Welcome back to the Real Gone Singles Bar! For our first SB feature of ’24, we’ve dug deeply into our inbox of mp3s and assorted goodies to bring you another round of quick fire entertainment in our usual style. You’ll find the usual variety, with a dose of melodic punk, some alt country, huge rock and even some progressive black metal to tempt you. With January traditionally being a little quieter for submissions, we’ve taken the opportunity to include a couple of older tunes here that didn’t get covered during the last weeks of 2023, but that doesn’t mean a dip in quality. After all, you can’t put a sell by date on great music! As always, if you feel you have something of interest that you feel would suit a future Singles Bar – or a full review – at Real Gone, please don’t hesitate to get in touch…
Suzi Moon’s ‘99 Miles To Pasadena’ is a brilliantly catchy punk track that captures a speed and energy that feels both retro and contemporary. Armed with a world of buzzsaw riffs and a carefree vocal, the track takes the grit of later period Distillers and combines that with the energies of early X for that perfect feelgood hit. Throw in a simple, repetitive hook and its a quick recipe for success. What’s more, it’s the kind of single that can be played on repeat without losing any of its impact, proving that great punk – even if played to a familiar formula – is far from dead.
Spanish band The Distance aren’t afraid to bend genres on the arty ‘Flowers’. A bold choice for a single, the track combines jazz drums with semi-atonal guitar work, creating a backdrop that falls somewhere between post-hardcore and arty prog metal, before literally exploding on a chorus where screamo and hardcore influences continue to be coloured by some particularly smart guitar work and a busy bassline. Obviously, they aren’t aiming for a radio hit here, but there isn’t a second of this track that feels phoned in, wasted, or even needlessly strange. In terms of post-hardcore sounds, this is as tight as hell…and absolutely superb.
Featuring just voice and guitar for the bulk of the recording, ‘Friends For When’ by alt-country artist S/J might be stripped back, but it’s not in any way laid back. From the outset, a massive folk-punk riff attacks the listener in the best possible way, and the combo of sharp chords and gruff vocals makes no secret of a love for the noisier Jay Farrar material from the Uncle Tupelo catalogue. In under three minutes, S/J serves the perfect blend of angst and lyrical concerns, and by bringing in the rhythm section at the eleventh hour, the track unveils a great punch – almost like a punky take on a bluegrass sound – just at the point where you think it has nowhere else to go. Simple, direct and almost timeless, this is a great track for new listeners and old fans alike.
Mario Lalli & The Rubber Snake Charmers will be a new band to most as we head into ’24, but the members already have a legacy within the desert rock community. Mario is a member of Fatso Jetson and an ex-member of Yawning Man; Ryan Gut has played with Stoner, and drummer Brant Bjork has played with just about everyone, but remains best known for his associations with Kyuss. Teaming up with desert poet Sean Wheeler, on their debut single ‘Other Desert Cities’, the supergroup sounds exactly how you’d expect. The rhythm section weaves a slow, hypnotic groove, with high toned lead bass taking the bulk of the melody; the wavering tempo very much latches onto the kind of lax feel you’ll often find at the heart of many a Fatso Jetson recording, and Wheeler uses the vast but empathetic soundscape to his advantage, as he casts out various spoken word passages, lifting a very retro, almost Yawning Balch meets The Doors vibe. With an album due later in the year, it’ll be interesting to hear what else this musical collective has up their sleeve.
Not to be confused with the Australian band of the same name, Swedish band The Manikins formed in the late 90s. ‘Rosita’, taken from their sixth album ‘Swedish Woods’ is a great example of their raucous style. By opening with a very 60s riff, it breaks the listener in fairly gently, but the distorted layers quickly rise up to create a huge sound. The main riff combines a garage rock roughness with a proto-glam swagger, suggesting a massive love for prime New York Dolls, and there’s plenty within the raw vocals that cements that. The style may be familiar and the sound a little more commercial than the band’s earlier work, but the energy is still impressive, and armed with one of the genre’s biggest chorus hooks, it’s definitely a track that’ll connect with garage rock fans everywhere.
If you were to make a quick assumption about this single by Seattle’s Dust Mice based on its intro, you might think it was heading for Flaming Lips territory, but ‘Archemedes Death Ray’ has far more to offer. Yes, there are hints of psychedelic indie at the outset, but as the track builds, it moves through moods of adult pop driven by unexpected sax, melodic rock with psych undertones, and even a noisy breakdown that’s a little closer to experimental space rock. It’s held together with a slightly flat vocal and a DIY budget, but its the sort of number that unveils a great melody after a few plays.
Towards the end of 2023, Frenchy & The Punk shared an absolutely spot on cover of Siouxsie & The Banshees’ ‘Cities In Dust’. The near perfect homage should have encouraged people to check out their impressive back-catalogue, but here’s another gem. Taken from their most recent album ‘Zen Ghost’, ‘Gear Geist’ is a brilliant showcase for Scott Helland’s guitar work, as he shares a variety of great sounds throughout, ranging from hard edged semi-acoustic strums, neo-folky leads and even a few eastern flourishes that make his playing sound more like a rough-hewn folk punk version of the California Guitar Trio. Releasing a largely instrumental track as a single is a brave move, but there’s enough musical interest here to make the number work as a stand alone piece, and when Samantha Stephenson steps out of the shadows with the occasional banshee wail – again, with a tone hugely indebted to Siouxsie – it actually represents some of the best atmospheric sounds found within the duo’s catalogue to date.
Last up, here’s some massive sounding metal from The Incantus. Their debut single ‘Goddess Ablaze’ is a melting pot of riffs ranging from melodic doom to thrash, with elements of black metal – most notably through an abrasive lead vocal, but also coming through a few cold, jarring riffs – and even a nod or two to something more traditional via the lead guitar. Stretching the ever changing sounds across five minutes, it’s never an easy listen, but from a technical perspective, it’s hard to find fault. Especially impressive is the featured guitar solo, where the pneumatics give way to something more melodic, and the melodies draw more from a more Scandinavian palate with influences from Soilwork within the lead work. For extreme metal fans everywhere, this promises good things ahead. Hopefully The Incantus will deliver equally brutal works in the future.