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. It’s a strong selection this time, with a brilliant soul influenced tune, a great track that melds an almost indie sound with an undercurrent of electronica, some massive rock riffs, and the return of a Real Gone favourite, Bad Mary. As always, we hope you find something new to enjoy. If so, why not drop by and tell us? It’s always a pleasure to hear from our readers!


‘Can’t Handle Me’ by Casii Stephan is a track that shares a timeless quality. From the moment its opening bars cut through with a rising horn riff, there’s a strong sense of a track that’ll bristle with life, but when the main melody hits – sounding like something culled from the Aretha Franklin catalogue crossed with bits of classic Stax and Mahalia Barnes – it literally hits the listener in the jaw. With its huge soul groove, it automatically feels good, and the upbeat brass-led melody is a perfect vehicle for a lyric concerning people who won’t take no for an answer. There’s no flab here; the melody keeps an incredibly tight three minutes feeling buoyant, and Casii’s vocal cuts through the busy arrangement with just as much sass. A single not to be missed.

As part of the ongoing promotion for his excellent album ‘24th Street Blues’, singer songwriter Tom Heyman has shared ‘Sonny Jim’ as a digital single with accompanying video. For the uninitiated, the track provides a superb entry point into the album itself. Opening with quiet, almost bluesy notes, Heyman’s voice and guitar conveys a timeless fragility, which is more than enough to draw in the ear. The body of the song is just as fine; atop heavier strums, Tom’s voice calls with a world weary edge as he explores a narrative where the central character is well loved but his self-seeking need for “more, more, more” is eventually his undoing. Figuring “there’s always one more bridge to burn” in his journey through life, he actually ends up alone in a single room bedsit, lonely. Despite the lyric being somewhat downbeat, there’s plenty to uplift in the music itself: the simple guitar riff is pleasingly repetitive, and the addition of a natural bass sound and sparse piano lend a classic singer songwriter feel. There’s less of an Americana twang, but this track – and a few others from the LP itself – should appeal to fans of John Hiatt and other rootsy songwriters,

Following a drone intro, a downtempo rhythm meets a rich vocal, setting up the base for Emmi Iida’s semi-reflective track ‘Energy Guru’. The melody is unhurried, but the performer’s voice wastes no time in sharing a tone and style that feels, perhaps, far too soulful for a downbeat electronica arrangement. There’s a crossover quality to the short track that actually feels very appealing, and by the time the melody subsides to allow Iida to deliver a spoken word interlude, it’s clear that, despite being quite sedate, there’s something far more sophisticated at the heart of these two and a half minutes than first impressions would ever have suggested.

Over the years, Swedish rockers Thundermother have become a very reliable source for old school riffs. Their more recent albums ‘Heat Wave’ and ‘Black & Gold’ have become best sellers in their home country, and on the basis of ‘Speaking of The Devil’, their next LP sounds like it will follow suit. Casting aside some of their more obvious AC/DC obsessions, the track takes a slightly more melodic route, mixing Cult-ish riffs with the hard edged melodic rock of Vixen and Hardline. The slightly more AOR-centric sound really comes to life on the number’s big, melodic hook, but also via couple of the track’s guitar riffs, which share more of a layered feel. With the presence of a slightly gruffer vocal on the verse, older fans will still feel they are getting a classic Thundermother experience, but this is definitely a single that a broader spectrum of hard rock and melodic metal fans will enjoy.

The general mood Sohodolls convey on this single might remind a few listeners of tracks like Goldfrapp’s classic ‘Ooh La La’, or even a couple of album cuts from the brilliant Metric, but this single is actually catchier than both of those combined. With a glam influenced stomp meeting with a bright pop vocal, ‘What Kinda Love’ has a great crossover sound, and the addition of a few garage rock guitars and an occasional nod to bubblegum pop on an infectious chorus also gives this recording more of its own identity. Between the relatively simple riff and breezy pop vocal, there’s already a great deal here to love, but the injection of a few cheeky “woo”s throughout ensures this is one track that’ll stick in your noggin forever. This screams “hit” from the very first spin.

Over the years, Bad Mary have been a reliable source for melodic punk, pop punk and alternative rock tunes. Their crossover sound, although sometimes a little rough around the edges, is never shy of sharing a great energy, and ‘Forget About It’ is no exception. Led by punchy drums and a choppy guitar, the music straddles a fine line between pop punk and punk ‘n’ roll, but really suits Amanda Mac’s voice, which she uses to deliver a sharp, almost spoken performance throughout. The arrangement is a relatively simple one, but in terms of all round catchiness, it’s a track that knows it’ll hit listeners between the ears with minimum effort. It’s actually a re-recording of a much earlier Bad Mary tune that has been circulating for the best part of a decade. Although it retains a naivety, it’s interesting to hear how much sharper the band have become as musicians. Fans will certainly welcome this reworking with open ears.

The title track from “an alien rock opera”, ‘They Came To Rock’ by The Amplifier Heads comes with a brilliant arrangement. Driven by a kitschy 50s riff, it’s hard not to hear the influence of Ed Haas and his Munsters theme running through the centre of the track, but with the help of a glam rock stomp and really cheeky saxophone taking the reigns, this becomes far more complex. With some great music joined by a mix of crooned and screamed rock vocals, the number certainly doesn’t think small – or, indeed, take itself too seriously – but, in a lot of ways, it wins purely on arrangement alone. The antidote to a world of earnest prog and adult pop, this definitely isn’t afraid of putting the focus firmly on fun.

Last up, UK metal band Bang Bang Firecracker have returned with a very solid sounding track. Building on previous work, ‘Hail Waco’ works a massive riff throughout, creating a sound that a times hints at ‘Cowboys’ era Pantera (without any dubious behaviour implied), crosses that with the more melodic elements of Machine Head and adds a clear vocal that gives the performance more of its own identity. Lyrically, things don’t always work out for the best – there’s a little too much reliance on easy rhymes here – but musically, the heavy, groove oriented approach that’s shared certainly places the band at somewhere near the top of their game. For those who like things loud and very dirty, this single’s blend of overdriven guitar work, thundering bass and vocal force should hit the mark.

March 2024