ‘Jeane’. They’ve taken the track, retained its croony vocal melody and placed that against a tight backdrop where a world of 80s riffs are delivered with a huge power pop slant, creating a guitar-heavy sound that’s very much their own. The melody is recognisable, but much bigger than before, and possibly even better for it. The phrase “everything old is new again” very much applies here, as The Persian Leaps really bring a new spark to an old favourite, despite never feeling as if they’ve rebuilt the track from scratch.
There are massive early Weezer vibes abound on this upbeat tune from Norwegian noise pop merchants Killer Kid Mozart. What this lacks in originality, it makes up for in spirit, however, and ‘Destroyer’ is one of those tracks that’ll transport you straight back to the late 90s in the best possible way. Armed with a huge distorted riff, an angsty emo-ish vocal and a quirky Farfisa solo, it isn’t exactly shy in sharing a love for Rivers Cuomo at his best, but the end result is one of those rock singles that’ll sound great propping up any number of playlists, and its marriage of chunky melody and simple hook remains effective after repeated listens. Nostalgia rarely sounded so good.
Here’s another voyage deep into the heart of the 90s courtesy of Spearside, whose ‘Trendsetters’ blends the noisier elements of Sebadoh with a punky spirit. Its spiky riffs come in with a real intent, never letting up across two minutes, but the energised sound has a great feel. The jagged rhythms powering the opening verse are especially cool, and beneath the distortion, a couple of nods to power pop lend a great melody. There’s a superb chorus here too, which sounds great the first time out, and even better following a key change for dramatic effect. It’s one of those singles that seems to be over almost as soon as it’s begun, but the brevity only makes everything more exciting!
Last up, Darkness Is My Canvas take an unexpected turn on the epic ‘Inverted’. Trading in most of the heavier elements of their previous single ‘Drown’, the band move sideways from big post-rock sounds into a complex world that celebrates much older prog-based influences. Right from the off, a world of clean toned guitars convey a love for latter day Opeth and even ‘Argus’ era Wishbone Ash, and moving through the track, moments of sedate acoustic guitar, synths and vocals echoing old mellotron moods, fluid and funky bass work and a couple of nods to Floyd via Gazpacho each bring something great to a very 70s sound. A heavily wah-wahed solo offers more of a link with some of the band’s harder sounds, but never takes the listener out of the very retro musical soundscape that’s gradually been built, and at the point where you think they couldn’t add any more to the kitchen sink arrangement, there are militaristic drums and a couple of Beatle-esque melodies, a choir of vocals and an unexpectedly sweary refrain to create a more frivolous climax. It’s a nine minute journey that has no care for the conventions of the single format, and in many ways appears to be a culmination of all of the band’s experiments to date. [Warning: NSFW lyrical content]