Push Puppets is the solo project of Chicago-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Erich Specht. This indie rock act offers well-crafted songwriting with hooks that are hard to shake and production that is awash in harmony and creative guitar firepower. The lyrical sensibilities of some of the heroes from his youth such as Paul Westerberg or Elvis Costello have clearly impacted Specht’s songwriting which is often brutally honest and always memorable.
The project’s first release, “A Living Experiment”, was met with critical acclaim and received airplay worldwide. The long awaited follow-up album titled “A Boat of Lies and a House or Cards” will be released on Friday, April 3rd and will be celebrated at with an album release show at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights, Illinois on Saturday, April 4th with a full band including bassist John WIlliam Lauler and drummer Greg Essig.
Specht has played guitar since the age of 5 and became interested in multitrack recording in middle school. He is a fan of artists like XTC and the Beatles who use the studio to develop pop songs that are without limits. Push Puppets is an ultimate DIY project which is self-produced in Specht’s home studio. On record, Erich performs all of the instruments except drums and horns. Drums were played by Chicago session ace Chris Morrow.
Erich has performed in various indie rock bands in the Chicago area such as The Likens and The Hundred Handed, both power trios that left room for his elegant guitar work. In late 2000s, Specht established himself as a solo artist under the pseudonym Push Puppets. The album “A Living Experiment” was released independently and was recognized for it’s parade of quirky pop songs and biting lyrics.
In 2020, Push Puppets is back with an epic collection of indie rock hits that take the listener through various takes on dysfunctional relationships that somehow leave the listener with a feeling of optimism despite challenges and heartbreak. Specht’s lyrics often tell of relationships, however in some cases the meaning of the songs can also be interpreted as being about the world around us.
Standouts from the new album “A Boat of Lies and a House of Cards” include the following:
“Part of the Plan” (Track 2)
This song of conflict resolution could be about either international conflict or a relationship and features the addictive chorus: “Reason doesn’t appear to be part of the problem / It’s part of the plan.”
“Wild Imagination” (Track 1)
Starting with the opening line, “Rise and shine this morning / pry my eyes wide open,” and continuing with imagery of sunlight, this song is well-suited to morning drive-time radio. The lyric tells of enlightenment after an out-of-body experience and a struggle to understand loss.
“Speak My Mind” (Track 3)
This up-tempo feelgood rocker is about the liberating feeling of finally being able to tell the world about a new relationship. The instrumental break features a guitar that is about to explode.
“Old News” (Track 4)
This upbeat Americana barn-burner wastes no time getting into the narrative of a blown opportunity for love with intent to remedy the situation. The song features sweet hooks and smoldering guitar solos reminiscent of Mark Knopfler.
“Will It to Happen” (Track 5)
This power pop hit wouldn’t be out of place on Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend” album. Undeterred by setbacks, this song has an upbeat message that is reflected in the bridge: “I thought that heaven would be bound by your embrace / Will it to happen / It falls into place.”
“Back to the Start” (Track 6)
This roots rock gem featuring Hammond organ and a horn section is about the USA moving backwards socially but is told via a lyric of about a troubled relationship.
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