After launching the Real Gone Singles Bar in June 2023, we found ourselves covering an even broader range of music than before. It became a natural home for anything that mightn’t see a follow up album, or music that, perhaps, might not lead to a full review. The popular feature also became an easy way to introduce people to new music, and our inbox became very busy. Naturally, by limiting the feature to eight tracks per week, not everything made the cut. In fairness, not everything deserved to, but we heard a lot of stuff that was too good to not share.
This feature rounds up some of the greatest leftovers from the last few months. These shouldn’t be considered leftovers, though, as they’re far and away more important than any overspills, or reheated post-Christmas fare. Pretty much all of these singles would have featured in a previous Singles Bar, if only timing had allowed. With such a fast turnover, it became literally impossible to share everything we enjoyed at the time, so this – hopefully – will help to shine a light upon several more deserving tunes, and encourage people to backtrack and check out other tracks from some great and interesting artists.
Marc Valentine has been considered one of the best British talents to emerge from the power pop scene in recent years, and ‘The Jinx of Finchley Road’ makes it very clear why. It immediately sets up a McCartney-esque rumpty tumpty rhythm, shared through a massive Jellyfish inspired prism, and with a pinch of glam and a raft of harmony vocals, it immediately blossoms into a massively catchy track that sounds like it’s been a part of your record collection for decades. Along with Shannon Smith’s ‘Dance The Night Away’, it’s a strong contender for being one of 2023’s best singles.
A 90s sound looms largely throughout ‘Living With The Moon’, the title cut from Karamelien’s album of the same name. A groove laden drum part collides with a buoyant bass, creating a rigid backdrop, over which the indie pop duo lay a mix of shimmering dream pop guitar lines and soaring pop vocals. The end result sounds like a collaboration between Edie Brickell and The Sundays, and as such, there’s a broadly enjoyable track waiting to be discovered.
Although their press materials gave them the exciting tag of “psych punk”, there’s nothing punky about this single from Frankie and The Witch Fingers. Stretching to over seven minutes, this massive jam shifts from Sabbath-esque doom origins, moves through passages of retro hard rock, and eventually settles into a funk laden arrangement that sounds like the early Ocean Colour Scene covering Pigbag, with Fu Manchu’s Bob Balch on guitar. Thanks to some really tight rhythms and a great guitar sound, the band takes the guts of stoner rock and blues rock and creates something very exciting. Via an energetic vocal and a disregard for genre constraints, the track is great even before reaching a climax where a howling lead guitar weaves on top of a frenzied Latin rhythm – like a supercharged Santana. ‘Empire’ sounds familiar and exciting, but at the same time, it’s a mad hybrid track that probably shouldn’t have worked. Let’s hear it for boundless enthusiasm…
Fans of shoegaze sounds will find a strong musical connection with ‘Barbarella (Melt Away)’ by somei. The guitar heavy arrangement takes the dense feel of My Bloody Valentine and puts it through a slower stoner filter, making any other worldly feelings seem even darker. It takes a moment to tune into a familiar shoegaze tone when fused with couple of sludgier elements, but at the core of the mid tempo noise, there’s also a great vocal. The voice is key to making the track work; once the echoing notes cut through the wall of sound, the moody melodies start to drift past in a really cool way, always dark, but strangely alluring. It’s never easy listening, yet at the same time, it’s actually quite easy to be drawn in with each passing musical wave. In terms of genre crossovers, somei ups the ante here, proving that a marriage of heaviness and coldness need not have roots in black metal. One listen to this slightly obtuse single and the listener will likely find themselves cast back to a pre-‘Teen Spirit’ landscape, with re-awakened memories indie chart rundowns on the ITV Chart Show, complete with wobbling band photos in lieu of a suitable video clip!
‘The Difference’ by Buffalo Nichols evokes those old arrangements by Simon and Garfunkel with its appealing fingerpicked guitar work, but a husky vocal more than gives the track an identity of its own. On this number, Nichols shares a world weary tone that’s just perfect for a song that has a narrative exploring a worn out, one sided relationship, and the semi-negative lyric and uplifting melody provides a brilliant contrast throughout. With the guitar work evoking timeless folk rock and a voice supplying something a little more contemporary, this stripped back recording gives listeners a pleasingly uncluttered peek into a great performer’s work.
Due to it being a little laboured musically and dragging on for far too long, The Beatles’ ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ is arguably the weak link on ‘Abbey Road’. It’s general drudgery makes the arrival of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ – one of the record’s greatest songs – feel like a well deserved reward. Doom metal band Oaks have clearly recognised the oppressive nature of Lennon’s repetitive riff and shared a brilliantly heavy cover (retitled ‘So Heavy’) which turns the main guitar part into a true force of nature. In addition, this version is augmented by an impressive bassline which adds a sludgy, grumbling edge to an already very ominous feel. It won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s certainly testament as to how The Beatles’ catalogue features something that’ll influence almost all musicians at some point in time.
Beautifully arranged, Mike Gale’s ‘Summer Be Gone’ blends semi-busy acoustic melodies with shuffling percussive elements and swirling organs in a way that calls back to the 60s, but there’s also a haunting quality to the track that wouldn’t necessarily feel out of place on Mercury Rev’s classic ‘Deserter’s Songs’ LP. Fans of retro pop will likely take to Gale’s sound in an instant, but with its ghostly backing vocals and bell-like melodies, it’s actually a tune that sounds better over time. Eventually beginning to sound like a strange blend of Nilsson and Fleet Foxes, the single occasionally feels like something beamed in from another world.
Delving into a classic Americana sound, ‘How Long’ by Our Man In The Field mixes electric and acoustic elements with a seamless precision. The way the friendly pop melodies are augmented with a country tinged lapsteel and the performer’s wavering lead vocals are joined by smooth harmonies gives the track a pleasingly full feel, even before the banjo and choir make a belated appearance. It’s the kind of song that could’ve been recorded at any point during the past thirty years, and as such, it’s almost guaranteed to be received favourably by fans of the style.
Salvation Jayne’s self titled EP introduced a harder edge to the band’s sound, and ‘Thirst’ is a single that seems set to continue in that direction. A world away from their stodgy blues rock origins, this track flaunts a brilliant, sharp edged rhythm guitar used to drive a riff, provides a massive focus on a crashing drum sound and, eventually, drops into something even heavier. The music has so many edges, it could be in danger of overshadowing the vocal, but an on form Chess Smith fills the recording with an equally aggressive performance that shows off her full range, from melodic cries to rough edged screams. Aiming itself, without discrimination, at both a hard rock and alternative crowd, it’s the kind of single that’ll take the band forward with ease.
Goth rockers Trashcan Dance share an incredibly uptempo combo of drums and guitar on the verses on ‘L’il Dreamer’, and they also deliver a retro riff that desperately wants to drop into the Iron Maiden classic ‘Phantom of The Opera’. That’s certainly not a bad thing, and its 80s metal elements really help to balance a gruff vocal. Where this single really comes into its own, however, is on the chorus, when the full throttle metal gives way to a more melodic groove, and a raw lead vocal is complimented by a second, female voice that’s more of an emo persuasion. In and out in under two minutes, the track has an energy, but there’s also something about it that feels a little…unfinished. Nevertheless, the chorus is strong enough to pull everything together in a way that makes the Scandinavian goth metal band’s ragged style work.
On the recorded version of ‘All The Way Down’ (from his 2023 long player ‘Surrender’) singer songwriter Jann Klose shared a harmony driven pop number that fused really bright chorus melodies with quieter moments where occasional guitar harmonics were dropped between understated chords. Falling somewhere between great pop and mellow AOR, Klose’s musical stance shared a timeless heart, and for those who still love smooth singer songwriter sounds, the track had the potential to become an instant favourite. To promote the number as a video single, Jann stripped it down to its acoustic heart. Although this loses some of the warmth, the huge melodies and brilliant chorus remain very clear. This is the sound of Klose laid bare, with the singer songwriter knowing he’s in possession of a great tune. If you like this, ‘Surrender’ is an album worth exploring.
Belfast’s E.B. & The Deadlights channel the spookier aspects of a mid 90s Marilyn Manson and the riffs of Bullet For My Valentine on ‘Falling Away’, revisiting a classic alternative/goth tinged sound. It’s a single that makes it clear that the young band obviously know their way around a great heaviness, but also understand how important a strong melody can be. By switching between huge melodic passages and guttural roars, the vocals have as much scope as the musical arrangement, and overall, it results in a weighty three and a half minutes that manages to sound better than its obvious influences.
They’ve been called “quirky and post-modern”, but there’s something massively familiar about this single from The Bartells. It has a musical heart that sounds like a light indie rock twist on a Del Amitri tune, and the chorus has a harmony driven folky lilt that could be a distant cousin of The Waterboys in fully commercial mode. Whichever way you slice it, ‘Hands of Heal’ has an old soul that’s very welcome, and for new listeners, it introduces the band in such a way that their harmonies already feel like old friends.
As debuts go, ‘Bad Boy’ by Ugly Punch is anything but subtle. By opening with a grinding bass and howl of feedback, the band immediately grab the listeners’ attention, and from therein, the track grumbles its way through a gruelling five minutes where a punk ‘n’ roll ethic is distorted beyond belief and then fused with something that sounds like a hybrid of The Jesus Lizard and Girls Against Boys. It’s almost horrible, but there’s something about it that makes it strangely compelling. Talk about opening your recording career in the most obtuse way…
Dan Potter has been cranking out tunes independently for what feels like forever. Using his Dan Potter Sings alter-ego, ‘Firefly’ conjures a really unsettling melody with the help of a tango-ish rhythm, odd guitar tones and sneering vocal. Part indie pop, part gothic horror melody, its a strange little number that almost defies easy categorisation. In many ways, its distinctive melodies provide many of the hooks, but there are moments where a theatrical vocal seems in danger of stealing the show. It isn’t until the end, with Dan sharing a brief, bluesy lead guitar, that the track dares to settle into anything predictable, but by opting not to play for easy thrills, it’s the sort of track that’ll have more longevity. Proof enough of that comes from the fact that the audio first appeared in 2021, but the single had a second lease of life in ’23 when Dan coupled it with a brilliant horror themed video that really accentuated the music’s uneasy core.
2023 was a busy year for Lucky Thief. The multi-instrumentalist picked up a raft of new fans via a run of digital singles – including the semi-grungy ‘Landlubber’ – and also released a full length LP. ‘Spit On The Pavement’ (originally released in August ’23) is one of the best Thief tracks, since it combines crunch and melody in a very direct way. Right from its punchy opening where live sounding drums collide with a buzzing guitar, it’s almost impossible not to draw comparisons with Queens of The Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures, but a slightly lighter vocal ensures the track has enough of its own character. With the help of a big hook, a bigger riff and a blues drenched lead guitar break, it becomes a fuzzy garage rock number that shouldn’t be missed.
In August ’23, Burr Island released ‘English Roses’, a pastoral single that called out the negativity of small town attitudes and juxtaposed their inward looking vibe with a wonderfully expansive folk melody. On their follow up, ‘Towers’ reintroduces more socially conscious lyrics, this time questioning why monies are ploughed into huge town projects whilst some of its inhabitants cannot afford to eat, and as before, manages to make a really angry message feel rather lovely. Armed with a finger picked guitar motif, the music unwinds slowly, allowing the listener to concentrate on well arranged harmonies, but with a burst of something more energy driven towards the end, it feels fully formed and much bigger than the stripped down arrangement suggests.
‘In Circles’ by The Cards I Play is the ultimate in crossover sounds. Within this single’s three minutes, you’ll find light synthwave elements, a huge emo chorus tempered by massive vocal effects, a huge alternate rock riff, rap elements set against massive beats and – eventually – an enormous hardcore breakdown. You’d think, with such a kitchen sink arrangement, that it might feel cluttered. However, due to some great musicianship and a decent hook, it all flows brilliantly. If you’ve missed the band previously, this is very much the kind of track to make you sit up and listen.
Featuring members of Roadsaw and Black Pyramid, Kind are a stoner rock band that could claim the tag of supergroup. ‘Power Grab’ – issued as a digital single back in September 2023 – is a track that shares the band’s talents in the most direct fashion. Yes, it has the heaviness, the buzzing tone and the huge sound you’ve come to love from their chosen genre, but this single also has a welcome speed. Rather than just drop into some Sabbathy tropes, the band have opted to explore a punchier approach, much closer to Fu Manchu, which really serves an enthusiastic vocal, fuzz laden lead guitar break and really big drum sound. In and out in under three minutes, this proves that stoner rock can really have a great impact, and even though Kind don’t bring anything new to the table here, their sheer energy is impressive.
Last up, here’s something really intense. Miruthan aren’t just a band, but “rumoured to be survivors of a dark and hostile future, plagued with menace and threats”. The cloaked members bring you a devastating noise via ‘Land of The Damned’, which goes beyond the usual death and black metal tropes to share something more epic, when layers of cold, gothic sound underscore the insane pneumatics. Despite the track being loaded with a typically impenetrable vocal, there’s an arrangement here that’s impressive, occasionally feeling like Strapping Young Lad at their most obtuse, channelling an old Emperor cut. Naturally, it’ll connect with a very specific audience and pretty much no-one else, but in genre terms, this gloriously uncommercial single is incredibly tight.