Welcome back to the Real Gone Singles Bar, the place where we explore some of the individual mp3s that have landed in our inbox over the past few weeks. We’ve got a great selection for you as we move further into 2024: there’s a glam infused pop-rocker, some solid sounding country rock, melancholy folk, some absolutely huge indie rock, and more besides. As always, if you discover anything new you’ve enjoyed, stop by and tell us! We’d love to hear from you…and if you’ve got something you think might suit a future feature, please get in touch.
The marriage of glam infused guitar tones and congas gives James Clarke Five’s ‘Gadfly Groove’ an immediate injection of T.Rex inspired coolness, and that’ll be enough for some people to gravitate towards this superb single. It’s not a direct rip-off of classic Bolan, however; a layer of harmony vocals gives the track more of a 90s feel, and an unexpected jazzy sax occasionally takes the track off in a very different direction. It’s one of those recordings that absolutely bristles with energy, and its sharp production and simple hook really help to give a decent arrangement the best possible send off. By the time each of its main elements come together for a heavily layered climax, there’s a feeling of being in the presence of a modern classic – even if its inspirations are less than contemporary.
Christian Smith’s ‘Aurora’ is one of those tracks that seems familiar from the off. Its mid tempo riff and warm bass during the opening verse carry more than a hint of 90s Springsteen – but with a smoother vocal – and that’s more than enough to give it a feeling of greatness. As the melody builds and the guitars ramp up, Smith takes the singer songwriter sound a little further towards the blue collar sounds of Brian Fallon and The Gaslight Anthem – an influence that becomes very clear by the time the instrumental break comes around – but he’s clearly a man who’s able to use his influences and inspirations in a way that still sounds fresh. Between a strong melody and a great vocal sharing more of a British slant on an American sound, this is the kind of single that deserves to take Smith onward to even greater success.
At the end of 2023, singer songwriter Amigo The Devil shared ‘The Cannibal Within’, a banjo driven tune that explored the darker side of bluegrass, country and folk, creating a strange and somewhat sinister listen. This follow up single retains the dark vibes, but explores a very different tone. Adopting a slower tempo and an all round gentler feel, ‘The Mechanic’ is a finely crafted folk number. Amigo’s soft, finger picked guitar work lays a foundation for a mournful vocal, but despite the laid back music, a lyric exploring a break up never holds back. Against the mellow melodies, phrases like “like a house that’s on fire, you throw in the memories” and “we used to be happy” go straight for the heart. With a timeless feel, this is one single that proves that Amigo The Devil is up there with Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash when it comes to contrasting a stark message with a strange beauty.
On the follow up to 2023’s stripped down ‘Controlled Burn’, US indie band Graduation Speech opt for something much warmer on their first offering from 2024. ‘No Confidence’ begins gently with a melodic blend of guitar and voice, but quickly grows into a pleasingly melodic rocker where soaring lead guitars provide a massive musical hook and the late arrival of strong harmonies bring forth an even bigger appeal. With an emo-centric vocal and occasional dirty guitar leaning further towards a retro alternative sound, this is a single that manages to cover a lot of ground in under three minutes. Its chorus mightn’t be the most immediate, but a few plays will uncover something very user friendly.
Released at the end of 2023 but gaining some well deserved promotion during the first quarter of ’24, Minna Ora’s ‘Storm’ is a great pop-rock tune driven by a very confident vocal. Opening with the artist’s grandmother delivering a spoken word passage in Finnish against a steady drum beat, it’s a track that immediately stands out. Moving into the body of the number, there’s a strange goth pop/Mantaray era Siouxsie mood that gradually unravels, but with the help of a strong, droning bass and semi-breathy vocal, Ora takes the familiar elements and makes them very much her own. Shifting into a slightly rockier chorus, a huge melody swells to further sell an already great track, but with a bigger focus on harmonies and a retro feel for an even beefier sounding middle eight, there’s definitely more going on than first listens would suggest.
New signings to the Welsh Yr Wydffa label, Sister Envy carry more than a hint of those 60s influenced Britpop bands of the 90s – something most obvious on the vaguely Gallagher-esque lead vocal that sits at the heart of their debut single ‘Mourning Sickness’. These first musical steps suggest something far greater, however, since half of the track centres around a stripped down electric guitar – obviously playing for atmosphere over bombast – and the louder parts of the number hint at more of a hazy, psychedelic feel that’s a possible overspill from Super Furry Animals. This is very natural sounding, retro indie-rock that never aims to work its magic immediately, but very much suggests the world will hear more interesting music from this still new band in the future.
Fronted by Eileen Hodgkins of Perch Creek, Eils & The Drip shares some big country rock from the suburbs of Melbourne. From the moment ‘Easy Rider’s harmony vocals fill the intro, its clear that this it’s with an old soul, but the warmth the band convey throughout ensures that the familiar style has a massive heart. There are moments where the melody occasionally sounds like a countryfied Edie Brickell; other times, it could’ve been inspired by Victoria Williams in an uncharacteristically tuneful mood, but which ever way you approach it, the blend of ringing guitars, subtle steels and huge chorus hook creates a classic sound. It certainly promises great things ahead from Eils and the band, and for fans of the style, a possible instant love.
For his third single outing ‘Valentine’s Day’, singer songwriter Shannon Smith is in a melancholy mood. The track’s subject matter involves being in a committed relationship once more, but has none of the jubilant air of his earlier ‘Dance The Night Away’. Instead, he sings earnestly of sharing his thoughts and feelings, aided by a very slow waltzing melody. The tones are massively soulful, and a superb backing vocal arrangement adds a touch of gospel, lending an almost timeless feel. With the main tune augmented brilliantly by a crying steel guitar for just a touch of old school country heartbreak, the mellow vibes have a very rich quality, but it’s Smith’s voice, presented out front and centre, that remains the song’s true star. The way he stretches an unassuming melody so naturally really makes the track. Even without an immediate hook, this track further suggests the Australian performer has a great, natural talent.