Category Archives: Manchester Music

One Little Room – elbow and the seldom seen kid

The Seldom Seen Kid album will go down as a moment. A moment when critical acclaim and the eyes of the world found them. Their journey from Asleep in the Back through Leaders of the Free World was full of ups and downs and anyone listening since day one will know they always have the songs. The question was never about whether they could deliver, they always could, and they always had people by the ears and the hearts, they carried on despite, and sometimes fuelled by what was happening to them.

A lot of the album was written while the band had no record deal, after the collapse of V2. They were creating without knowing whether any of it would ever be heard outside of the elbow bubble. Guy Garvey said in 2009, “when we were doing the initial bit of writing for this record, we kind of knew our record deal was at an end and we didn’t have a new one. We didn’t know how we were going to sort out all the legal stuff”

The album contains reactions to love, death and friendship and there is as always a beautiful sense of place in the songs featured.

Bands sometimes sell out a little and depart from their core ideas to have the sort of success elbow had with Seldom. Elbow never did, they wrote here about the same things they were writing about in their debut, their debut that was lest we forget, nominated for a Mercury music award. They won that award for this album, and never lost what was important to them.

The Seldom Seen Kid is the result of a band with their backs to the wall, again, and it is creation that comes with cost.

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Turning New Pages

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.

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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.

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The Rebellion Is Ready

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.


Puppet Rebellion are all that you want and need!

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

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Is There Life In Marr?

Johnny’s The Messenger LP in the spotlight.

IJohnny 4 Small_zpsz9llkvxv.jpgt took a while for Johnny Marr to ‘go solo’ and I get a sense that it was something that finally happened rather than this being what the world was waiting for. As it happens, the world has had Johnny in all kinds of forms already even if we didn’t always know; he plays a rather classy bit of guitar on a Girls Aloud song or two, plays in this band and plays that riff on that song you like from that fella who did that album once upon a time. He also grabbed the blonde fella from the band Joy Division never were and we all got the message, he’s been everywhere man, and very nearly a Happy Monday too.

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