Welcome back to the Real Gone Singles Bar, the place where we explore the various individual mp3s that have landed in our inbox over the previous few weeks. This time out, we’ve got a goth tinged number from a band making their debut; a really busy workout from a Northern Irish alt-rock act, and another debut from a very retro sounding, much noisier band. For those less enamoured by rock, this week’s SB also includes a couple of top notch singer songwriters who we really hope will become favourites over time. Dive in…and enjoy!


With a perfect blend of pop, rock and soul, ‘Failure’ by Jack Francis has a superb sound. The way the singer songwriter’s voice soars above a very 70s groove gives the single an unashamedly old heart, but its warm production is on hand to remind listeners that, here, the performer is ploughing a very contemporary furrow. The music centres around a clean rhythm guitar and huge vocal, but if anything stands out in the long term, its the dancing bass which gives the melody a great lift, and the electric piano which – not unlike tracks from The Delines’ ‘Sea Drift’ album – adds a fantastically soulful sound. Despite an older sounding core, this has the makings of a timeless adult pop-rock tune. It’s certainly up there with Shannon Smith’s best efforts when it comes to having an instant appeal.

Blending a jangly indie guitar with a crooned vocal that owes almost everything to Bauhaus man Peter Murphy and Iggy Pop in one of his uncharacteristically mellow moods, ‘Your Heart Is An Empty Street’ by Dark Miles feels very familiar. That’s not to say it’s tired sounding; there’s plenty about the track that bristles with life, and that vocal, in particular, has enough power alone to draw in the audience. It’s the kind of number that also sounds better over time. The strident guitar part could’ve been spawned at any point over the previous three decades, and a weird Bowie-esque instrumental break also shows amazing musical taste and a willingness to add something quirky to a track that could’ve been predictable. For a debut release, this band have gone in at the top of their game and given the world something almost timeless.

Rob Fillo’s ‘Insane’ immediately advertises itself as a pop-rock single with a lot of depth due to its marriage of huge vocal and solid guitar work. As with Rob’s prior works, his rich vocal tones are often the big draw here, and his full bodied approach to singing lends a great appeal, but the music itself doesn’t ever slouch. Everything is driven by a really fat bass tone and the rhythm – remaining on the good side of busy – really drives a strong melody. What’s perhaps most impressive of all is the fact that this, stylistically speaking, is half a world away from Fillo’s country tinged ‘This Old Train’ (released in the summer of ’23), suggesting he can turn his hand to anything.

With a heavy, pulsing electronic heart and heavily filtered vocal, ‘Delicate’ by Eloise Viola goes deeply into a contemporary pop sound. There’s a hint of Jess Glynne, but also waves of something more soulful coming through the cracks, which really suits the performer. By the time the broadly melodic chorus hits. Eloise seems absolutely in command of what might have felt like an unnatural sound, and by the track’s mid point, the broad mix of pop, soul and dance has exploded into something that becomes surprisingly catchy. A couple of very 80s keys give more of a feel good vibe en route, and overall, the arrangement is really uplifting for a number with such a pointed, emotional lyric.

Jerseybird make their debut with the riff heavy ‘My God, My Son’ – a single that will definitely impress lovers of 90s sounds. In the ultimate throwback, the track opens with a clean guitar that takes influence from dream pop and shoegaze before exploding into a grungy noise that makes the very best of an intense sound. There are vague hints of forgotten bands like Catherine, as well as huge swathes of noise that draw heavily from more obvious sources like Sunny Day Real Estate and Bivouac. With a juxtaposition between distorted riffs and clean vocals, as well as a nod to more contemporary post-rock tones, this is a track that has a massive amount of potential.

With an orchestral intro that builds very gradually, Nick Hudson’s ‘Khevsureti’ is in no hurry to go anywhere, but there’s plenty about its slow, cinematic approach that sells the singer songwriter’s obvious talent. The eventual arrival of the lead vocal doesn’t actually facilitate the rock-pop tones as expected, but merely allows the strings to swell further, and Nick booms confidently. There’s something about the track that recalls Scott Walker, but also a few of John Cale’s braver experiments. Hudson certainly isn’t concerned with chasing a chart hit here; this is about making his fans sit up and take notice, and about giving them something in which they can wallow. It’s certainly a very bold choice of track to share ahead of a proposed long player.

Towards the end of 2023, Von Loop released ‘Yo Yo’, a busy number working some great alternative rock riffs. ‘Rocket Fly’ continues their run of great tracks with a single that’s absolutely loaded with choppy guitars and crashing drums. With vaguely grungy tones in places, the Northern Irish band give an indie rock groove a massive kick up the arse, and with the aid of a really tight rhythm, the track becomes the kind of workout that fans of 90s tinged sounds will take to in a heartbeat. Gradually working itself into an absolute frenzy where a pounding rhythm attacks against a natural vocal, it seems as if this track has little room for breathing space, but a brief sojourn into something that sounds a little more shoegaze influenced allows a deeper look into a very layered arrangement, before a last round of the brilliant shout-along chorus explodes into life. The core of the arrangement may feel familiar, but it’s a track that sounds great when played very loudly.

The hard rhythm guitar at the heart of ‘The Emperor’s Song’ by Happy Little Clouds immediately evokes the bubblegum influenced end of 90s alt-rock, with tunes like Veruca Salt’s ‘Seether’ springing immediately to mind, but this Boston based band add their own sprinkling of pop on a great single. It’s 90s core is counterbalanced by a wall of 80s synths which, thanks to a great production sound, punch through the song’s noisier elements with ease, and the accessible tones of the lead vocal owe more to an alternative pop/singer songwriter vibe, creating a brilliant melting pot of sound. With the aid of several oohs building an absolutely indelible hook throughout, this is certainly the kind of single that a broad audience will enjoy.

March 2024