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. This time around, we bring you a vast array of great tunes, ranging from indie, to especially noisy post punk, to electronica; there’s some brilliant Americana, and even an unexpected collaboration. This collection of tunes really captures the variety we aim for within this regular feature so, as always, we hope there’ll be something to entertain everyone. The quest to bring you great new and recent music is still ongoing – if you have anything you think would be a great fit for a Singles Bar feature sometime in the future, please get in touch!
Scottish pop punks Around 7 have been gaining positive press throughout 2023. Their earlier single ‘Breakthrough’ showed a strong influence from the likes of Sum 41, but the band injected a much tougher edge into a familiar sound. ‘This Ain’t Your Soundtrack’ comes with a heavier feel at first, when a barrage of drums kick off a rousing intro where a hard rhythm really grabs the attention, before gang vocals suggest crowd unity. Moving into the body of the track, you’ll find more tautly played pop punk loaded with sharp edged guitars, and the way the huge “hey”s from the intro are recycled to prop up the chorus leads to something that’ll certainly rouse a live audience. It isn’t immediately catchy, but another confident vocal and a lot of muscle within a great arrangement is enough to show a talented band moving forward.
Opening with a haunting riff that sounds like muted trumpets played back via a wall of keys, Late Aster’s ‘Safety Second’ gets off to an immediately ominous start. It gives no real clue as to where the track will go. Once programmed beats and various analogue bleeps start to fill the arrangement, a very slight melody starts to work its magic, but it isn’t really until detached vocals arrive that the piece starts to make sense. The way those voices weave in and out of the electronica gives the track more of a human feel, but at the same time the mood never stops being mildly unsettling. This is a good thing. Moving through passages that sound like an Orb remix of a light indie track, it’s the kind of thing that fans of alternative music will love, but it isn’t really until it reaches its instrumental second half that the magic happens. At that point, this live session recording really latches onto a pleasing blend of downtempo electronica and light jazz, setting up a superb soundtrack for evening listening.
In terms of crossovers, this single from KnowleDJ & Christine LaRocca is most unexpected. Their collaborative recording of ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ doesn’t skim on huge club friendly beats – its mechanised base is huge. At the same time, LaRocca’s vocal remains resolutely human. In a world where so much pop is dominated by autotune, she belts out her performance with a fantastically heartfelt enthusiasm, and an equal amount of volume. Her country inflected melodies are at constant odds with the DJ’s work throughout, but that only helps to keep the track interesting.
Cleveland’s 2 Forks also have a mechanical heart, but they choose to share it in a very different way. With its combination of heavy rhythms and buzzing guitar sounds, ‘Take It’ is an obvious love letter to the industrial sounds of the 90s. It’s impossible to hear this track and not be thrown back into a world of memories soundtracked by TVT records, Al Jourgensen side projects and the brief popularity of Die Krupps. Obviously, its immediate familiarity is what often makes it so great, but its shamelessly shout-along hook makes it catchier than anything Trent Reznor has written since ‘The Perfect Drug’ decades ago.
Taking a very 90s jangle and fusing that with a sharp post-punk influence, The Lines sound retro yet contemporary on the brilliant ‘Heart Soup’. The track’s incessant rhythm is enough to sell it, but there’s plenty more within the number’s layered arrangement that makes it interesting. The way the drums and guitars collide ensures the listener’s attention is grabbed almost immediately, but thanks to a heavily phased sound throughout, an unexpected ascending and descending riff that’s used as a bridge between a chorus and instrumental break and an unapologetically Scottish vocal, the single becomes very distinctive, despite its retro heart.
Sadlands, an indie/punk band from Brooklyn/Queens, aren’t shy in sharing a big, feel good melody on their current single ‘Flowers’. In keeping with their chosen genre’s tropes, the track flaunts a huge chiming guitar sound and a crashy feel that sounds like an old Letters To Cleo track in bigger boots. That’ll be enough alone to win over a lot of ears, but the big draw here comes via the huge dual vocals of Jess Lane and Samantha Campanile. Their voices immediately introduce something bigger than this sort of track would normally need, and somewhere around the end of the first verse, their voices really start to sell a great melody. If you’ve not been won over by the mid point, the band ups the musical stakes by wheeling out the catchiest set of whoahs to grace a guitar driven banger in some time. To hear ‘Flowers’ once is to love it – hear it three or four times, and you might be convinced it’s one of 2023’s best tunes.
Roots meets AOR on The Matinee’s timeless sounding ‘Bad Addiction’. Across five minutes, the Vancouver based Americana act awaken the ghosts of Faces ballads and recycle the softer moments of the early Black Crowes catalogue with flawless results. Frontman Matt Layzell sells an aching melody with vocal precision; guitarist Geoff Petrie steps in with a brilliantly retro solo, and it’s clear that both musicians really feel the melody. …And that’s before some very retro keys sound as if the legendary Garth Hudson has stepped in. In so many ways, ‘Bad Addiction’ seems like a song you’ve always known, but that just makes it so much better.
Such a reflective mood makes the post punk sounds of Alien Gothic feel even more abrasive. Unafraid to swamp almost everything in reverb, the vocals become a massive echoing noise throughout ‘Shine The Lights’, and the music – latching onto heavy gothic drums and ugly drones – takes the mood of early Jesus & Mary Chain into even darker musical corners. Occasionally, it’s possible to experience the wall of sound approach beloved by A Place To Bury Strangers, or even the density of the extreme end of My Bloody Valentine, but the warped and moody noise here more than suggests Alien Gothic are busy carving out a new niche in obtuseness that you won’t be hearing on the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show. Crank the volume and just let the layers of droning oddness absorb you. You’ll either love it or hate it. Either way, Alien Gothic have made an impression.