Puppetman - Smokestack Skeleton

Melbourne rockers Puppetman are angry young men. As they themselves admit, they're not fired up enough to start a fight with a stranger in the street like a resident of Cronulla. But they are angry enough to independently produce 6 anthems of rage and antagonism, package it with some disturbing artwork, and send it out into the masses like a virus ready to take hold. And so we have Smokestack Skeletons.


Fuelled by big guitars, a perfectly raucous vocal and anger only Melbourne drivers can instil, Smokestack Skeletons is a bomb of unbridled resentment. Opening track D.T.M.S. is not unlike the experience of a car crash (without the scars and years of unpleasant physiotherapy). It's a driving monster that would have been at home on Smashing Pumpkins' Gish. Grandiose and apocalyptic in its approach, with pouring grunge guitars and a ferocious vocal, it's a perfect example of what Puppetman are all about.


The following TV On! opens on a lighter note, with catchy pop guitars and a Dandy Warhols-style vocal, before launching into a tirade of similar modern fury. Sickness Is A Sanctuary is equally manic. Built upon heavy bass lines and brilliantly creative percussion, it's a pretty dark piece of listening that got me wondering whether the members of Puppetman were hugged as children. Smiley Pad drives along with the same momentum, introducing slightly funkier guitars, and maintaining Aaron Shanahan's relentless vocal.


Curl Your Tongue is about as commercial as this four-piece get. Don't get me wrong… you're not going to hear it on Nova any time soon. But Triple J will no doubt give it a spin. It's simply a great rock song, thick with layered harmonies and melodic riffs.


Closing track Made In China is a return to what Puppetman know best. Loud driving guitars and more angry vocals, it closes Smokestack Skeletons with one last bad tempered tantrum of chaos.


Puppetman are capable of anything, as they have shown throughout the last ten years of gigs around Melbourne. They are a band that can produce the most varied of reactions from punters, all of which the band embrace. Their live shows are thrillingly unpredictable, and always driven by a recklessness of ‘in-the-moment' antics. Thankfully, this sort of passion is not lost on Smokestack Skeletons. It's a remarkably cohesive EP from a chaotic bunch of loons.

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