Sunday, November 13, 2011

Up with the birds...and the view is nice....

In the summer of 2009, Noel Gallagher hit the last straw point, and Oasis as the world knew it imploded.  As with many successful and beloved bands, the "Where will they all go now?" question came to the minds of many.

Today we take a look at where one of them went, with Noel's project "Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds"

Truth be told the debut album from Noel alone plays like "The best of Oasis: The ballads" - Noel has a pleasant voice, but his is more suited to the quiet, reflective moments.  Listening to this album it feels like Oasis minus the swagger that Liam brought to the table.  This swagger is missed at times, others not so much.  Opening track "Everybody's on the run" plays like a snapshot of the chaotic arguments that led up to Noel's acrimonious departure - it's all concern, worry, and what-will-happen-next fretting - but infused with Noel's fine ear for rock guitar balladry, it sounds delightful.

At this point on, Noel has nothing to prove, his songwriting chops honed over nearly 2 decades in the band he left 2 years ago.  And yet snatches of the past crop up - "If I Had A Gun" is littered with lyrical drug-induced-fantasy tripes that seem ripped from the "Be Here Now / What's the story morning glory?" days - pleasant enough musically, but they feel like treading water.

Mercifully, the very next song makes up for it all.  "The death of you and me" is one of those haunting-sticks-in-your-head tracks that Noel does so well.  It's nostalgia for good times lost, it's running away from the humdrum of everyday life, it's so many things - it's exactly what you imagine it to be - and no less haunting with that everyman spirit permeating every note.  Noel later quips "You never know what you might find over the sunset on the horizon / it may be a dream but it tastes like poison"  Ironically, these words are heard on the most rollicking, fancy-free sounding track on the disc "AKA...what a life!" - further signs of Noel's songwriting evolution - the "Rock n Roll Star" of Oasis' debut album has been replaced with a world-weary man who is seeking peace & relief from the noise of the day-to-day.

His songs often delve into hero-worship of women of strength and power - this theme continues as "AKA...broken arrow" opens with "A fallen angel with a broken arrow / she come for me and ease my troubled mind" - and keeps on with the theme of trying to find peace in the maelstorm.  Some might call this theme redundant, but he manages to keep it from sounding tired - not an easy task having put out 8 discs with Oasis and now coming out with this one.

Time may never see the Gallagher brothers make peace with each other.  If a great band has been lost, the talent is still there - and when it comes to Noel, he is worth listening to for this and future musical endeavors.

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