Turning New Pages

Posted: October 22, 2018 in Local
Tags:

The Last Word on Puppet Rebellion

Please don’t put your life in the hands of a rock and roll band, who’ll throw it all away

Someone sung those words once, and they have rebounded around my head like pinballs since Manchester band Puppet Rebellion announced they were disbanding. Life is in your hands though, so you can put it in the hands of whichever band you want to.

axufjo1539858997

You sing the words of your band like they are chiselled on your heart. I mean, if you are lucky, you sing them like they are everything. If you are lucky and you find a band who speaks to you, speaks for you and becomes crucial to your everyday life. If you think I am being dramatic then you’ve probably never had that kind of relationship with music. How awful that must be for you. But then again, you’d be able to read about Puppet Rebellion riding off into the sunset and you’ll be able to brush it off as if I just told you that Marks and Spencer’s don’t put ring pulls on their own brand of baked beans. No big deal!

But music is a big deal. A band should write the soundtrack to your life. Lyrics about nothing can become everything. It works for you because you believe it, and when you believe it then you become a passenger on a journey. Bands and their fans create this thing together, a promise, a contract between the two; you follow where they lead you, living the highs and experiencing whatever lows may come. Maybe you’ll even agree to be in the same room a few times. That is the best feeling. Magic things happen in that room. That’s when everything is created, from nothing, right in front of you. There is nothing there until someone counts off and you suddenly realise, they weren’t just your everything they spoke to all the other people too and you are an army.

Better than drugs.

Puppet Rebellion leave behind an army. Believers. I can sit here and say it shouldn’t have ended this way, it shouldn’t have ended at all. But an unwritten part of the contract is the hope that if the heroes on that stage ever get to the point where they are phoning it in, you hope they will drop their capes and depart. Music can be many things, after all, but it should never be false. Sometimes they have to do the honourable thing and get a divorce. Those who love the band will probably ask questions, like hurt kids, whats next? Why now? Don’t they love us?

Those questions are all scenic and the answers will become clear in time. Maybe. n2f21k1539858029Maybe not. The contract is never iron clad, bands throw it all away, remember? And now the Rebellion is over we have the time and the space to look at the legacy they left us and, as anger and confusion leaves us, we can admit it’s a fucking epic legacy.
They wanted to write their own tunes and play them back to people who loved them. They were never in any rush to complete their album, it had to be right when we got it. So EP’s came first, song after song improving, changing and staying the same. You cannot be angry that the journey ends here, because from verse one through to chapter the last, it has been monumental and it still exists. Anyone new stumbling through life can stagger into a pacey melodic story and take the journey when they are ready. The lucky ones knew how good the journey was while it was happening. We’ll never get the promised second album.

Leave a beautiful corpse though, right?

Puppet Rebellion will never again tug at our heartstrings, the contract is null and void and we move on.
If they spoke to you, you were ahead of the others. The cool kids needed you on the top playground, you knew the handshake, you were in on the joke.
Dear friends, you were born three nil up, you were lucky. We were lucky.

Lets turn our new pages now.

Given to Sounds, October 2018.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

fallenangel1n

When a band releases a Best Of it’s easy to be cool and write it off as a cash grab, the band in question might have split up, might be going on an indefinite hiatus, might be at the end of their contract, there’s lots of reasons for them in fairness. For a long time I didn’t get Elbow’s Best Of, that’s not be being cool by the way, it just passed me by. I’ve spent the best part of a month with it and I really really didn’t want to like it but I’m here to tell you the boys have done well with it. I wanted to be all yeah well buy the albums, scoff scoff scoff, they’ve missed off such and such well this isn’t for the Day One crowd is it scoff scoff… but it is. This isn’t the end of their story, but this collection works as the end of a phase – I don’t even want to say Phase One because at over twenty five years thats some first chapter. Whatever you call it, from Asleep to Little Fictions it’s been a journey; they were some way down the road before the world seemed to wake up to them after all, and the journey is told in this collection.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Rebellion Is Ready

Posted: October 10, 2017 in Local
Tags:

In March 2016 when GTS last wrote about Puppet Rebellion we had nothing but nice things to say about the Life Is In Your Hands EP and we truly basked in warm anthemic glow of the euphoric single Fragments (2016). Front man Oliver Davies told us that he believed the best was yet to come. He was telling the truth. November sees the release of their debut album, Chemical Friends, and the band sound ready for the next chapter. At the end of 2016 Rebellion released The Pact EP which included ‘Fragments’ and needed songs of equal quality to sit alongside it and from the opening track you know they were successful in finding them. The Pact is pacey and melodic it hustles from the first minute to the last. Lyrically it’s about two people running into the future, away from somewhere and into someplace new. In this context the second track ‘Fragments’ works very well, The Pact sees us going somewhere at speed, but Fragments is slower and more expansive and has some drive before the drums bring in the wonderful chorus and the whole piece flies majestically, “is it all that you want, is it all that you need?” It’s still a journey, but we are slowing down and smelling the flowers. The song is gorgeously built up and lifts off in all the right places. The third track Maybe You Won’t is another locomotive, literally it moves like a train and it completes the new songs on the EP, leaving a re-recording of The Greatest Lie Ever Told. The first version featured on their debut EP in 2013, also titled Chemical Friends, back then the band was fronted by Simon Monaghan and his delivery of the vocal there was a standout moment on that collection. The band play this song live so you can see why they wanted to re-record it and bring it up to date, there are some differences, the guitars seem more withdrawn for instance and it’s nice to hear but the real strength of The Pact EP lies in the first three tunes. Oliver Davies is the voice of this band and while the band can and do doth their cap respectfully towards their past, Oliver is no-ones sound a like.

This year the band released two very strong new songs. Please Me and Slave have enough in them so that you hear the Puppet Rebellion you know but, excitingly, there’s new directions too. On Please Me the band finds a strut and a funk that shows the confidence the band rightfully has. You gotta have a faith in me…” Oliver sings, owning the vocals masterfully. Please Me might just be the catchiest thing Puppet Rebellion has committed to record but the band did not rest on that, they also gave us Slave a stomp through dirty guitars and a groove we’ve not heard from the band before. It’s different and it’s new. Puppet Rebellion seem to enjoy producing get off your arse music, whether it be a call to arms to make a better life (Life is In Your Hands), not settling for second best (Test Pilot) or taking a chance and risking it all for love (The Pact). For their album they have songs in their repetoir they can recall from day one and these can be redelivered with all of the unity, musicianship and confidence they currently possess. Cupboards Painted Red for example is an earlier offering that was heart breaking back then, sounds stunning live and will be re-presented beautifully.

As the band look to pack fans into their album launch next month, they know they have an audience that has grown with them and they know they can bring on new people. The album is not day one so to speak, but it will be for a lot of people. The album doesn’t whitewash anything that has gone before it, it’s the end of one journey and the beginning of an entirely new one at the same time. They are a forward-looking band; find any of the EP’s discussed over the years on GTS, you certainly won’t find a band that has found their comfort zone and stayed in it. The first song we listened to back in 2013 and the latest from 2017 sound different in all the ways you want them to be when you enjoy a band, but the quality of song has always been strong. Puppet Rebellion have made the foundations of their house unshakeable and they have the freedom to paint the walls whatever colour they want.

Follow the band on Twitter @PuppetRebellion

Check out the official website for information on their album launch.

© 2017 Simon Andrew Moult / Moultymedia. See this site for details.

Hands Like Houses: Dissonants Tour

Manchester Academy 3, Wednesday 25th May 2016. 

The first thing I ever hear from this band is the opening to I Am – It opens the set in Manchester and the recent album Dissonants. It has melody and enough frantic guitar and drum stuff for people to go bananas too. The live crowd were bouncing in unison to a song that is seemingly about not putting a band or a singer on a pedestal. The singer sings about  singers (and therefore maybe himself) having the power of influence over people through lyrics and how a lot of the time they are empty, hollow and won’t make any difference. By the end of the song the singer has convinced me “I am not the same, I won’t feed on fame…I will make a change it’s by my words and not my name.”

There is nothing wrong with demanding more from yourself and your peers, if their opening anthem is meant to engage with those down their watching from the floor, the band will make sure it’s genuine. Great opener, and the song that made me sit up and take notice.

Colourblind was next on the night and for some reason in that moment it felt like an old standard of theirs, I had no idea it came off their new album and I couldn’t hear any introduction it was given but just from the widespread acceptance in the room and the full on deep knowledge and love for it, I assumed it was an early track from an earlier album. I was wrong, it’s track three on their recent LP, so there you go. Musically it’s heavier than an angry elephant pissed off and hating its parents because it wasn’t allowed to trundle off to the circus. The heaviness might make you think it’s an angry song but it’s about acceptance and inclusion, no wonder the crowd had taken it as theirs so quickly.

Degrees of Seperation came at the half way point, it’s catchy and melodic and it seems to be about loneliness and missing people, something that a band from Australia currently in a cold and rainy Manchester might know plenty about.

The mosh pit at the Academy is by this point in full swing, or full mosh, if you will. My friend leans over to me and tells me that its infact pretty tame as mosh pits go, but as she talks I’m already figuring out a way of getting into it. It doesn’t happen though, for the rest of the night I have to be content with bouncing like a maniac by the sound/light desk.

Stillwater grabs me because it’s a bit slower than others, it doesn’t rise to the frantic blood pressure rising levels of some others but its relatively laid back stance works because you can pick out the singers words. This song seems to be about the innocence of childhood and how everything negative is learned and comes with age. How did we gain the world and lose the moment?

Momentary comes next in the set (and follows on the album too); it’s a lyrical high point of the concert for me but there’s some really nice guitar work cradling the words and a really good outro too. The words seem to be about how small we are in the grand scheme of things, a spark, a click, an echo, dust… it may come across somewhat bleak but the song is quite beautiful and uplifting; the view in the song is from someone wanting to make a mark and stop floating in the world.

Perspectives is the penultimate song of the live set and it is seemingly a song about not being understood, or not conveying your meaning correctly; All my life I’ve tried letting you inside, see the world through my eyes and I see is time I’ve wasted. It’s an unapologetic song and the frustration in the singer’s words comes across musically.

New Romantics is NOT about Duran Duran or any British 80’s band, I think its title comes from the poetry more than the hair bands BUT there is some bass and some keyboards that will grab anyone. On the surface it seems to be another song about someone trying to find themselves in their environment, with all the experience life gives a person. If you are looking for a screamy stompy moshy few minutes, this is the one and it’s an awesome choice to end a gig on. The whole crowd agreed.

There were songs from other albums performed too, but I wrote about the tracks from Dissonants because the seven here were the ones that compelled me to buy the studio album. I’ve not changed a word I wrote immediately after watching them live on a rainy Wednesday night in Manchester but having listened to the album in the two days since the concert I must say Division Symbols is a tune and Glasshouse is a piece of work and I couldn’t leave it out. I don’t know whether the song is about depression or anxiety but it rings those bells for me in the way the singer sings about storms, tides rolling in, and being trapped in darkness. You don’t have to be in the club to love the song, but if you know the feelings this song will speak to you.

All in all there’s a lot on Dissonants to pull you in. The album has songs of inclusion, isolation, longing for the past, longing for acceptance, wanting to be heard, being true to yourself and celebrating life. Hands Like Houses manage to present it all in a package that’s never too deep and dark, the stories on the album might be about struggles but listening to them is far from that.

If they seem like something that is outside your experience, trust me, they wont be as far as you think. If anything I’ve written here makes you think, give the songs a listen, they may speak to you. I’ll be seeing HLH live again and I look forward to it.

 

 

On the road again, armed with anthems, GTS catches up with the band and finds them sounding better than ever.

Read the rest of this entry »