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 previous few weeks. This time out, we bring you a rather eclectic bunch of tunes, ranging from synthpop to light pop, from 90s inspired rock to post-goth. We’ve even managed to contrast a dance track and a soul pop based number with something very heavy, ensuring there’s something here for almost everyone. As always, we’ve had a truckload of submissions over the past seven days, so there’s more good stuff to come…


A fretless bass sound and a gentle marimba create the core of the brilliant ‘Crystal Blue’ by Still Corners. This mix of dream pop and floaty ideals creates the perfect marriage, resulting in something almost other worldly. The arrangement never really moves too far from its opening notes, save for a slightly bigger melody for a chorus and to present a very understated jazz guitar break, but it doesn’t need to. The blend of hazy pop and Tessa Murray’s unfussy, natural lead vocal is very appealing, and creates the feeling of being on a sun trapped beach throughout. In terms of that atmosphere, it’s likely one of the best tunes influenced by the idea of looking across open water since Groove Armada released ‘At The River’ almost a quarter of a century earlier.

‘Microwaves’ by synthpop pioneer Michael Moers is, by turns, both quirky and very serious. The music, loaded with cold and mechanical sounds and reliant on disjointed bleeps for its major hooks, suggests something frivolous and very 80s, but the song’s subject matter takes a much darker turn. The lyrics dig deeply into how the effects of microwaves are slowly killing us – something known since the early 80s. Who better to deliver this message of doom regarding your frozen pies than ex-Propaganda vocalist Claudia Brücken? This is a musical marriage made in heaven. Michael’s cold wave approach to music compliments Claudia’s matter of fact style, but Claudia still manages to inject a few great melodies into the main hook, ensuring a track that could’ve been completely unsettling has a strong, but if somewhat strange, appeal.

The 90s are being celebrated in a huge way on Plum Vision’s excellent ‘Have It All’. The track is barely a few bars in before the tones of ‘Live Through This’ era Hole take over, and armed with a pleasingly lax vocal, the number also manages to be reminiscent of other lesser remembered alternative rock bands like Jale. Despite the very familiar style, there’s nothing here that feels remotely tired; the hard edged rhythm guitar work shares a consistent energy throughout, and a rousing chorus combines an anger with a melody that truly sells the punchy arrangement. With lyrics that deal with “the relentless pursuit of power”, it also sets itself up as being smarter than your average angst filled tune. Simply put, this is a brilliant single that shows how nostalgic sounds can still pack a great punch. [Warning: NSFW lyrical content]

There’s something almost lovely sitting at the heart of Stumbleine’s ‘I Can Stop Anytime I Like’. The track’s bright sounding, jazz toned guitar calls out with a real clarity against various ambient keyboard sounds. These elements are so uplifting in their minimalism, that’s almost enough to sell the track. It’s certainly enough to wish there’d been a stripped back, ambient mix of the piece. As it is, the best bits are hidden behind an off kilter drum loop and joined by a pitch adjusted vocal. This plays interestingly in its own way, too, but the juxtaposition of sweeping melody and jarring rhythms can make it a little difficult to digest. That said, Stumbleine has certainly created something interesting here; a slight piece of electronica that’s too dance oriented for the ambient crowd, but too off kilter to dance to. It’s possible to imagine that Aphex Twin might’ve conjured something similar on a quiet day. A strange offering, for sure.

The pulsing rhythms and dark guitar tones that power ‘Like A Hammer’ from Then Comes Silence owe plenty to 80s and 90s goth, but the band adds more of a more modern twist to a familiar sound. Firstly, there’s a genuine energy to the track that some 80s goths would never have dared to embrace. Then there’s a world of layered instrumentation that makes a semi-cold sound feel inviting, and also has the benefit of making the occasional keyboard hooks appear even more poppy. If the love of pop-ish derived sounds wasn’t quite obvious enough, the chorus throws in a wall of harmony vocals ensuring a once dark sound comes with a pleasingly commercial edge. It’s a pleasure to hear something familiar reaching for somewhere a little more exciting, rather than ploughing the same old furrow, which promises a great deal from the band’s forthcoming album.

Silver Dollar Room’s ‘Little Things’ mixes the heaviness and general fuzz of 90s alternative with a more melodic edge. It immediately catches the ear with a groove laden riff, but grows further in the melodic stakes with the help of both a clean toned vocal and a funk inspired pre-chorus. Falling somewhere between Stone Temple Pilots, Bush and early Blind Melon, their sound allows for plenty of nostalgic feelings, but there’s plenty about the number’s general vibe that still feels very effective in the present as the punchy elements are plentiful. With lyrics touching on emotional turmoil – inspired by Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down’ – any unease is amplified with a rather honest delivery. Whilst not especially original, this is a strong track that fans of the style will certainly enjoy.

It’s been pitched as electro-funk and synth pop, but ‘Too Much’ by Branjae fits far more snugly into the bracket of soul influenced dance sounds. We could quibble over subgenres all day, of course, but what really matters here is the quality of the arrangement. From its early bars, which set up a sound that marries a heady disco groove with the more commercial strains of 90s dance, there’s a feeling of strength here. As the tune gains momentum and Branjae adds an equally strong soul influenced vocal, it becomes unshakable within its chosen niche. Then, the chorus hits and its multi-layered vocals reinforce a strong radio friendly mood. Even with a few of the vocal melodies edging towards the busy, there’s always an ear on a big melody throughout, and eventually, all of the influences and elements pull together, leaving behind a dance inflected number that could’ve been recorded at any point over the previous thirty years.

There’s a lot packed into just four minutes on Exiled Hope’s ‘The Silence Is Deafening’. For lovers of heavy riff, the single features a world of doom based guitar chords that lean towards the My Dying Bride end of things with gothic overtones, but to dismiss this as purely a heavy/doom track would be doing the performer a massive disservice, as there’s a different kind of dark atmosphere here that’s just as important. Between the crunchier elements, multi-instrumentalist Sofia Frasz explores a synth based, gothic mellowness that gives her sometimes dour vocal the perfect backdrop. These moments are a near perfect homage to 90s goth metal sounds, and her voice sometimes feels as much about capturing a similar mood. The push and pull between this light and shade would make a strong number, but Sofia has other ideas, and she tops everything with a burst of absolutely brutal black metal where intensive thrash collides with a retching vocal, creating an extremely cold and oppressive backdrop from which there feels as if there will be no way back.

March 2024