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. A popular feature, the mixed bag approach at the Singles Bar has often allowed for coverage of things that people wouldn’t necessarily associate with the site. The selection this time around is a little more rock based in places, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of interesting twists, and a jazzy, downtempo track definitely provides one of the best tunes. We present the return of Big River with a very melodic track, some brilliant pop, an interesting take on a classic band, and more besides.
Here’s something that really shows off potential in a brand new musical act. ‘Please Lie To Me’ is the debut single from Liverpool’s Beatowls, and it doesn’t really fit neatly into a genre pigeonhole. Building from a downtempo rhythm, the music fuses trip hop and dark indie pop; the tones are often closer to electronica, but infused with electric guitar lines, it has an altogether different feel. The moody vocals almost take on a late night, smoky vibe. The blend of voices – Darcie Chazen’s jazz inflected cry, and a barely disguised northern twang from Tom Roberts – also seem to explore Beatowls’ broad palate, since these voices compliment each other, but in theory, wouldn’t necessarily seem like a natural fit. With a slow-burning hook joined by an equally underplayed melody, the song sounds like something that belongs on a film’s opening credits – a bold move for a band barely out of the starting blocks. With the track already drawing comparisons to something that “distorts Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood’s trippy idealism”, for some listeners, this will be an instant love.
Latching onto a stabbing piano riff and a jaunty rhythm, Shannon Smith strikes retro pop gold on his debut single ‘Dance The Night Away (Do Do Do Do)’. Unashamedly the stuff of an AM radio past, the track shares a familiar melody throughout (it comes quite close to ‘Just One Look’ by Iain Matthews in places, but recycles it with love), whilst the addition of old style organ and chirpy brass lines really bring Smith’s take on a classic pop sound to life. With a jazzy interlude that would make Billy Joel raise a smile and a summery pop vibe that captures the spirit of Mick Terry’s best tunes, this is a single that’s not to be missed.
In ‘Time To Move On’, alt-pop band Elk City find themselves in possession of a modern classic. At the outset, the single’s mix of rigid rhythms and slightly twee vocals doesn’t seem that special, but given time to warm up, the arrangement takes a couple of very interesting twists. Firstly, there’s a gentle shift when the mechanical rhythm is juxtaposed by a really cool fluid bassline. Then, a big harmony vocal is applied to give a once understated tune a bigger hook. In most capable hands, that would be enough to make the tune stand up, but Elk City go one better. For the instrumental break, their adult pop is subjected to a huge solo where a layer of sound and fuzzy guitars veer closer to 70s prog and, unexpectedly, the melody sounds as if it’s been strongly influenced by Caravan’s classic ‘Nine Feet Underground’. Those looking for interesting but accessible adult pop-rock will love this.
A side project from Somali Yacht Club’s Ihor Pryshliak, Super Pink Moon takes the musician’s previous stoner influenced sounds into new territory. Never limiting its musical canvas, this second single has a richly layered sound where almost gothic moods underscore a stoner-ish tone. Bolstered by some fine, clean vocals, its first half is great, but it’s when branching out for the instrumental jam that SPM’s real magic can be experienced. An extended instrumental coda takes a desert based mood into prog territory with the help of a few spacey synths and a soaring lead guitar. Occasionally sounding like a less intense Toundra with the addition of vocals, ‘GodEater’ is the kind of single that could pull in listeners from alternative, prog and prog metal audiences alike, suggesting even better things ahead.
Bristol’s Kite Thief revisit the busy sounds of Goldie and the heaviness of Fear Factory’s ‘Demanufacture’ during the intro of the excellent ‘Judge Judy & Executioner’, but the single isn’t just a rose tinted love letter to club nights from the mid 90s. The way they blend the familiar sounding riffs and loops with a very melodic, emo-ish interlude and contrast the abrasive edge with clean accessible vocals creates something far greater, with a blending of genres that feels strikingly original. The combination of busy music and vocal combined with a couple of crushing riffs would’ve made this enjoyable enough, but the fact that they still find time for a user friendly chorus shows that they also understand the importance of hooks. and the whole package creates something really vibrant, and at the point where you think Kite Thief have shared all of their musical skills, they take another late twist and unveil another catchy vocal hook and a massive djent riff, ensuring this melting pot of noise is impressive throughout. Fantastic.
Right from its opening strums, there’s something really friendly about The Sleeping Souls’ ‘Weathering The Storm’. As the track builds, those strident guitar chords underscore a great pop-rock tune with light indie tones, and a louder electric sound eventually drives a big hook. Not that that hook is any rush to arrive; the band holds it back for as long as possible, allowing the arrangement to subtly build tension in the best possible way. Once out of the bag, though, they hit the listener with it a second time, pretty much instantly. Thanks to an increase in volume, it’s one of those times when a one-line hook will more than suffice, and by using as the track’s final bait, it ensures memorability even once the listener has moved on. In a little over three minutes, the band shares a tune that sounds like it’s made for radio – a single that more than suggests that although they are best known as Frank Turner’s backing band, they’ll reach a devoted fan base on their own terms.
With their 2022 EP, ‘Beautiful Trauma’, British blues rock band Big River took a fairly big leap in terms of songcraft. New vocalist Adam Barron brought a better sense of melody to the table, and the guitar work on the four tracks seemed far more nuanced. It presented the sound of a band on the rise. ‘Wings’, a new single for 2023, sees the band growing a little more. Written by bassist Simon Gardiner, the track has a really melodic edge. A cleaner sound, a light bluesy tone on a very tuneful guitar solo and some fine harmony vocals shares more of a love of Lynyrd Skynyrd and later period Allmans than the previous slabs of heavy riffs, and the track’s big chorus has an old soul which taps into something timeless. By the time the tempo takes a dramatic shift and Simon’s bass is pushed to the fore, you also get a sense of a band who’ll still rock when the mood is right.
If you’re going to cover something, you should make the track your own. This is something that hasn’t escaped Kabbalah, who’ve rebuilt Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Sailor’s Lament’ from the ground up. Taking one of the classic band’s deeper cuts, the occult rock band layer the main melody with dark but folky three part harmonies, sounding like The Unthanks and 70s folk rockers Trees through the prism of a doom band, and slowly crank the spooky mood until massive, doom laden riffs and a massive chugging guitar fill the second half of the track. It might be sacrilege to treat such a revered band in this way, but for all of it’s darkest tendencies, it’s a re-imagining that never feels heavy handed. For those who don’t like things on the heavier side, it mightn’t appeal, but those vocals are irresistible. [Let’s try and ignore the fact that they’ve spelt “credence” correctly on the video’s title card, which actually misspells the legendary band’s name!]
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