VERIS – Single Review: “Devil in the Details”

Devil in the Details

Boston duo VERIS are quickly establishing themselves as one the most exciting new acts of 2017. Comprised of singer/songwriter/ guitarist AJ Edwards and songwriter/drummer Mark Hylander, VERIS released their fantastic debut single “Opening Night” in June, which I reviewed. Now they’re back with a seductive new single “Devil in the Details.

 

Veris

The song is darker and more musically complex than the bouncy, upbeat “Opening Night.” This time around, VERIS incorporates trap and hip-hop beats, as well as eerily beautiful synthesized instrumentals and altered vocals to create a mysterious and sultry track. The song opens with a gentle synth, then a throbbing bass line enters as AJ fervently sings of being unable to resist the temptress who has him spellbound with desire:

Pull me closer, lock the door and turn the lights off
I don’t want to dive in deeper, but you know I can’t give it up
Test the water, feel my way across your current
Swimming never came this easy, and I know I can’t give it up
You’re the devil in the details

Sexual tension builds as layers of soaring instruments are added along with a recurring shrieking otherworldly vocal that disturbs the rapturous mood, perhaps startling the singer back to reality? AJ’s vocals are backed by a deeper vocal in the chorus, adding to the overall sense of mystery. It’s an amazing song.

 

Follow Veris on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream their music on Spotify and Soundcloud, and purchase on iTunes

VERIS – Single Review: “Opening Night”

I love when I hear a song for the first time and am instantly hooked. Such was the case when I first listened to “Opening Night” by VERIS, after they reached out to me with their debut track. Hailing from Boston, VERIS is singer/songwriter/ guitarist AJ Edwards and songwriter/drummer Mark Hylander, and they’ve got one of the hottest feel-good songs of the summer! It’s a bouncy, catchy romp that aims straight for the hips, and even the dullest wallflower cannot escape its infectious dance beat. The instrumentals are first-rate, and AJ’s delightful vocals convey a strong sense of optimism that makes the track all the more enjoyable.

Veris
Photo by Elevin Studios

The exuberant track was written by Edwards and Hylander, and is essentially a love song about living life to the fullest, savoring every moment like it’s opening night:

Take a bow when the curtain rises.
We’re alive and living like it’s opening night. 
We live through dark and golden ages.
Break a leg on center stages like opening night.

“Opening Night” was produced by Bleu, engineered by Ducky Carlisle, mixed by David Spreng, Bleu & Ducky, and mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering, with assistance from Maria Rice. The lyric video was produced by Umesh Gallage, and features footage from a 30’s movie musical that I can’t identify, but is the perfect accompaniment to the track.

Follow Veris on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream “Opening Night” on Spotify and Soundcloud, and purchase on iTunes

KAZE – EP Review: “No Filter”

Being the EclecticMusicLover, it goes without saying that I’m fond of artists and bands whose music style is – well, eclectic. The Manchester, UK band KAZE certainly fits that description. Their sound is so varied and interesting that it’s pointless to try and categorize it into any particular genre. When listening to their debut EP No Filter, I hear elements of pop, folk, jazz, shoegaze, and even alternative rock – sometimes all in one song. They list Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, The Cardigans and Amy Winehouse as some of their main influences, but I also hear a bit of classic, old-school torch song vibe that gives their music a unique quality that makes for an incredibly pleasing and compelling listen.

KAZE

Formed by Graham McCusker and Amy Webber in February 2016, they chose the name KAZE because it means “wind” in Japanese – the interpretation of which they leave to their listeners. In addition to Amy on vocals and Graham on keyboards and backing vocals, the band line-up includes Thomas Fripp on guitar, Dan Peate on bass and Jonathan Needham on drums.

KAZE Band

They released No Filter in March 2017 with a sold out gig at The Castle in Manchester. The EP was produced by Colin Towns (Ivor Novello songwriting judge/BAFTA nominated composer), engineered by Toby Wood (Lord Of The Rings/associate EMMY Award winner) and mixed by Adriano Buffone (Kubb/Avicii/Jessie Ware).

The jazz-infused first single from the EP “Pinned On You” opens with a discordant mix of instruments, perfectly conveying the feelings expressed in the lyrics about having your life turned upside down by the realization that the person you love just doesn’t feel the same about you: “I pinned all my hopes on you, but just as I fell, you told me you’re not into me too. I pictured a life with you, but bright as you were, you just couldn’t come into me too.” Amy’s strong, impassioned vocals are backed by sharp percussion and a sturdy bass line that add power to the song’s message. The complex, nuanced instrumentals bring new surprises with each listen, and the jazzy piano riff and tasty electric guitar solo in the bridge are terrific.

Feel” sets a contrasting tone, with a lovely, contemplative piano melody and smooth instrumentals. Amy’s vocals are sublime, at one point sounding a bit like Barbra Streisand when her voice soars in the bridge. I especially love the backing chorus on this track. The band employs only an acoustic guitar on the poignant ballad “Unfamiliar Room.” With a hint of melancholy in her voice, Amy sings about the anxiety of undergoing potentially life-changing medical procedures: “Knowing looks and a brief smile. Waiting for news that won’t beguile. All shapes and sizes, some sad too soon, in this unfamiliar waiting room. Pressure digging in, jazz chords and they sing, while my body’s being screwed.” The song was inspired by Graham’s own experience with chemotherapy treatments.

Things turn upbeat on “Come Away,” a breezy song about leaving one’s problems behind and starting on a new life adventure with someone special: “Quit your job, pack your bag, are you ready for a life you’ve never had?  Grab your stuff and lock the door, we’re going somewhere you’ve never been before. Come away, come away, run away with me.”  KAZE expertly fuses pop, rock and jazz elements, all building to a fantastic crescendo at the end.

No Filter is a stellar debut effort, and I suspect we’ll be hearing more great music from KAZE in the near future.

Connect with KAZE:  Website /  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram

Stream their music:  Spotify /  Soundcloud

Purchase:  Bandcamp

SAM CLARK – Song Review: “Out of Reach”

Sam Clark is a talented and charismatic singer/songwriter/actor with a long list of professional accomplishments in TV, film and music. Born and raised in Australia, Sam is now based in Los Angeles, and has just released a terrific new single “Out of Reach,” along with a beautifully-filmed, heartwarming video.

According to his website bio, Sam rose to fame in Australia with his starring role in the long-running TV show Neighbours, for which he was nominated for several awards during the program’s 850+ episode run. He released a debut album Take Me Home in 2010, which generated two singles, “Broken” and “Devastated,” that garnered #1 spots on the ARIA Physical Singles Sales chart. A year later, he dropped the excellent five-track EP my own way…  Sam went on to star in his first feature film Mental, for which he also wrote and performed several original songs. After moving to Los Angeles he starred in the Emmy-winning FOX/Paramount production Grease: Live. He’s now in production on his next album with his Grammy award-winning songwriting partner Bill Grainer. “Out of Reach” is the first single from that album, which is planned for release later this year.

Sam Clark

“Out of Reach” is a lovely pop song about discovering you’re blessed with love you never thought you’d find. Sam explained his inspiration for the song: “I want my songs to be catchy without compromising their lyrical content. If I had to choose a single theme that runs through all my songs, it would be love.

Musically, the track has a catchy, upbeat melody, with crisp percussion and warm acoustic guitar throughout. Sam’s charming vocals are incredibly pleasing, and perfectly suited for the positive, heartfelt lyrics: “A hopeless dreamer but I’m wide awake. I never thought that it could feel this way. You are beyond my wildest disbelief. I always thought this kinda love was out of reach.

The delightful video was filmed by Carlos PenaVega and Giovanny Lago, and directed by David Del Rio. It shows Sam arriving home on the day of his birthday, only to be disappointed when he learns all of his friends and family are busy or unable to get together to celebrate with him. He then discovers a pair of hiking boots in a gift box, along with a note that starts him on a treasure hunt that ultimately leads him to a spot in the hills where his friends and girlfriend are waiting for him. Then he gets a big surprise when his parents show up, making him realize he has love in all its forms – romantic, friendship and family.

Both song and video left me feeling happy, and that all’s right with the world. And that’s something we can sure use a lot more of right now!

To learn more about Sam, check out his Website

Show him some love by following on:  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram

Stream his music:  Spotify /  Soundcloud

Purchase:  iTunes

Featured Song: JODY WHITESIDES – “Rise Up”

Jody Whitesides is a seasoned singer/songwriter who’s been making music for 20 years. We’ve followed one another on Twitter for quite some time, but I somehow missed that he’d released a powerful new protest song “Rise Up” on January 20, 2017 – the day Donald Trump was inaugurated President of the United States. Being a music blogger, I rarely make my political opinions known on this platform, however, I continue to be horrified on a daily basis that a cruel, narcissistic sociopath is our President, so Jody’s song resonated strongly with me. Plus, it’s a pretty good pop-rock tune from a musical standpoint.

Jody Whitesides

On his website, Jody eloquently explains his inspiration for “Rise Up”:

You might ask yourself why did I release it on Inauguration Day? Its a great question that has a real live answer.  I felt it my duty to call out the fact that the country has elected the wrong person. A person who claims to be for the “little” guy, but in reality is solely out for himself and his family. If there is one thing that I hope to achieve, it is to have people Rise Up against going backwards in this country. My desire is to see people gather and protest. To demonstrate. To call out the elected leaders to start doing their jobs rather than creating chaos.

Regardless of whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green Party, Tea party, whomever – you can put this song to use. In fact, I’d love to see you putting it into action. Share your photos and videos, of your using it for protest, with me on Instagram or Twitter. I’ll be happy to RT or share the love. Go forth and make use of your freedom, before you lose more of it. Enjoy it, sing it, share it!”

Song Lyrics:

Things took a turn ’bout an hour ago
We lost another freedom don’t you know
Is this what you meant – ignore evidence
Now we watch truth lay down to arrogance

No one will admit our elected leadership
Went an’ made everything such a mess
Has the land of the free
Forgot the home of the brave
And become scared to

Rise Up (Rise Up)
Rise Up defend your rights (defend your rights)
Rise Up (Rise Up)
Rise Up and win this fight (win this fight)
Rise Up

Take a look around what do you see
A snipe hunt being led by Wall Street Freaks
We know what you heard – all of the applause
That circus came to sell off all our laws

Rise Up (Rise Up)
Rise Up defend your rights (defend your rights)
Rise Up (Rise Up)
Rise Up and win this fight (win this fight)
Rise Up

Deregulation bad legislation
Corporations shouldn’t be diplomatic engines
Lightning rods for maneuvering fraud
Paint their path to heaven then act like gods
Moral turpitude conflicting attitudes
Clandestine video shows us who is lewd
Our education ain’t evil invention
Its a key to learning a needed lesson

Rise Up (Rise Up)
Rise Up defend your rights (defend your rights)
Rise Up (Rise Up)
Rise Up and win this fight (win this fight)
Rise Up (Rise Up)
Rise Up defend your rights (defend your rights)
Rise Up (Rise Up)
Rise Up and win this fight (win this fight)
Rise Up

Jody W performing

Here’s a bit of background on Jody’s extensive music career:

Born and raised in New York, Jody initially studied at Boston’s Berklee College, then went on to the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood. He now calls Park City, Utah home. He humorously refers to his sound as “A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears.” His considerable music output has been extremely eclectic, which is especially appealing for me, the EclecticMusicLover! At various points in his long career he’s recorded rock, folk, pop, psychedelic, funk and dance songs, handling all those genres quite well, actually.

His first album release was with his band AMALGAM in 1998, then he released a terrific rock/psychedelic/funk-infused solo album E.nergy A.udio R.evolution in 2000, followed by the folk rock-oriented Is This Considered Naked (love that title!) I recommend my readers take the time to check them out, as well as his later albums Initial Spank, A Natural Leap Forward and Practical Insanity. In 2010, he recorded a sports anthem “Do You Want to Play,” along with remixes of the song for every NFL, MLB, NHL and WNBA team! More recently, prior to recording “Rise Up,” Jody recorded the fun psychedelia/hip hop-tinged dance single “Touch” in 2015, and the soulful dance-pop single “Thump Thump Thump” in 2016.

To learn more about Jody, check out his website.
Connect with him:  Facebook / Twitter /  Instagram
Stream his music:  Spotify /  Soundcloud /  YouTube
Purchase:  iTunes

Song Review: MAD MACHINES – “Once I Was a Lion”

Mad Machines is a five-piece band based in Toronto, Canada. Their high-energy music melds elements of Hard Rock, Funk, Punk-Noir and Dream Pop – with a bit of Disco thrown in just to mix things up – and their lyrics are always entertaining. They released an excellent debut EP Re-Humanizer in January 2016 (which I highly recommend my readers check out), and in March dropped a fun new single “Once I Was A Lion.

Mad Machines

The band line-up includes Jordan Lassalle (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Raymond Cara (Drums, Percussives, Backing Vocals), Jordan Quinn (Keyboards, FX, Backing Vocals), Neil Culbert (Guitars, Backing Vocals) and Joseph Slegtenhorst (Bass).

Regarding the backstory for the song, Lassalle explained: “Once I Was A Lion is a strange departure of a song for us; it was actually initially inspired by Disney’s The Lion King. I woke up one day with one of the songs from that film in my head and it got me to thinking something along the lines of, ‘what if Simba turned out to be a fuck-up drunkard of a king? Wouldn’t that be funny!’ Since then, the song has evolved; I found myself also writing a reflection piece on how at some point or another, we all feel like kings and queens of our respective kingdoms. It’s a feel-good tune and a real fun pop-rocker to play.

Indeed it would be, as it’s all that and more. The infectiously catchy song kicks off with a distorted guitar solo, then things bust wide open with crashing drums, heavy buzzing bass and lots of killer bluesy riffs. The guys are terrific musicians! Lassalle’s vocals are wonderful, occasionally soaring into a pleasing falsetto, and backed by his band mates’ harmonizing choruses. He croons the tongue-in-cheek lyrics that can’t help but put a big smile on your face:

Once I was a lion, yeah once I was king, crushing my problems between my teeth. Ruler of my kingdom with an iron paw. Rolling through the jungle like an atom bomb. All the lady lions used to stop and stare, hoping I would try and take ’em to my lair. Once I was a lion and life was sweet, until she came and took that crown away from me. / They took my fangs, they took my claws. / And I’m the king of the jungle baby. At least I was before.

Listen to “Once I Was A Lion” here:  Soundcloud

Connect with Mad Machines:  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram

Purchase their music on Bandcamp

EP Review: RUN WITH IT – “How to Start a Fire”

Run With It is one of the hardest-working bands I know. The Kansas City three-piece has been touring and gigging throughout the Midwest, East Coast and Southern U.S. nearly non-stop since Summer 2016 – even playing a concert at Doha Air Force Base in Qatar! – yet somehow managed to also record a superb new EP How to Start a Fire, which dropped on March 24. I’ve been following them for quite a while, and featured them on this blog in February 2016. The band recently signed with the Southern Valley Record label, and I’m thrilled to see their star grow.

Making the music are Miguel Caraballo on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Ben Byard on Bass and Backing Vocals, and Daniel Cole on Drums. (Ben replaced Clint Velazquez who left the band last September to devote his full attention to his Base Academy of Music.) They play accessible pop-rock that draws influences from rock’n’roll, alternative rock, R&B, folk and even a bit of blues. Their song lyrics touch on oft-covered themes of life, love, and relationships, as well as the struggle to find one’s own truth and way in the world.

Run With It
Photo by Chris Mullins Photography

The EP opens strong with the gorgeous rock song “I Need a Light,” which was released as the first single. The track’s arrangement and production values are perfect, and together the dynamic instrumentals and strong vocals create an incredibly tight, compelling song. Musically, the song begins with a lovely piano riff that continues on and off throughout the track, then heavy bass, thunderous percussion and dreamlike synths take over, accompanied by intricate guitar work. Miguel’s impassioned vocals rise and fall with the music’s intensity, and the powerful guitar solo toward the end gives me goosebumps every time.

The emotionally hard-hitting lyrics speak to feeling lost and alone, in search of a path forward and someone who can be counted on: “I need a light so bright that the sun seems dim. I need something that will not fade. Held tight like the hand of a friend. I need someone that won’t runaway.

I love this song, which has spent 15 consecutive weeks on my Weekly Top 20 Chart.

On the pleasing track “Don’t Waste My Time,” the guys skillfully mesh delicate circular piano movements with a lovely guitar riff.  I’m impressed by the generous use of the piano in their music, giving it a fuller, highly melodic sound. Also, some of their songs have an anthemic quality, with complex, layered instrumentals and soaring choruses. A good example is “Time,” a track with beautiful music that contrasts with biting lyrics about how the passage of time can be cruel: “Time, she’s a liar, a thief. Her teeth in my flesh, How do I get free. Blood, the taste in my mouth. Her bloody fist, gonna knock me out.” Another is “One More Fight,” an uplifting song with a sweeping melody and some terrific bluesy guitar riffs, not to mention Miguel’s heartfelt vocals.

Move On” speaks to letting go of a failed relationship and moving on. Again, beguiling piano, layered guitars and just the right amount of percussion make this a great track.  The infectiously upbeat “On Your Own” has a bit of a folk-rock vibe, with robust acoustic and electric guitars, and Miguel’s earnest vocals expressing the hopeful lyrics: “There’s a song deep in your heart. It’s like a raging lion is gonna tear you apart.”

How to Start a Fire is a well-crafted EP with six solid tracks, and I look forward to hearing more from these busy guys. They’ve already begun working on new music for us fans to enjoy.

To learn more about Run With It, check out their website and follow on Twitter /  Facebook /  Instagram. Watch their videos and vlogs on their YouTube channel.

Stream How to Start a Fire on Spotify and purchase on iTunes.

EP Review: THE PUSS PUSS BAND

Today I shine my spotlight on a singer/songwriter duo that goes by the fun, quirky name The Puss Puss Band.  They are multi instrumentalists Asa Galeozzie and Lee Pugh, a mainly studio based band from South Wales. Both have worked with numerous artists and bands in the UK and the Welsh music industry over the last ten years as writers & session musicians. They perform every aspect of their music: songwriting, instrumentals, vocals, arranging, engineering, producing and mixing. Asa plays guitar, bass, percussion, piano and melodica, while Lee plays lead guitar, bass and piano. The guys also have a sense of humor; on their Soundcloud page, they state that Asa plays tap shoes and Lee the mouth trumpet.

They released their debut self-titled EP The Puss Puss Band in October, and it features four outstanding tunes in a style the guys refer to as ‘jazz rock pop chill sounds.’ Their easy-going instrumentals and smooth vocals make for an incredibly pleasing listening experience – sort of a Style Council meets England Dan & John Ford Coley with just a touch of Dan Fogelberg. All those artists made really terrific music, and I think The Puss Puss Band’s music is in the same league.

The first track is the rather sexy “Feline Fine.” Sublime guitars and snare drum create a mellow vibe, and Lee’s beguiling vocals almost purr: “You got me working double time, you got me clocking overtime, you got me feline fine. And I know I can’t show you the things that I see, but sometimes I wish I could. Because you got something that makes me feel glad at night. And you got everything because you know you’re right.”  This is my favorite track on the EP.

The lovely ballad “Thinking of You” continues the mellow groove, but with a bittersweet edge. Its heartfelt lyrics speak about missing someone very deeply, and hoping they’re feeling the same about you. “I just wish that you could see, all the love for you I feel. But I’m descending in all this gloom. My heart free-falling like a lead balloon. Without you.” The guitars are especially nice on this track.

Alone” is a catchy, upbeat track with great chiming guitar riffs and Lee and Asa’s smooth intertwining vocal harmonies. The guys really channel the Style Council on this song. The pace slows back down to a dreamy haze with the enchanting folk-infused ballad “Perfect World.” Guest musician Patrick McDermott lays down some lovely banjo riffs over the guys’ laid back guitars.

The guys also recorded a great cover of The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” a while back. Take a listen:

I love their smooth sound and am anxious to hear more music from these guys. Support The Puss Puss Band by following on Twitter and subscribing to their YouTube channel. Stream their music on Soundcloud, or purchase on Bandcamp.

Album Review: A BLUE FLAME – “What We’ve Become is All That Now Remains”

British singer/songwriter Richard Stone – who goes by the artistic name A Blue Flame – doesn’t consider himself a musician, but rather a compulsive writer of songs who also happens to play the guitar. For him, the song lyric is supreme, not the music or sound. On his album, What We’ve Become is All That Now Remains, he tells compelling stories using straightforward lyrics about life, love, faith, loss and heartbreak. And though he’s not as concerned about the music or sound of his songs, I think they’re superb, representing an amazingly eclectic range of styles from doo-wop and old-school pop to easy listening ballads and hard-driving rock.  Plus, his smooth, clear vocals perfectly suit his thoughtful lyrics.

When I asked Stone about his artistic name, he explained that ‘A Blue Flame’ just came to him, but he also liked “the balance in the name between the heat of a flame and the sadness of feeling blue. Blue flames are the hottest of all flames and they are also linked with strange, other worldly experiences like will o’ the wisps. It’s a name of contradictions between the scientific and paranormal, just like my music is a mass of contradictory influences.”  He said his songwriting has been influenced by some of the great songwriters such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles, but essentially any great song from one of any number of artists.

Stone writes all his songs and plays guitar. He arranges them with help from Adam Ellis, who co-produces and also plays guitar.  Other session musicians add their skills to the mix as needed, including Damon Claridge on drums, Andy Robertson on bass and keyboards, and Tony Robinson (who’s also played with the Manic Street Preachers and The Beautiful South, among other bands) on keyboards and horns.

a-blue-flame

The passage of time and the challenge of keeping the faith – both in God and yourself – are recurring subjects in A Blue Flame’s songs. The album opens with the sublime track “When Time Slowed Down.”  The song features beautiful piano, gentle guitar and snare drum, along with a captivating trumpet solo. With a hint of sadness in his voice, Stone wistfully sings of the fleeting nature of time, and the need to stop and savor the precious moments: “When all is said and done, and we’re just words upon a page inside a book that never opens / How will we be found?  We lucked out, the year we found the days when time slowed down.

Time’s passage is again alluded to on the tracks “Our Memories Fade” and the anthemic “Everyday Yesterday,” where an upbeat melody belies a deeper meaning: “Everyday, yesterday gets further away. I was born for the ninth time, a fool amongst the fools. Running in the nighttime and breaking all the rules. Till I saw I was the dullest stone in a box of golden jewels. It was clear that I knew nothing and my promises were cruel.

Stone plaintively urges self-belief and acceptance in the bittersweet ballad “Be Kind to Yourself” – “You know that your hate is a weakness, you know that you need to be brave. You’re scared of that something inside you that cries in the night to be safe” – and in the edgy, hard-rocking “I Don’t Know,” where Stone’s raw vocals seem to channel an exasperated Billy Joel. In “Feeling the Same,” he expresses empathy for someone feeling lost and alone with their pain and self-doubt.

Faith in God is questioned in the rousing “From God on Down.” Stone defiantly proclaims “I have been here a billion years, and I am so tired. I may, I may not exist. You might believe, you may well laugh. We’re all in the dark, from God on down.”  So too with the catchy pop-rock track “Out There Somewhere.”  Love and loss are the theme of the wonderful but rather mournful doo-wop tune “The Sun Refused to Shine.” The guitar solo in the last third of the song is great.

One of my favorite tracks is “Marlborough Park Avenue,” a poignant tune that calls to mind the incredible storied lyrics and singing style of Harry Chapin. To a gorgeous arrangement with gentle percussion, violin and multi-textured guitars that swirl, twang and chime, Stone fervently sings of a lost loved one “Though you’re not here, you still hold me together. The blossom is swimming around me / I think I’m in heaven.  I wish you were walking beside me, but you’ve gone on ahead.

Another standout is the hard-hitting kiss-off “The Girl Inside of You.” As with some of the other songs on the album, the upbeat, high-energy music – complete with “sha la la la, ooh sha la la las” – contrasts sharply with the fiery lyrics. Stone practically spits the lines “Rain falls down from a cloudless sky / I look up and I wonder why / It seems strange to me / It’s a motherfucking mystery / Farewell from the boy in me, who so fell for the girl inside of you.

What We’ve Become is All That Now Remains is an album that keeps getting better with each listen, as the poetic beauty of the lyrics continues to sink in. Learn more about A Blue Flame by checking out his website. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and stream his music on Spotify and Soundcloud. His music is available for purchase on CD Baby.

EP Review: Puppet Theory – “Buttons”

British Indie pop/rock foursome Puppet Theory is the latest band to emerge from the vibrant Manchester music scene.  They bring a fresh approach to their music, fusing old-school Brit-pop/rock with punk and alternative influences.  On September 21, they dropped their debut EP Buttons – a collection of four infectious, high-energy songs guaranteed to put you in a good mood and make you dance around like –  well, a puppet on a string!

I first learned of Puppet Theory when they followed me on Twitter a few days ago and, given their fun, upbeat music and sense of humor, I’m already a big fan.  On their website, they state “Puppet Theory have the perfect blend of UK influences, consisting of 2 Mancunians, a Scouser and a Southerner whose energy, edginess and musical expertise work together to create an unforgettable set.” For those of us non-Brits, a ‘Mancunian’ is a person from Manchester and a ‘Scouser’ is from Liverpool.  In their Facebook bio, they identify themselves as follows:  Johnny – Little strings and sings;  Chris – Little strings and sings;  Niall – Big strings;  Paul – Hits things.  How endearing is that?

Puppet Theory began life when Johnny and Paul started jamming together, feeling an instant connection. Knowing they needed a strong vocalist/lyricist who could serve as band front man, they held auditions and enlisted Chris after he impressed them with his songwriting ideas. Finally, after auditioning four other bassists, they were blown away by Niall’s playing and signed him on the spot, completing the band line-up.  They’re thrilled to now have their first EP out so music junkies like me can enjoy their music.

puppet-theory

The first track, “Young & Youthful,” immediately hooks you with an irresistibly catchy melody, though the poignant lyrics speak to anxiety over transitioning from youth to adulthood. The song bursts open with shredded guitars and pounding drums, led by a buzzing bassline. Another guitar riff is introduced, intertwining with the shredded guitars, and Chris plaintively sings: “When did we get old? Someone should have told me that I  don’t know what it is all about. Give me some time to figure it out. I’ll get there.”

Pulsating guitars, strong bass and Paul’s assertive drums – accentuated by lots of crashing cymbals – highlight the catchy title track “Buttons.” The strong third track “Room to Breathe” has a distinct Foo Fighters vibe, most noticeable in the excellent main guitar riff. The final track “Do You Know” treats us to more awesome blistering guitars and dynamic percussion that appear to be a hallmark of Puppet Theory’s sound.  The song seems to end at 4:30, then starts up again with a dramatic guitar solo that’s a sped up version of the main song riff for another 30 seconds. Interestingly, the band is the third that I’ve reviewed over the past month or so to utilize this stop and start up again technique in a song.

All in all, Buttons is a strong debut for Puppet Theory, who I think have a promising future, given not only their talent, but their strong chemistry and charisma.  Show them support by checking out their Website, following them on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Stream Buttons on Spotify or purchase on iTunes.