Teenage Fanclub have come a long way from their humble beginnings on the fringes of shoegaze, and looking back, it’s interesting to observe their gradual shift towards a more melodic sound as Norman Blake and Gerard Love matured as song writers. A trio of releases adjacent to Britpop – 1993’s ‘Thirteen’, 1995’s ‘Grand Prix’ and 1997’s ‘Songs From Northern Britain’ – brought major success and enthusiastic press, and it’s easy to hear why. On those records, the band added a world of melody to their guitar dominated sound, creating the almost perfect 60s homage for the delight of 90s music fans. Decades on, they are albums that still stand up among the era’s very best.
At the beginning of 2023, Tucson’s Lemon Drop Gang made their overdue return with ‘Sweetie Pie’, a track that re-introduced listeners to their ragged blend of CBGB’s infused riffs and Phil Spector-ish pop. As with the band’s previous works, it was far from sonic perfection, but then this band never pretended they were in possession of Brian Wilson or Todd Rundgren’s song writing chops or studio expertise. For fans, it was the kind of track that signified a fun and welcome return, whilst its digital flip side (‘The Party’s Over’) shared their love of 60s pop in its own brilliantly wonky way.
The self-titled debut album from Portable Radio was one of 2021’s more welcome surprises. Coming at the end of a year where most people not employed as a Conservative MP spent most of their time rattling around indoors, the British band’s brand of retro music hit like a little ray of sunshine, piercing through the gloom. Their big single ‘Should’ve Bounced’ – a tune loaded with stabbed pianos and chiming guitars – gave a good indication of the album’s finer wares with its infectious pop inspired by Jeff Lynne but, even deeper into a great record, the Portable Radio brand of retro pop held firm. With other tunes tapping into the same influences beloved by Teenage Fanclub, and material sounding like a marriage between The early 70s Hollies and the poppier end of Supergrass, the album offered something great for most lovers of AM radio inspired pop.
Back in the 00’s, US punks Chinese Telephones released a few split EPs and an album on It’s Alive Records (home of Gateway District, The Methadones, City Mouse and others) before calling time before the end of decade. They received some positive press, but in punk terms, never seemed to be mentioned as often as they deserved to be. This had as much to do with an over-subscribed scene as anything else. For those outside of Milwaukee, chances are that the only real encounters you had with the band back then came courtesy of the audio widget on the Last FM website which, in a pre-Spotify age, would happy drop tracks from the Chinese Telephones album between better known material from Teenage Bottlerocket, The Copyrights and The Lawrence Arms.
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. As always, the amount of submissions has been staggering, and we’ve cherry picked some of our favourite tracks for your enjoyment. This time around, we’ve got a soundtrack worthy tune, some top notch power pop, a fine tribute to a Boston heroine, and more besides. We hope you find something to enjoy!