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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds take flight on debut disc

Sour Mash Records
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
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CD REVIEW: Noel Gallagher’s High
Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High
Flying Birds
 (Sour Mash Records)  2011

In the two years since Oasis broke up, following one final
brotherly battle between singer Liam and guitarist Noel Gallagher, we have seen
Liam form the punchy little rock band Beady Eye with the remaining members of
Oasis, while older brother Noel, now 44, went out on his own to do his own solo
project – the 10-track Noel Gallagher’s
High Flying Birds
.

We dug Beady Eye’s debut disc, Different Gear, Still Speeding, where the influences were pretty
obvious – “Beatles and Stones,” anyone? – but Noel Gallagher is looking at
incorporating more sounds, different sounds in his music and the results really
soar at times.

I guess it goes without saying that Noel was always
considered the more thoughtful and creative brother in Oasis. He wrote some of
the best Oasis tracks and on the High Flying Birds debut disc, recorded in L.A.
and London (including Abbey Road, appropriately enough) we get an Oasis-esque
anthem called “Everybody’s On the Run,” complete with ethereal backing vocals
and airy keyboard sounds. A solid start to the disc.

With a triumphant acoustic sound, complete with trombone, “Dream
On” takes on the Kinks-styled suburban observations and brings it under a
microscope with the line, “One day at a
time / I’m hiding from the razor blade / Handing in the kitchen / the kids
outside have drunk up all their lemonade / The bitch keeps bitching’n’all
.”
Sounds vaguely grim.

But there’s sunnier and more optimistic fare here,
particularly on “(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine.” Gallagher’s
vocals, accompanied by the Sgt. Pepper-y
guitars and dreamy orchestration gives it a psychedelic-lite feeling that is
quite welcome to these ears.

“AKA … What a Life!” has plenty of energy, it’s just lacking
a chorus beyond Gallagher repeating the line “what a life.” This track strikes
me as an idea that wasn’t fully flushed out.

But Noel holds things together on more jangly, conventional
tracks like “AKA … Broken Arrow,” with more confident vocals from Noel along
with eerie, outer-spacey, Mellotron-like flourishes that would make Brian Jones
smile from the great beyond.

And one of my favorites is a seven-year old Oasis song that
was never released called “Stop the Clocks.” Redone here, Gallagher’s song has
a certain understated majesty that has a minor freakout at the end. Dig!

Better, though, is “Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks,” with its
horns and melancholy vibe and more topical lyrics about war and religious
hypocrites – “And all around the world
the holy men will twist the words of way back when …
” When you get to know
Gallagher and his beliefs about a lot of things – he’s a fan of David Icke,
after all – these sorts of songs make sense, at least lyrically speaking.

“If I Had a Gun” has that moody acoustic guitar intro that
brings to mind the classic Oasis track “Wonderwall.” So, it’s a little
underwhelming when Noel’s voice starts up, when one expects Liam. Noel’s voice
is fine, it’s just that Liam had more power behind his pipes. See, those two really
do need each other.

But that’s not the case, at least not now. While Oasis is on
hiatus (I suspect they will get back together some day, not far off – fingers crossed)
The High Flying Birds project is a
nice start for a guy looking to finally do the songs he wants to do without his
sibling throwing a hissy fit any time Noel wants to try something a little different. My only complaint is that I would've loved to have heard more sonic experimentation with his guitars. Perhaps he tired of that in Oasis. Oh well, it's a nice record from a guy who still plays music from an era 40 years past. Keep the flame burning, Noel!

Copyright 2011 West Marie Media                           

 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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