Welcome back to the Real Gone Singles Bar, the place where we explore some of the individual tracks that have landed in our inbox over the past few weeks. Despite January being a quiet time, there’s been very little sign of anything slowing down here. This time around, we bring you electronica based sounds, the return of some industrial heroes, some brilliant and slightly kitschy alt-pop, a couple of massive rockers…and more. Hopefully, that means there’s something here for everyone…and if you find something new to enjoy, as always, please drop by and tell us!
A new single from Swimming Bell is always very welcome and ‘For Al and Lee’ is no exception, even if it isn’t quite as immediate as previous works. The expected blend of country-ish melodies and hazy Laurel Canyon pop present themselves eventually, and the harmonies on the track are utterly flawless, but everything here feels a little more low-key than usual. The chorus is a little more laid back, and the melodies are all prefaced by a strange, almost jazzy intro that sounds as if Swimming Bell might be about to launch into something akin to one of the more difficult tracks from Tim Buckley’s ‘Starsailor’. This number’s unexpected moments suggest a compositional gift from a musician not keen to get stuck in a rut. For the fans, of course, it’ll soon be the kind of tune that shows why Swimming Bell’s work is among “alternative pop”s most enduring.
The previous singles from Karamalien have shared some enjoyable indie pop melodies, but ‘Do You Really Wanna Go’ takes things a step further in terms of immediacy. This buoyant and catchy slice of pop could have been spawned at any point since the late 90s, and that gives the duo a wonderfully timeless quality here. The number flaunts a really great bassline where elements of jazz funk colour the pop sounds, whilst the vocals owe far more to the wonderfully twee retro pop of Saint Etienne. The fusion of the two styles leads to something that rises beyond mere kitsch. The whole arrangement has charm, it’s impossible not to fall in love with Leanie Kaleido’s knowingly fey vocal; she latches onto the repetitive hook with a genuine glee that really makes a simple idea shine.
German indietronic band Bromsen wear a love for the 80s on their collective sleeve. Never was this more obvious than on ‘Someone’, a superb single loaded with bright synths, pulsing bass and broad pop melodies. Its verses reawaken memories of early Depeche Mode hits; the German vocal might even remind a few listeners of Alphaville…and then, just as you think you know where the number is headed, Bromsen switch gears and take everything off in a slightly rockier direction, introducing guitar parts that are more suited to old melodic AOR tunes. It comes full circle during the last verse when the 80s synth pop is given a send off with the addition of a layer of guitars, which tidies up the musical strands brilliantly. Overall, ‘Someone’ represents a career highlight and is a very enjoyable listen.
‘Skin Vs. Chrome’ is the first Seek Harbour recording to feature vocalist Aimee Allin, and her vocal really adds something special to the British rock band’s sound. You’ll find a familiar feel within the arrangement’s crunch, and the way a muted guitar has been used to lift the heavier edge throughout gives the music a great sense of style, but its definitely the way Allin’s clean vocals absolutely sell a soaring melody on a huge chorus that makes this track special. That said, it’s got everything needed to make it a success in contemporary rock terms: a welcome heaviness balanced with an accessible melody, allusions to a few more complex musical breakdowns – akin to a more melodic Marmozets – and a modern rock twist that compliments the occasional hints of classic emo. It’s certainly a track where the whole feels greater than the sum of the parts, but it definitely promises more greatness from the young band going forward.
With melodies that sound as if they’ve been sourced from a broken piano, a selection of hard beats, a semi-rapped vocal and a lot of electronic effects, there’s a lot to unpack from the musical layers that make up K.Flay’s ‘Carsick’. Its crossover sound owes as much to deep electronica as great pop, but it has a huge confidence running through the centre, and one of those swelling choruses that’s huge enough to pull all of the disparate elements together in the most natural way. A couple of listens in, and this actually shows all the makings of a contemporary hit, despite a semi-confrontational quality and little warmth.
They’re now 40 years into a career, but German industrialists KMFDM are still trucking. Their new single ‘Let Go’ fuses their typical punch with a huge melody, mixing rock with an unashamed disco overtone. The 70s synths and electronic drum sounds during the intro are massively retro, but as the track finds its feet, a crunchy guitar and punchy rhythm hold up against the very best of the band’s sounds over the past decade, and that’s before unveiling a huge and simple hook. The infectious heart of a great single beats throughout, and whether you’re attracted to the big beat, fuzzy rock guitars, or the hint of funk during the instrumental break that gives an unexpected nod to Electric Six via its very distinctive rhythm guitar part, enjoyment is guaranteed. [NSFW lyrical content.]
Massive influences from The Doors and Love cut through the minimalist intro of The Lunar Effect’s ‘Pulling Daisies’. The spacious arrangement shares rather spooky interplay between the muted guitar and downbeat vocal, which sets up an immediately great sound that could possibly be labelled doom-psych. At the mid point, there’s a massive treat for rock fans when the band unleashes a massive riff drenched in a very 70s heaviness, which is cranked slowly to create an ominous blues-metal sound, over which an equally massive vocal takes on an impressive presence. Falling somewhere between the more melodic aspects of Orchid and the bluesier end of Kadavar, this track certainly gives fans a lot to enjoy.
Sharing a very retro mood, the more mellow elements of ‘Come On, Come In’ by UK rock band Silveroller owes a massive debt to those early Black Crowes ballads and the more sedate tracks from the Faces back catalogue, but there’s something much richer at stake. This single has that very familiar heart, sure, but on the quiet verses, the featured vocal is much stronger, and even by the time Silveroller inevitably decide to rock things up, the musicianship is second to none. The featured solo has a huge amount of fire; the heavy rhythm has a natural power, and the louder vocal sounds ready to challenge some of rock’s major talents. There’s a lot of talk about a “new wave of classic rock” (an oxymoron if ever there were), but if we accept there is such a thing, these guys deserve be one of that journalistic-made scene’s genuine success stories.