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. We’re happy to share a typically mixed batch this time around. You’ll find the return of an underground rock band, a brilliant track loaded with harmonies that draws influence from the Laurel Canyon scene, a tune that goes deeply into an Americana sound, a piece of modern metal and more besides… As always, these are just eight picks from the mountain of material that’s come our way, but we think you’ll find something new to enjoy.
Back in June ’23, Local Authority made a big impression with their Cramps infused garage rocker ‘Bad Bad Man’. This follow up single is almost as good, but very different. Adopting a much slower tempo, ‘The Time Is Now’ explores a very 60s sound where twanging guitars evoke the garage rock of bands like The Monks, whist a lolloping rhythm veers closer to a slow burning mod track. It takes a few plays to sink in, but with a well played guitar solo, a solid bassline adding more musical interest and a production job that makes everything sound much older than it is, the band’s approach to retro sounds continues to impress and suggest they’re heading for bigger things.
A more modern take on an old country waltz and sometimes reminiscent of a less hazy Cowboy Junkies, ‘Take It Easy’ by Swimming Bell is a track that’s absolutely brimming with warmth. A slightly reverbed guitar cries against a solid bassline setting a simple melody in place for a great musical arrangement, but if anything is set to win over the listener here, it’s a perfect vocal. Dripping with Americana influenced harmonies, the blend of voices is never less than terrific when sharing a wonderfully honeyed sound throughout. As singles go, it’s more about a mood than immediate hooks, but a familiar sound and fine melody come together to create something almost timeless.
Adding slightly jazzy percussion to a dark folk arrangement, Amigo The Devil takes his Americana based sound somewhere interesting on ‘Cannibal Within’. Dealing with themes of addiction, the lyric is well suited to the performer’s expressive voice, and constantly gives this single an ominous feel, but when placing his emotive tone against a rootsy banjo, it has a heart that many fans of Americana and roots music will find very accessible. It’s one of those arrangements that doesn’t really change from its original remit – you won’t find any big twists or dramatic climaxes here – but the unwavering commitment to those opening moody melodies still draws in the listeners’ collective ear as Amigo The Devil’s candid revelations unfold. Despite the stark lyrics, this feels like a strangely understated single – one that could appeal to fans and new listeners alike.
French punks Mess Out bring the riffs on the tough but melodic ‘Old Days’. A chunky guitar and hard edged rhythm owes more to a US-based punk rock sound – a la Strike Anywhere and early Rise Against – than the usual pop punk, and that allows for a great stop/start riff throughout. A gruffer vocal, meanwhile, is occasionally reminiscent of the best Lawrence Arms tunes and straddles a fine line between anger and melody. You’ll find a strong chorus here too, loaded with rough hewn harmonies that are perfect for a crowd-oriented sing along. Perhaps most impressive, though, is how Mess Out clearly aren’t afraid to veer away from the expected genre tropes. In this case, the single’s instrumental break works a riff that takes a hefty cue from jazz rock, with clean toned guitars and a deftly played lead bass adding a brilliant musical twist.
With a hefty dose of 90s dreampop, a 60s drum beat and a blanket of synths, Fast Romantics’ ‘Smoke + Lightning’ comes close to being perfect alternative pop. There’s plenty of familiarity in the keyboard heavy music, and even in the vocal approach – which will certainly remind some listeners of those 4AD glory days – but the way this band recycles their influences brings a fresh angle to their synth/dream/goth pop. With a strong melody throughout, the number gives vocalist Kirty plenty to work with, and their wavering, slightly filtered presence gives the song a winsome quality that’s hard to resist. It’s all great, but if anything is set to win over the listener here, it’s the track’s massive keyboard riff, where the duo appear to take influence from a couple of old OMD and Tubeway Army tracks and put those through a blender of sadness, creating one of the best downbeat musical hooks ever. For those who enjoy synth-based sounds, this single will be an instant love.
Presenting their first new music for two years, UK metal band Skarlett Riot aren’t thinking small on ‘Chemicals’. It’s a single that pulls three very different ideas together in one place, but never feels incoherent. Without an intro to break everything in, the riff-heavy tune opens with a crushing blast of metalcore, coupled with hardcore vocals, very much at the heaviest end of the band’s musical spectrum. Eventually settling into a more tuneful riff where those abrasive vocals are tempered by a more accessible counter vocal, the more melodic core of the band starts to shine through. Eventually, the shifting melodies arrive a brilliant chorus where Skarlett’s voice augments some great, modern sounding metal which seems set to win over a much bigger audience. There’s a lot to take in here, but once everything settles into an arrangement that sounds like a blend of heavy goth-tinged metal, Halestorm and early Paramore infused with a melodic hardcore rhythm, it’s great. Eventually introducing a few darkwave synth notes, this feels epic in the true sense – a massive tune worthy of its lyrical themes dealing with anxiety and depression.
With a melodic verse full of mid-tempo jangling guitar and an uplifting chorus driven by a bigger guitar sound, ‘Oliver Reed’ by Wax-Tree-Cast feels like a welcome throwback to the mid 90s. However, there’s more to this single than just easy nostalgia. The music brings a familiar sound very much into the present, and via Oolagh Hodgson’s slightly lax vocal delivery, the number has a really laid-back but distinctive tone that gives a real character to some great indie pop. The duo have already opened for The Hold Steady and been championed by Steve Lamacq, but their future looks very bright indeed.
In a massive change of tempo, here’s Emily And, a Buenos Aires based musician, sharing a short and sharp punk influenced track,‘A Llorar’. In under two minutes, the guitars hammer through a speed driven riff which feels like an amped up take on And’s previous anti-folk sound, and her natural vocal adds a real energy to a relentless arrangement. It mightn’t be subtle, and the lyric mightn’t be user friendly to non-Spanish speakers, but that doesn’t ever stop it being thrilling. In terms of pure energy, Emily hits her musical goal from the outset, and by the time the riffs draw to a close, chances are, you’ll be keen to explore her work further.