Welcome back to the Real Gone Singles Bar, the place where we dip into the various individual tracks and mp3s that have landed in our inbox over the previous few weeks. As 2023 draws to a close, the tunes are still coming. This week, we’ve got a second track from a great singer songwriter, a couple of strong pop punk bits, and the return of the legendary Michael Des Barres. It’s a slightly rockier selection this time around, but we hope you’ll find something of interest.
Do you have a new or recent single you feel would be suitable for inclusion in a future Singles Bar? We’re always on the lookout for new material, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact button at the top of our home page!
Shannon Smith’s solo debut ‘Dance The Night Away’ was 2023’s best single. Its love of 70s pop and incessant wordless hook created a near perfect retro treat. For his follow up, Smith changes the mood to something more downbeat – he’d have struggled to find something more positive! – and ‘I’m Gonna Change’ presents his clean, friendly voice over a deep, almost soulful groove. Clean guitars fill space between beats, smooth brass and strings augments a genuine sadness, but Shannon remains the true star throughout. Armed with a questioning lyric and a need for growth, this single is as strong as it is sad, and the performer’s natural talent continues to shine.
Falling squarely between the poppy end of pop punk and tough power pop, Cadet Carter have a sound that could easily be compared to Jimmy Eat World and Bowling For Soup. Their melodic, harmony driven style sounds great on ‘Lift Me Up’, a tune that takes a Sum 41-ish rhythm and augments it with extra pop, allowing for a very melodic chorus to float above a bouncing riff. By the time the chorus rolls around a second time it’s clear that this is one of the band’s best tunes to date, and with the help of a choppy middle eight and smart lead break, the single sounds like a genre classic.
This single from ZacTheLocust presents a slightly different pop punk sound, but is still very commercial. ‘Hold On’ breaks the listener in slowly via a verse where a stop start riff chops with intent against a steady rhythm, often allowing the vocal melody to take the lead. After breaking into a harmony filled chorus, it really comes into its own with a world of harmonies set against a ringing guitar, eventually branching out a little further with the help of moody instrumental break and a great twin guitar sound. In terms of genre, it plays to tradition, but with a strong pop core, this callback to the glory days of New Found Glory et al takes the Welsh band one step further towards being pop punk household names. [Warning: video contains images of Boris Johnson, a man best described by one Twitter user as “a sentient bag of custard”.]
With a rumbling bass and ringing guitar, the intro to ‘Here Comes Your Ghost’ by Vinyl Station has a pleasingly 80s feel, and a muted riff used effectively throughout harks back to U2 circa ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ with ease. This isn’t just a straight 80s homage, though; there’s something coming through the vocal melody that owes something to early tunes by The Killers, and the overall mood captures something that deserves to be on the radio in the present. Armed with a huge vocal and the kind of melody that slowly breaks its way into the listeners’ collective consciousness, this is near perfect pop/rock – timeless adult oriented sounds that present a band about to eclipse their previous work.
They’ve evolved from thrash to melodic metal, but this single from Bavarian riff-mongers Dust Bolt takes an even bigger move forward in terms of commercial potential. Clinging onto a riff that combines one of Slayer’s slow chuggers with the power of Metallica circa 1991, ‘Disco Nnection’ comes with some hefty musical boots. The way the band have taken old, familiar riffs and shared them with just as much heft is admirable, and the clean vocal retains just enough grit to lend the piece an extra power. With a shift into a more groove laden sound from the mid-point – sort of hinting at disco but never quite getting it – then a further shift into a slow, almost anthemic melody to finish, the arrangement seems very knowing, but at the same time provides a perfect five minute showcase for a tight band. [Content is NSFW.]
‘Bounce Back Baby’, the first collaboration between Michael Des Barres and Kris Rodgers, was a feelgood pop/rock treat that brought out the very best in both performers. This cover of Delaney & Bonnie’s ‘Soul Shake’ isn’t quite in the same league, but with the emphasis firmly on fun, there’s still plenty of excitement being whipped up during its three minutes. Michael’s slightly gruff style isn’t a match for Bonnie Bramlett’s brassy tones, but he gives the tune his all, whilst the rest of the band work really hard to keep a solid rock ‘n’ roll groove. Along the way, you’ll find a pleasingly fiery lead guitar break, a selection of backing vocals that bring everything further in line with the original cut and a general party vibe that’s hard to resist. The real star here, though, is Kris. The pianist plays up a storm throughout, dropping in fills that call back to the rock ‘n’ roll energies of early Elton live shows, keeping everything buoyant. It’s one of those covers that works even if you’re unaware of the source material, and gives a strong feeling that this musical pairing has as much fun performing together as their audience has listening…
Dead Reynolds have kept themselves busy since the release of their ‘Frontier’ EP during the 2020 lockdown. Since then, the alternative rockers have shared a full length release and a string of digital singles, the latest of which – ‘Hurricane’ – is a riff heavy number that straddles rock and deep electronic beats in a really exciting way. From the moment the deep synths swell during the intro, there’s a feeling of something great afoot, and the arrival of a massive hook cements the band’s massive melodic gifts. You’ll also find some brilliant extra textures via a well placed lead guitar part which dances above the crunch before dropping in an old school solo, and a further venture into great vocal melodies for a huge climax. A fine return.
With a pleasingly choppy rhythm, ‘All We Need’ by The Intersphere has a poppy undertone, and the commercial aspects of their current single are reinforced via filtered vocals and a strong rising melody going into the chorus, but its a brilliantly layered track. The poppier elements are reinforced by a few rocky guitars, a fuzzy bass sound and a strong rhythm bringing more of an indie influence, but whatever you take from the track, its hugely melodic chorus – where harmony vocals dance against ringing guitar sounds – win out. This massively radio friendly tune deserves to be played loudly and will take the band into 2024 in the most confident way.