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 around, we bring you some Americana via Australia, some huge electro-pop, a devastating piece of metal, the return of some yacht rock heroes, and more besides…


The polar opposite to her earlier ‘Battlefield’ single, Aussie Americana star Helen Townsend aims for something more upbeat on the brilliant ‘Baby Come Home’. In the performer’s own words, it’s “honky tonk Americana with a soulful twist”, and that’s a fairly accurate description of what you’ll find here. Helen’s voice retains a slight country twang on some of the number’s longer notes, and her general tone calls back to the genre’s heartbreakers of the 50s, but there’s more at stake, musically speaking. A rolling piano line gives the track a pleasing R&B energy in places, whilst the main melody shares a style that’s more in keeping with Van Morrison putting his mark on an old soul number. Whichever way you slice it, this a magical single that aims to uplift, and showcases a fantastic backing band as much as Townsend’s own talents.

A pulsing rhythm and a whispered vocal come together during the intro of Julia-Sophie’s ‘Numb’ in a way that sets up an interesting atmosphere. Even by the time a slightly busier chorus has passed, the track seems in no hurry. A wall of electronica is slowly built across the next few minutes, with busy synths occasionally feeling more dominant than the vocal. There are more hushed whispers, sometimes accompanied by an ambient loop that sounds like a descendent of The Orb’s classic ‘Assassin’, and a harder edged groove more in keeping with early System 7, but it’s Julia-Sophie who remains the true star, appearing intermittently to draw in the listener with a performance that’s sometimes mildly unsettling. As the last notes fade to a chorus of sampled, glitchy voices, there’s a feeling that this electronic offering has been rather special.

‘No Strangers’ by Federale comes with a 90s indie jangle, but beneath the surface, it’s a track with a much older heart. Its semi-crooned vocal is a tribute to the legendary Lee Hazlewood, but the retro qualities run much more deeply. The main melody is joined by a grand orchestral flourish which pays homage to a wide range of 60s chamber pop; ghostly guitar work adds an Americana flavour that’s provides a perfect counterpoint to the voice, and the well-produced, layered sound offers something different of interest on each successive play. Overall, this is a single that fits within a singer songwriter sphere, but beyond that, Federale clearly aren’t keen to be pigeonholed. Unlike a lot of acts with an outsider’s stance, however, they certainly aren’t afraid to keep things very accessible.

Accessible isn’t a word you’d ever level at “party doom” band Gurt. A snapshot from their forthcoming album ‘Satan, etc.’, ‘Appetite For Construction’ veers much closer to traditional doom than some of Gurt’s previous work, but its repetitive, downtuned guitar riff and some amazing drumming take a very familiar style into places that still feel quite invigorating. By the time the number’s darkest riffs are lifted by a banshee like howl from a deep and bluesy guitar, it gives a clearer insight into some great musicianship. It’s not a hit in the truest sense, obviously, but it’s definitely the kind of recording that will excite the band’s extant fans.

State Cows, everyone’s favourite yacht rock duo, have returned with ‘Summer Cloud’, a track that’s a little different from their norm. You’ll find the usual lush harmonies here and the expected melodies drawn from early Toto and Airplay records, but on this track, they’ve opted for something a little grander. Warm bass and flowing piano lines are augmented by rich orchestration, which serves a familiar vocal brilliantly throughout, and the even slicker than usual approach from these talented musicians takes in some of the smoother elements of ‘Midnight Rendezvous’ by David Roberts. That’s not to say it’s completely airy; a busy keyboard solo harks back to both the State Cows debut LP (a westcoast essential) and late 70s Doobie Brothers fare, and moments of perfect guitar show influence from Jay Graydon. In short, it’s another retro classic from the Swedish lads.

Winifred has been called “one to watch”, and her ‘Carpet of Flowers’ makes it fairly obvious why. The single’s general groove blends a solid R&B sound with a huge electronic drone and big beats, whilst the singer contrasts the heavily mechanised style with a light, almost vulnerable vocal. That sets up a very contemporary sound at the time of release, but it’s one of those tracks that actually sounds better after a few plays and far deeper than first impressions might suggest. Despite being a little overproduced, it’s clear that Winifred has a decent voice, and the way she uses that to sell a reasonably big pop hook throughout feels far more natural than the production values here would have you believe. Beneath the sheen and beats, there’s a fantastic pop song desperate to escape.

Previously an instrumental band, Belgian prog metallers URSA have now added vocals to their huge riffs, and ‘Primordial Crown’ sounds absolutely immense! More than your bog standard Dream Theater inspired prog metal, the track opens with a slow, heavy groove that’s closer to the more extreme end of post rock, before sliding into a slow head nodding rhythm to allow for a siren-like lead guitar. Having set up a great, heavy melody, it’s all change to allow a more jagged rhythm to sit beneath a very aggressive vocal. The raw tones of the voice are add more of a hardcore/melodic death persuasion, but the way the band contrast an abrasive voice with a solid riff and a clean vocal on the chorus shows a great gift for arranging. The vocals may be a new feature for the band, but it’s still the riffs that are of the greater importance here, and this track certainly isn’t short of those! Moving from the more jagged elements of the arrangement, the second half of the number takes in moments of mechanised heaviness that sound more like Vanden Plas jamming with a nu-metal bassist, and even a concession to doom. A genuine melting pot of pure heaviness stretched over five minutes, ‘Primordial Crown’ isn’t especially commercial – even by metal standards – but as a no-holds-barred showcase for a band moving forward, it really works.

Last up, here’s another number with a very electronic base. Veronica D’Souza’s ‘Just Because A Crush’ works around a slow and rather mechanical rhythm, but slowly draws the listener into a tune with a broader melodic charm thanks to a huge vocal. D’Souza contrasts the sparse musical arrangement with a confident performance that falls somewhere between soul and pop; then, by multi-tracking her vocal, an already pleasing melody grows into a wall of sound that really suits the slow R&B groove. If you’re halfway into this single at this point, it’s guaranteed to become a favourite, but at the point where the single appears to reach a natural end, something even better emerges: a rather strident piano melody arrives somewhat unexpectedly. This adds a vaguely 70s colourant that potentially helps a good track become a great one.

May 2024