Welcome back to the Real Gone Singles Bar, the place where we take a look at some of the individual mp3s that have landed in our inbox over the previous few weeks. Despite January traditionally being a quiet time, we’ve gathered a few great tunes this time around, capturing some of the typical SB variety, ranging from huge rock riffs, to a goth laden throwback, and even a tune with its heart firmly in a Laurel Canyon past… As always, we hope you’ll find something new to enjoy.
Kane & James, a pop duo from New Jersey, aren’t afraid of being massively unfashionable. Their current single ‘Smile’ takes the hazy, happy qualities of the 1970 Laurel Canyon sound with its strummed guitars and harmony vocals worthy of Loggins & Messina, adds an equally retro organ sound that pays tribute to Rick Wright’s distinctive Farfisa work from the late 60s, and tops it all off with a shiny, shimmering almost psychedelic feel. The extra layer of guitars presents a slight dream pop quality which further helps the single to sound like a half remembered daydream and in some ways makes the track, but there’s plenty of appeal in the way the featured performers harmonise, too, making for a pleasant and very familiar listen.
A retro track of a different kind, the deep goth tones cutting through pMad’s brilliant, minimalist ‘Opinion’ are a musical love letter to early Bauhaus and their ilk. Right from the opening bass notes and mechanised beat, the 80s goth sounds are almost perfect, and as the track builds via a Simon Gallup-esque melody and slightly flat vocal, it becomes even more like a deep cut that’s been found during a dig through the 80s goth archives. Never letting go of its initial groove, the track’s darkly hypnotic rhythm is great, and the dour vocals are as much of a treat, stylistically speaking. In terms of 80s goth homage, it’s pitch perfect; pMad obviously has a huge love for the genre, and if you’ve ever been a fan yourself, this track is set to be an instant favourite.
Repetition is the key to Polevaulter’s angry and frenetic ‘Violently Ill’. Springing from a blanket of distortion, the dance-punk duo set up a world of distorted loops and backmasked sounds, over which they throw out sharp vocal phrasing, where a shouted lead and sampled backing vocals latch onto an incessant hook. With the addition of semi-industrial bleeps and a wall of very different looped voices, it quickly becomes a hugely danceable noise, never a million miles away from an imagined Meat Beat Manifesto or PWEI remix of an Idles track. If it doesn’t catch you immediately, the track’s pure relentlessness will certainly hit you before the three minutes are up…
During the second half of 2023, fuzz rock duo Soaper released their debut single ‘Inside Out’. Its combination of crashy drums and distorted guitars drew from the same pool of influences as the brilliant Yur Mum, proving that in a minimalist set up, a huge sound could still be achieved. With a similar musical stance but an injection of speed, their second single ‘Say Anything’ is even better. Setting an immediate groove in place, the duo aren’t shy of a massive riff, but this track’s best moments are delivered via a sharp and simple hook where harmony vocals lend a brief sweetness to the gruff outlook. Also of note is the sheer heaviness coming through the faster riff that eventually appears midway. It’s still early days for this band, but this track is a perfect distillation of Soaper’s grunge/punk hybrid noise.
When it comes to big riffs, ‘Bounce’ by Yesterday’s Hero doesn’t sell the listener short. Its main thrust sounds like a stoner rock band channelling an old Fugazi tune; the muted riff on the verse adds a sharp edge beneath a great vocal, and exploding into a huge chorus, the band are able to convey a timeless post-grunge sound that sounds massive beneath an enthusiastic hook. If that wasn’t enough, a slow heavy breakdown drawing from a blend of groove metal and hardcore influences increases the tension at the track’s end, ensuring these four minutes leave most rock fans more than satisfied.
An atmospheric track, E.D.’s debut single ‘Divin’ presents an intriguing mix of styles. You’ll find lo-fi guitar sounds setting up a musical base, spoken vocals eventually building to a laid back French rap dealing with religious themes, echoing voices presented in a choral style – presumably to reflect the lyric – and occasional nods to dream pop within the disquieting guitar sounds as the melody moves forward. With everything held together via a slow burning rhythm drawn directly from downtempo electronica, this track doesn’t care for immediacy, but there’s something very alluring about the arrangement’s crossover approach. It won’t be for everyone, but there’s certainly something interesting here…
An aptly named tune, ‘Choppy’ by Circolo Vizioso is a very unlikely single choice. It mixes elements of drone rock with the repetitive nature of Krautrock, focusing on a mid-tempo chopping guitar sound almost throughout. It’s unwavering stance is only broken by occasional shifts into speed driven passages where sharp violin stings pierce through even more aggressive riffs with a punky edge. It’s almost minimalist in its own way, and is certainly on the pleasingly ugly side. Used as the lead track for an upcoming album, it suggests the band aren’t big on compromise, and this tune won’t appeal to a mass audience, but those who like it will undoubtedly love it.
There are times when rap metal feels like a hackneyed throwback to the 1990s, but occasionally, something will creep through as a reminder that the crossover style can still have plenty of power in the right hands. Kicking off 2024, Dymytry take elements of an older rap metal stance and combine it with an even bigger sound on ‘Five Angry Men’. Taking in elements of post-hardcore and djent, the end result sounds absolutely fierce and devastatingly dense, but that never stops a big hook and a pleasing variety of other sounds creeping through. With occasional darkwave synths bolstering everything, this single has a little of everything needed to make it a massively heavy treat.
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