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 selection sees the return of singer songwriter Shaun Finn with a rather rocky track, some electronica infused pop, a mellow piece of singer songwriter fare and more besides. As always, we hope you find something new to enjoy.
Combining steady beats, a wave of electronica and a very retro pop sound, ‘Mishima’ by Daphne Guinness wastes no time in setting a great, slightly mechanical melody in place. Musically, it’s really solid and strangely catchy. Vocally, things take a rather odd turn when Daphne’s voice is treated to so much post production, it floats against the music, almost sounding like extra instrumentation. That said, in terms of creating something rather striking, it’s brilliant – almost sounding like a remix of an old Cocteau Twins tune. A spoken word interlude might remind some listeners of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ in another retro twist, but even that musical detour feels as if it enhances the track, rather than being there just for show. Overall, this is an unexpected treat; one of those bright sounding tunes that sounds ready made for any eclectic playlist.
By adopting a busy rhythm, Von Loop’s ‘Yo-Yo’ is one of those tracks that grabs the attention immediately, but offsets its immediate sound with a song that’s more of a slow burner in terms of actual hooks. Straddling a style somewhere between indie and retro rock, it feels a frenetic three minutes with choppy guitars and strange echoing keys, and by adding a heavily reverbed vocal, it takes on a strange sound that doesn’t seem to fit easily into an era. Comparisons could be made with Kings of Leon, or a couple of early 00’s indie bands, but that would be doing the number – and the band – a massive disservice. ‘Yo-Yo’, with its combination of bustle and melody, full on vocal and a hook that slowly reveals itself over time exists in its own little bubble, creating something that pulls in the listener gradually. Once the band have you, chances are you’ll find yourself backtracking to (re)explore previous sounds, meaning this single has more than served its purpose.
Shaun Finn’s ‘Rise’, released earlier in 2023, fused a jangling guitar line and thoughtful lyric in a way that made the Irish singer songwriter sound like a natural heir to the Evan Dando throne. On ‘Times Are Changing’, he retains a very 90s feel, but adopts a louder approach to his guitar playing, resulting in a tune that sometimes sounds like a homage to classic Foo Fighters fare. That’s not to say his familiar sound is uninspired; the chunky chords constantly uplift a strong vocal, and in terms of easy chorus hooks, Finn shares something massively catchy, pretty much guaranteed to stick after the all important third play. This single is everything a radio friendly rock tune should aim to be.
The lead track from Emily Wolfe’s current album ‘The Blowback’, ‘Silencer’ offers a massively fuzzy guitar riff throughout. The dirty sound is augmented by an instrumental element that occasionally sounds like it’ll slip into ‘Babylon’s Burning’ by The Ruts, and the generally raucous feel is perfectly suited to Wolfe’s vocal, which isn’t about to take a back seat. Her vocal switches between sounding like an angry KT Tunstall and a blues rock cry, but a very distinctive warble employed in places gives Wolfe a real urgency. The single may well attack at full throttle before stopping dead after three minutes of riffs, but it’s great to hear this passionate performer really embracing an energetic style.
With the aid of a Neil Young inspired guitar riff and bright sounding piano, Lee Gallagher serves up some great roots rock on ‘Baby I’m There’. The recording doesn’t convey the kind of mellow vibes as the recent album from The Matinee, but it definitely has a similarly old soul. Beneath the guitars and swirly organ sounds, you’ll find a country-ish melody which sounds like an old Jayhawks classic souped up by Crazy Horse, and Gallagher’s wavering voice really adds a fragility to something that could’ve sounded, maybe, a little too throwaway. With the help of an unfussy hook and a great guitar solo, this is almost guaranteed to please fans of louder Americana sounds.
Taking a very folky approach, David San Clair’s ‘Juni’ – an ode to his daughter – comes loaded with strummed acoustic guitars, but from there, the tune grows into a warm sounding slice of adult pop. Aiding David’s high, warbly voice, a warm bass anchors a fine melody, but its the mournful strings underscoring the heartfelt lyric that really makes the track. By the climax, a huge hook is left to cry repeatedly, and joined by a wall of great harmony vocals, it really works. Like David Gray and Glen Hansard, San Clair is never afraid to go back to singer-songwriter basics, and this track shows how a relatively simple arrangement can quickly blossom into something that’s genuinely bigger than first impressions would ever suggest.
A tune originally recorded by Lou Miami & The Kozmetix, ‘I Live With Ghosts’ sounds great in the hands of another cult band from Boston. Cold Expectations’ take on the track isn’t shy in sharing a world of Link Wray-esque guitar lines, adding a surf-like quality to a spooky garage rocker, but that dominating feature isn’t the only cool thing here. Scratch below the surface and you’ll find a taut bassline that continually pushes the melody forward and some great Dogmatics inspired rhythm guitar, adding to the Boston sound. The arrangement remains unchanged from the original 80s cut, but with a great production job – courtesy of The Neighborhoods’ David Minehan – and a much bigger vocal, this deserves to become the definitive recording.
Armed with a garage rock riff, a natural vocal, and a tongue in cheek narrative, Mary Middlefield recounts several failed relationships throughout the punchy ‘Sexless’. A sharp melody and an even sharper lyric meet each other on a surprisingly catchy number that soon outgrows its musical origins with the addition of a few strings and a much bigger melody than first impressions would ever suggest. By the time the main refrain has hit the listener a couple of times and all of the musical ingredients are in place, Middlefield reaches inside herself for a much more impassioned vocal, and by the track’s end, this sounds like one of the best singles of 2023. [Warning: NSFW lyrical content]
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