feature: check out the larger than life alt rock of puppet radio’s ‘789’ #soundcheck

June 25, 2014

Alternative rock may be many things, but it’s rarely bombastic. The conventional narrative, is that alt rock was forged as a modest response to the bombast of 80’s rock. But for Puppet Radio, the sounds of alt rock are a playground for their larger-than-life rock god aspirations.

Words by Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

On their debut full length 789, the quintet mixes the sounds of 90’s alternative heroes like Placebo and the less-cool-but-more-well-known Fuel (say what you will, I love both 90’s bands named Fuel in very different ways) with stadium worthy vocal and guitar heroics. Despite the relatively low-key poppy opener “China Glass,” the band quickly launches into “I’ll Wait,” an explosive single anchored by singer AhSa-Ti Nu’s stratospheric wail. “Be The Change” adds some social consciousness (and alternative metal, for good measure) into the mix. With a chorus of “be the change you want to see,” the band echoes a major slogan of many of the progressive movements of recent years.

The tension between the mid-tempos and acoustic guitars and the prog solos and stadium filling vocals is compelling more often than not, though there are moments when it feels like the album would benefit from a few softer, more nuanced moments. Nevertheless, the band’s operatic ballads are some of the album’s best songs. The massive “Toil” ends with a wailing guitar competing with an exquisite string arrangement. It’s in that moment that the tension between the mellow and beautiful and the explosive creates something truly magical.