THE REAL GONE SINGLES BAR #60

Welcome back to the Singles Bar, the place where we explore some of the individual tracks that have landed in our inbox over the previous few weeks. This time around, we’ve mixed the familiar with the new, to bring you something that sounds like a superb tribute to AM radio pop, some contemporary rock sounds, a feel good pop track, a re-working of an old dance classic and more besides. As always, we hope you like what you hear, and discover something new!

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First up, it’s a welcome return for Aussie singer songwriter Shannon Smith, maker of ‘Dance The Night Away’ – the best single of 2023. Shannon has shared a few more enjoyable numbers since then, which have explored more of a downbeat mood, but with ‘Every Single Day’, he returns to the realm of bouncy AM radio pop. From the outset, there’s a great sunny vibe, as horns and electric piano set up a melody that would’ve suited Paul Carrack in his Ace days, and from there, the tune goes from strength to strength. The verse continues in a manner that clings on to the uplifting mood, making a great feature of Smiths voice, and a harmony driven chorus shows how the celebratory ‘Dance The Night Away’ was no fluke. Factor in a semi-jazzy sax break, some sturdy sounding bass work and a few fantastic keyboard fills, and this recreates the greatest 70s sounds for a 2024 crowd. Those who’ve followed Smith’s musical progress so far will absolutely love this tune.

‘Turning The Whole World On’ by New Zealand’s Silk Cut is a power pop dream. From its opening notes, the wall of ringing guitars sets up a classic, sugar coated, 60s inspired melody, and the rhythm section present a strong backline. Over everything, a hugely confident vocal augments a timeless sound, and the NZ accent invites immediate comparisons to classic works by Neil and Tim Finn. It takes about a minute to fall in love with this track – it’ll have won listeners’ hearts even before a world of massive harmonies sells a great hook. It’s the full package: in addition to its more melodic charms, a chiming guitar fills a few instrumental bars with ease and a strange, bendy lead guitar offers a great counter melody during the final moments. In power pop terms, this supplies the perfect listen.

With a blend of punky crunch, a pinch of emo sensibility and a huge hook, ‘The Age That You Were’ by Pet Needs is a track that’s incredibly well formed. Offering more scope than your average pop punk workout, the verse centres around a repetitious rhythm which shows the band’s harder side – especially when coupled with some really energised gang vocals – but that’s balanced by a great chorus where an emo-ish, strong punky melody pushes a huge tune forth, and a great lead vocal accentuates a very natural feel. Humorous lyrics about the difference between generations are a great counterpart to the main melodies, but a massive breakdown midway that leans a little further towards melodic hardcore provides this single’s defining musical moment. In melodic punk terms, there’s a lot here that’ll feel very familiar, but it’s a three minute workout that’s absolutely brimming with great moments.

Lonely Little Kitsch released the excellent single ‘Monster’ in 2023 and then seemed to disappear. The duo have finally made a welcome return with ‘Stuck In Place’, a huge sounding, radio friendly tune that owes as much to the late 90s as the present. From a semi-acoustic beginning, the mid-tempo arrangement grows to accommodate a strong vocal from Kirsten, before exploding into a slightly distorted chorus where the Kitsch explore a sound that’s one part pop-rock, one part post-grunge fuzziness. The push and pull between the two moods maintains a great interest throughout, but the track really comes into its own during the latter stages when guitarist Nolan steps forth with a darker counter vocal which adds extra layers of melody, before everything peaks with a wall of guitars and introduces a much rockier feel. It isn’t as instant as ‘Monster’, but its a track that, over time, shows more great promise for the featured musicians, and the kind of single that deserves to attract a larger fanbase.

Here’s a real treat for fans of classic, but commercial goth sounds. ‘Diving For Pearls’ by Beauty In Chaos is a single that’s big on melody, and right from its opening bars that share a lot of DNA with The Cure’s ‘Pictures of You’, its a track that feels wonderfully nostalgic. A warm bass collides with a bright sounding guitar throughout, often in a way that highlights that late 80s feel, but despite being quite dominant, it never draws too much away from an equally great vocal. The many musical ingredients come together with absolute perfection, even before taking a very strong chorus into consideration. For the hook, Michael Ciravolo is joined by the legendary Wayne Hussey, who adds an understated but vital harmony which helps ‘Diving For Pearls’ further feel like something that’s spent years lurking somewhere in a shared fan consciousness. A couple of plays in, this track becomes indispensable; a love letter to a musical past, but something that sounds just as fine in the present.

There’s a whole world of great feelings running through ‘All Is Ours’ by Dutch pop star Davina Michelle. Creating a first impression here is easy, since the single presents a huge, celebratory keyboard riff that plays against an upbeat drum loop, creating something that sounds like an old a-ha tune played back at speed. With that subsequently used as a superb musical hook between the verses, there is more than enough to catch the ear, but Davina’s enthused vocal and a more modern melody cutting through the rest of the track creates something more contemporary – and even more radio oriented. It doesn’t matter where you choose to focus: whether its on the huge keys, pop-driven vocal, or warmer sounding chorus hook where the performer’s voice raises to deliver something simple yet catchy with an unexpected hint of a Pat Benetar hit or too, this really hits the spot. When done just right, pure pop can be so uplifting, and this offers solid proof of that.

It’s nostalgia a-go-go with London producer/DJ SNARL who has reworked The Prodigy’s classic ‘No Good (Start The Dance) into a harder edged floor filler for ’24. The vocal hook remains, and one of the original, now familiar riffs sits in the centre, but Snarl has rebuilt everything else from the ground up. There are moments here where the dance beats take on a heavier, glitch-based mood, but that’s not as strong as a passage of heavy EDM draws more from a now retro dubstep-ish groove, or latterly, the busy drumloop that pushes everything into a hardcore inflected direction. It’s mostly very different, but the two retained elements within the vocal sample and core melody ensure that it remains utterly recognisable. For those old Prodigy fans who are open to a new twist on an old favourite, it’ll certainly be a welcome recording.

Shiva May Care’s ‘Falling Down’ has been compared to Queens of The Stone Age and The Hives – both fine bands – but its huge, fuzzed out, retro vibe owes a little more to another huge rock band. From its opening crash of drums and into a huge guitar riff that works a heavy wah-wah, it’s almost impossible not to recognise the huge sounds of an on-form Velvet Revolver at the heart of the track. As things progress, with the addition of a vocal courtesy of the talented Molly Q, the band’s own identity comes through much more strongly as she curls a huge voice around an equally massive groove. At the point where it feels like the heavy riff and really direct hook hit their peak, guitarist J3t L4g wheels out a massive hard rock inflected lead guitar break, calling back to a classic pre-grunge sound as he melts his fretboard with ease. In his own words, the track was a “great excuse to use a mild octave pedal and wah-wah”, but ‘Falling Down’ is far more than that. It’s big, its brazen and it’s massively catchy. A genuine classic for the era.

July 2024

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