THE REAL GONE SINGLES BAR #55

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. As always, we’ve been swamped with submissions – although there’s always room for more! – and we’ve had a tough job picking out some of the best tunes. This week, the Singles Bar features some brilliant shoegaze, a couple of bluesy bits, a slice of indie folk, two very different styles of punk, and more besides. Hopefully you’ll find something new to enjoy…

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A couple of years on from the release of ‘Summerheads and Winter Beds’, The Raft returns with ‘The Boy Lives On The Wind’. The single comes with a harder beat than some of the previous Raft recordings, since a loud snare keeps a steady rhythm throughout, but the song still finds time for various familiar traits. You’ll find a world of jangle pop and dream pop guitar lines flowing through these five minutes which set up a classic Raft sound when accompanied by a heavily filtered vocal, but main man Phil Wilson branches out even further here. At its peak, the arrangement takes in a wall of shoegaze guitar lines, contrasting the airy qualities with a fuzzy backdrop, and a chopping riff underscored by a melody that sounds as if were inspired by a banjo riff. If that were not enough, multi-layered voices further flesh out a huge sound and a jangly indie guitar cuts through the cracks. Despite the opening of the song feeling a little ploddy, this eventually becomes one of the biggest and busiest Raft tracks to date.

It takes all of a second before indie folk trio Wild Remedy begin flaunting their gift for vocal brilliance on the enjoyable ‘Home Song’. That’s just be a quick tease by way of an intro, but it immediately suggests great things ahead. An acoustic stomper, the bulk of the track shares a busy rhythm with elements of trad folk, but Wild Remedy are able to bring more of a melody via their smooth, effortless vocal stance which often finds the performers waist deep in hugely appealing three part harmonies. With further help from a narrative that shares the universal themes of safety and belonging, the track has a wonderful sense of warmth despite the busy arrangement, and quickly sounds like an old folk standard redressed in poppier finery, even though it is a wholly original work. Like a marriage between (a good) Mumford & Sons and the much-missed Worry Dolls, Wild Remedy sound ready to take the roots scene by storm.

From its opening howl of guitars, there’s a sense that ‘Goin’ Back From Where I Came From’ wears some sizeable shoes, musically speaking, and as its main melody develops, it’s a track that doesn’t disappoint. The opening riff sets a solid blues rock groove in place, over which Bones Owens quickly shares an equally bluesy vocal, whilst a huge drum part attacks with a rigidity that gives everything a genuinely tough quality. Using the title as the number’s main hook, Owens doesn’t care for anything too flashy, but when used in tandem with a returning lead guitar riff, he gives the song a solid core that sounds like something from the Black Keys’ back-catalogue – only better. For fans of melodic garage blues-rock, this is a single not to be missed.

A track inspired by being trapped in horrible day jobs and feeling like “just another number in the system…with horrible bosses”, Not Dead Yet’s ‘Filthy Rich’ taps into a world of pop punk that feels very familiar, but as the track powers forward, with sharp guitar sounds augmented with synth horns (something that rarely works, and is never associated with pop punk, but here, it works just fine), the band summons a sound a little bigger than their norm. Tightly arranged and brilliantly played, with the help of melodic vocals and a chorus that sounds like a deep cut from Bowling For Soup, this slice of Good Charlotte-esque pop punk brings high octane fun despite its angst filled lyric. Guaranteed to please a broad spectrum of genre fans, Not Dead Yet throw a pop punk party like it’s still 2001…but on ‘Filthy Rich’, they sound stronger than ever. [Warning: lyrical content is potentially NSFW]

‘Mourn’ by singer songwriter Stephanie Lea shares a lyric dealing with the universal theme of grief. Inspired by the passing of her grandparents, the number is driven by some very raw emotions. “I wasn’t ready for the pain”, she cries, her huge voice soaring above a solid riff, blending goth rock with a strong melodic rock undertone. “Now there’s a divide in the family”, she continues, reminding the audience of those lost to us along the way; those no longer here: the empty chair at the dinner table, and the hole that losing a loved one inevitably leaves. Her honest, soul bearing approach actually gives the relatively safe arrangement something far more solid, and her voice is never less than great throughout. For those who are always happy to explore sounds somewhere towards the more melodic end of the Within Temptation catalogue, or love commercial rock with a reasonable crunch, despite being driven by sadness, this single will be a welcome treat.

‘Moondog’ marks a long overdue return for singer songwriter Leif Vollebekk. His first new release in five years, the track shares both a fragility and warmth as he lays down a brilliant finger picked guitar part, overlays a world of smooth vocals and gradually weaves a folk-pop sound that’s almost timeless. With hints of Conor Oberst and a mid 90s Iain Matthews, the number is a near perfect example of the chosen musical style, and with the help of a subtle harmonica and warm bass, a stripped down sound actually feels rather full. If that were not enough to win the hearts of fans both old and new, a gentle harmony vocal courtesy of the great Anais Mitchell really seals the deal. A great single.

Here’s a noisier offering from Italy’s Feldspar. The first new music from a forthcoming full length, ‘Cobblestones’ is a very strong piece of melodic hardcore. It works huge riffs that draw influence from the more accessible end of the Hatebreed catalogue, peppers those with a brighter sounding lead guitar to create an impressive wall of sound, and tops that with an old school vocal to create something huge for the style. Although the chunky, punky riffs are absolutely massive, in many ways, it’s the way bigger gang vocals are used to create an indelible hook that makes the track. Fans of the style will likely hear various different influences put to great use here, but Feldspar’s sheer force ensures ‘Cobblestones’ more than holds its own.

…And finally, a return to bluesy climes with a superb track from Krissy Matthews. The young musician has released a few great albums already, but his current disc sees him stretching out. Not only is ‘Krissy Matthews & Friends’ a sprawling double album, but as its title suggests, it features a whole array of special guests. Among the many names featured, you’ll find blues musician Dani Wilde and 60s legend Chris Farlowe. ‘Pack It Up’ features Matthews alongside Big Daddy Wilson and Alice Armstrong, and is a track that really packs a punch. It opens with a fat funky bass and rousing horns, which is more than enough to attract the attention. Matthews adds fluid, bluesy guitar lines, and then everything really takes off when Wilson and Armstrong trade off vocals during a very soulful exchange. It might seem, at first, as if Matthews is just a featured player on his own recording since he doesn’t contribute any vocals here, but fans will experience him playing with as much fire as before, and the way his pointed lead guitar work cuts between the vocals shows him in impressive shape, musically speaking.

May/June 2024

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