Back in 2018, multi-instrumentalist, producer and one-time member of The Cure launched a new project, Astral Drive. The “band” acted as an outlet for Thornalley to revisit the kind of 70s AM radio pop he’d always loved. The album marked itself out as an instant classic, often inviting comparisons to the best works by Todd Rundgren and Jeff Lynne; the kind of record that would keep fans of classic retro pop entertained for years.
The album was then represented in stripped back arrangements on a digital release (self-titled, referred to as “The Green Album”), but it didn’t seem as if the world would see brand new music from Astral Drive again for some time…or possibly ever. The original LP almost sounded like a flash in the pan for retro cool; a perfect statement of the past, recreated for the present. To follow it up with anything as perfect would be a tall order after all.
When The Lickerish Quartet made their first appearance in the spring of 2020, power pop fans around the world rejoiced. Not only because this new band had tapped into some brilliant and shiny pop sounds worthy of 10cc and their ilk, but rather more specifically because The Lickerish Quartet reunited the much-celebrated trio of Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Tim Smith and Eric Dover – all of whom had previous connections with 90s scene makers Jellyfish.
Their debut EP, ‘Threesome, Vol. 1’ brought out the best in their combined talents. There were the obvious nods to their Jellyfish and Imperial Drag pasts throughout, but with a little less bombast, the release offered a selection of timeless pop. Its best track, ‘Bluebird’s Blues’, sounded rather like Crowded House with its semi-acoustic backbone and rich harmonies, suggesting that Tim Smith and Lickerish Quartet drummer Jeremy Stacey had absorbed a little of their influence while working with The Finn Brothers in 2005. It wasn’t Jellyfish, but very little is – nor was it ever intended to be – but as a selection of retro pop tunes in its own right, it really worked.
In November 2019, Real Gone reached its ten year anniversary of being online. To celebrate, we shared thoughts on ten albums we loved from that decade. That list came with two strict rules beyond becoming favourites: each year had to be represented by one album and each album had to in some way have helped our site to become more established.
As we reach the end of the year, it’s time to look back more broadly on some of our favourite albums of the ’10s; albums that have kept us listening for pleasure long after the reviews and coverage have been completed. If you’re a regular visitor to Real Gone, lots of these names will be familiar by now, but we hope this time for looking back helps to reconnect with a couple of old favourites, or find you a new one somewhere along the way. [Full reviews & streams can be found by clicking on the individual titles.]
In 2018, Real Gone celebrated its ninth birthday. It’s been a long and hard road to this point, but we’re pleased to be celebrating our most successful year online to date. Hundreds of new albums have been heard and a record number of gigs have been attended. Not only has this year been our biggest success…it’s also been our favourite.
Nearing the close of 2018, it’s time to look back and celebrate our favourite events – including our top ten album releases…
Normally, each year has an album that’s a clear stand out. Making that distinction this time around has been somewhat trickier, so we’re awarding a joint “album of the year” to two very different albums. If that seems like a cop-out, we don’t care…there really was only a hair’s breadth between them.
Previously at this point in December, it has become the custom for Real Gone to issue a free download containing some of the best underground tracks of the year. For the past seven or eight years, these downloads have been a popular fixture on the Real Gone calendar, turning people on to all kinds of artists.
With the changing times, we regret to say the era of the free sampler has come to an end. It seems that people much prefer streaming and with that in mind, we’ve made the decision to highlight some of our favourite tunes in an eighty minute playlist.