Puppet Strings Review

artist: Fuel date: 03/21/2014 category: compact discs
Fuel: Puppet Strings
Released: Mar 4, 2014
Genre: Post-Grunge, Alternative Rock, Hard Rock
Label: MegaForce Records
Number Of Tracks: 10
After Fuel re-formed with the original vocalist and otherwise all new members, they recorded "Puppet Strings" to show us what they can do.
 Sound: 7.3
 Lyrics: 7.3
 Overall Impression: 7
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reviews (3) pictures (1) 6 comments vote for this album:
overall: 6.3
Puppet Strings Featured review by: UG Team, on march 11, 2014
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Brett Scallions left Fuel in 2006 for reasons that were never made public, and then soon after the band recorded one more album then went on an extended hiatus, or they disbanded, depending on the source you check. In the meantime, Brett decided to start using the Fuel moniker again and recruited new musicians to tour with starting in 2010, and finally got around to recording a new album. Gotta give Brett his props, though, as he did address the issue with the lineup in a fairly straightforward manner, basically saying in multiple interviews that there can ever only be one original lineup and there have been changes to the lineup for years and he isn't trying to recapture that or diminish the original lineup - he basically just wants to continue making music, thus we get a new Fuel album. Two songs were released before the album. "Yeah!" was released in December 2013 as an album "teaser," and free to download. The first single from the album was "Soul to Preach To," which was released in January 2014. The album contains 10 tracks with an approximate runtime of just a little over 40 minutes. 

The album starts out with the track "Yeah!," which has a kind of blues rock "romp" feel to it, though the blues is more subtle. "Soul to Preach To" has a little bit more going on in the way of a more interesting main riff, a more interesting bass line, and some more thought out use of volume dynamics (using that quiet/loud thing really well). "Hey, Mama" kinds of takes what I was saying about "Yeah!" being a blues rock romp, but it does it this time without the blues aspect sounding very subtle. "Time for Me to Stop" is a little bit heavier than the rest of the album has been up to this point, and sounds more like a hard rock party song. "Wander" seems to be more of a slow melancholy, slow foot-tapping track - but there is a slightly built up section, but still a pretty laid back track, even at its heaviest. "Cold Summer" is a riff-centric hard rock song, and is pretty much straight forward with it. "I Can See the Sun" is another song on the album trying to sound lighter, or more laid back, or possibly just more emotional. I just wasn't feeling this track. Next up is "Puppet Strings" which features Robbie Krieger (of The Doors) on the track, and the blues sound is back strong again on this track. The guitar work on "Puppet Strings" is really impressive but the song in itself isn't necessarily memorable. The most interesting guitar solo from the album is definitely the solo from "Puppet Strings," however. "Headache" is another of the heavier songs on the album, which even at its heaviest doesn't seem to have the punch I was waiting for. It isn't a bad song, but this definitely isn't the Fuel of back in the day. "What We Can Never Have" closes the album out, and is an acoustic song which oddly enough is mixed much lower than the rest of the album and I had to pull my volume up when this track started. The song gets a good deal heavier (and louder) going into the last third of the track. All in all, it is a good song to close the album out on, but it could definitely have done without the huge difference in volume. I found myself enjoying the guitar solos on this album. They aren't super fancy, and they're not even extremely memorable - but they are solid and well done in the context of the rock songs they are in. // 7

Lyrics: Brett Scallions was always a respectable hard rock vocalist, and as the blues influences in the band have become more prominent, at times, his vocals have adjusted well to that style. He may never be considered one of the best vocalists in rock music, but he is one of the many competent rock vocalists who approach what they do as a craft. While the vocals are solid, the lyrics seem to be pretty spotty. Some of them are really well written and other passages just seem like they were thrown together. Here is a sample of the lyrics from the track "Yeah!": "I feel a long haired lady in a dress/ send a message streaming right up my back/ this situation means something's up for nothing/ just as long as the rules are made all in advance/ I feel the passion of your actions/ leave me something more here/ if you want it all from me/ just ask me one more time/ I'll say yeah/ here it goes baby." These aren't the best lyrics ever written, and the part about a message "streaming right up" his back makes it sound like he is into some weird stuff. // 6

Overall Impression: I like Robbie Krieger a lot - he is probably on my top ten favorite guitarists - definitely on my top twenty list. I liked what he did on the track, "Puppet Strings." I enjoyed the album in a "background noise" type of way as long as I didn't listen to the lyrics too closely or expect too much from the album. Brett was right to point out that this isn't even remotely the original lineup, because they definitely lost something at some point. My favorite track on the album is "Puppet Strings" because of Robbie Krieger's part, and then my next favorite would have been "What We Can Never Have" if the levels weren't so off. My least favorite track from the album would be "Yeah!". I just couldn't get past the lyrics. // 6

- Brandon East (c) 2014

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overall: 7.3
Puppet Strings Reviewed by: 99even, on march 20, 2014
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: FUEL made it big in 1996 when "Shimmer" hit radio stations nationwide. They gained momentum on the airwaves and, in 1998, FUEL released their debut album Sunburn. In 2000, FUEL increased their following by releasing their sophomore effort Something Like Human. This album helped FUEL reach certified double-platinum status. Fuel entered the studio again in 2003 to assemble their third record Natural Selection. Natural Selection was not as well-received and the band began to falter.

Drummer Kevin Miller was ousted in 2004 and then, singer/guitarist Brett Scallions split in 2006 when guitarist/songwriter Carl Bell denied Scallions creative input. Bell held on to Fuel and Tommy Stewart (Godsmack) and Chris Daughtry (American Idol) were chosen by Bell to fill the spots left vacant. Daughtry declined and Stewart had prior commitments. Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) and Josh Freese (The Vandals, Nine Inch Nails, Devo etc. Fill-in) assisted Bell in recording a new album for 2007. Toryn Green (Something to Burn) was announced as Scallions' replacement in early 2007 and Angels & Devils was released in August of that year but failed to exceed expectations of surpassing Natural Selection sales.

Scallions began touring in 2010 with multiple musicians under the name Re-Fueled. Collaborations with Krieger, Yogi Lonich, Ken Schalk, and Brian Keeling, along with constant members Andy Andersson, Brad Stewart, and Shannon Boone allowed Scallions to envision a new Fuel. He and his fellow bandmates worked vigorously for four years to create an outline for an eventual new Fuel album. On March 4, 2014, Puppet Strings was released. // 7

Lyrics: 1. "Yeah!" - This thunderous groove blasts "Puppet Strings" off the launchpad and will appeal to fans of southern rock. Modernized bluesy riffs are hammered throughout this tune and give you a good idea of what is in store for the rest of this album. Played live, this song would invite crowd participation. Scallions declares, "If you want it all from me, Just ask me one more time - I'll say YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! You know I'll say YEAH! (YEAH!)

2. "Soul to Preach To" - This song is the first single from "Puppet Strings." Fuel continues to broaden their horizons here with a gritty acoustic riff pattern and some crunchy electric guitar licks as well that stay on the southern rock path. The bridge of the song is particularly gloomy. It has that dark, howling guitar accompaniment Fuel has previously showcased, along with the lines: "Can't you see the dead's alive? - Read the blood between the lines and I'll be there - Can't you feel me petrified? - Pull me in and show reality for me is only just a dream."

3. "Hey Mama" - Fuel gives us yet another song with southern-rock roots. An acoustic guitar with a tremendous amount of twang rings throughout the track. The use of a slide also comes into play which is unconventional compared to previous Fuel songs. There is significant country influence present on this track. If Scallions' vocals were snipped from this song, it would be reminiscent of The Black Crowes. There are plenty of unique riffs, but the lyrics remain simple and uncomplicated: "Hey Mama, won't you give a little bit of your time to me? - 'Cuz I've been standing here for so long, waiting for your love to cover me."

4. "Time for Me to Stop" - Scallions resurrects the "Sunburn" era with this electrifying anthem. Loud, quick riffs lash out and keep the throttle floored. Also, uncanny of previous Fuel outings, this song has an explicit line: "But I never seem to get my f--king story straight - How could I possibly, with all the lies put on display?" Another particular line that reveals Scallions' compelling writing abilities goes: "I'm not the kind of monster I appear to be - My moves tell the story just like I want you to see."

5. "Wander" - This track slows the pace of the album. Much like "Soul to Preach To," this chorus is basically a two-liner: "As you wander through the world - Just carry all the words to heart." This one is relatively mellow but contains some unorthodox lyrics: "Even though your house is made of stone, The wolves will still get in." The same sound Fuel composed on "Natural Selection" lies just beneath the surface of this particular number. 

6. "Cold Summer" - Brett Scallions has stated that this song was written in the early 2000's but was never recorded as he was not entirely sure he liked the song well enough. "Puppet Strings" producer, Eddie Wohl, heard Scallions play the tune and elected to include it on the album. If "Cold Summer" could have been recorded around the "Something Like Human" era, it would have certainly made the cut. This song is truly a testament to Scallions' talent as a musician and songwriter: "The tethered lines fell down on me - Crushed and despised from you - The future for us seems so bleak - But I fight for that, too."

7. "I Can See The Sun" - This ballad sounds familiar to the Fuel of old. Fans of "Natural Selection" will appreciate this song because it maintains a slow, melodic pattern from start to finish. On the surface, the chorus is relatively soft and soothing. But, Scallions' choice of lyrics have a deeper meaning: "It's been too long since I found love - Let me raise you up from here - Because I love this more than all those lonely years… And I can see the sun in you."

8. "Puppet Strings" - In early 2013, Fuel posted a handful of videos on the web, taking the viewer behind the scenes into the studio where they laid down the guitar, drums, and vocals. Robby Krieger makes a special guest appearance on this track and his contribution adds yet another new element to the sound of Fuel. The structure of this song is quite different from what Fuel has offered in the past. "It's not enough to care - It's not enough to know me - If you could only give me something - I'd be your everything" may sound cliche, but this is a genuine rock song.

9. "Headache" - Multiple versions of the 2010-2014 Fuel lineup performed this song throughout their small tours and fan videos of the song started surfacing on the internet back in 2011. The rapid drumming, thrashing guitar riffs, and raspy vocals raise the intensity of this album to its peak. It could easily be considered the hardest hitting song on "Puppet Strings" with a fierce chorus: "Headache! Heartache! Run away from everything! - Headache! Heartache! Headache! Run away from everything! Headache!

10. "What We Can Never Have" - The first 60 seconds of this song are eerie. An acoustic guitar keeps rhythm while an electric guitar howls and weeps in the hollow background. This song manifests an Old West-style atmosphere and the lyrics that flow along with it are ghostly. "Locked inside the dark I have a secret buried deep - I wish that I could tell you but it's forever mine to keep" is just the beginning. The chorus sneaks in at roughly two and a half minutes and leads into a smashing outro as Scallions wails "But I'll always love what we had - And I'll always miss what we had - But we always love what we can never have." // 8

Overall Impression: "Puppet Strings" was a group effort of all musicians involved and there are plenty of surprises in store for fans who are accustomed to previous Fuel outings. While Brett has revived some of the sound Fuel became known for from the early-to-mid 2000's, he adds his own unique style to "Puppet Strings" which will allow for future Scallions-led Fuel albums to be even more creative and daring. Scallions proves that his imaginative input is valuable and that Fuel still has the ability to extend their fanbase even farther. All former members were a large part of Fuel's success, but Scallions, Andersson, Stewart, and Boone have breathed new life into a dying genre of rock. The innovative rock sound of the late '90s and early 2000's has rarely been replicated in recent years. If you don't find the album impressive, you will at least find it nostalgic. // 7

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overall: 8
Puppet Strings Reviewed by: sls.strausbaugh, on march 21, 2014
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The new sound is pretty killer. I am digging the throwback to classic rock with "Puppet Strings," "Yeah!," "Headache," and especially "Hey Mama." It fuses classic/blues roots with modern rock and it wins all the way. New guitarist Andy Andersson totally rips some sweet solos and really adds a nice flavor to the mix. One complaint, although pretty cool, Andy abuses one lick in particular in literally four solos (if you listen you will know which I mean). The bass is solid, no complaints but I feel that the drums were lost a little in the final mix. // 8

Lyrics: Let's just start with saying how thrilled I am to have Brett Scallions back as the frontman for Fuel. I have been waiting for this for too many years! Having said that, he does a decent job in his return. The raspy growl is mostly gone (which I loved) so he actually has to sing some of the high notes this time around. He does an impressive throughout the entire album and some of his other signature sounds can still heard. One exception is "I Can See the Sun" for I feel that the higher notes in the chorus are a little bit of a stretch. Overall I think his singing kicks some ass once again.

The lyrics are decent, nothing too profound going on here. "Soul to Preach To," "Wander," and "What We Can Never Have" are the standouts. This is an in your face rock record for the most part, saving the sentiments for the select slower songs. // 8

Overall Impression: This album is refreshing and ass kicking. It jams, it grooves, it rocks, and it feels. Brett Scallions is back and it never felt so right. The new band members do a fantastic job in the meshing of new sounds and this album really jumps out and rocks you. My favorite tracks thus far are "Soul to Preach To," "Cold Summer," and "Hey Mama." I believe this could be their second greatest album, only behind "Something Like Human," in my opinion. I really dig this new sound that they have going yet they still manage to preserve some classic Fuel sounds. I am looking forward to more music from these guys. // 8

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