Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding

As promised, my reaction to the debut LP release by the former lead singer of Oasis, Liam Gallagher.

Beady Eye are an English rock band formed in 2009. The band consists of vocalist Liam Gallagher and guitarists Gem Archer and Andy Bell, all former members of Oasis, rounded out by drummer and percussionist Chris Sharrock who substituted for Oasis during their last tour in 2008/2009, before Oasis broke up after chief songwriter and lead guitarist Noel Gallagher quit acrimoniously in August 2009. The remaining members gathered on and decided that they "will not quit making music together" and so they formed the band Beady Eye.
Since forming, the band has released one album Different Gear, Still Speeding (2011) with a second expected to follow in summer 2012 (yay!!!). The band has received general acclaim for their music by Oasis fans, with Q magazine claiming that their debut album is the best Liam has performed on, since (What's the Story) Morning Glory?.

Cheeky move, little bruddah, grabbing the remaining members of Oasis for your fledgling project! I guess, really, if Noel was leaving something, he had no plans to take it with him. Ostensibly, I see this as a move on Liam's part to reward his erstwhile sidemen for years of faithful service in Oasis. These ringers have long proved their loyalty, and that accounts for plenty in today's dog-eat-dog rock and roll world (pay to play, payola, scandal, constantly shifting lineups, etc.). The only question left upon the breakup was simply this...who's going to throw the first punch? (pun intended).

Beady Eye finds themselves operating in an arena (punny) where certain current industry standards must be adhered to (or so it seems by the number of producers/record companies/artists following suit. It's nigh on impossible to determine precisely who's to blame for this.). Today's modern rock, by and large, sounds as if it were run through a crusher. The majority of modern rock today is overcompressed in the mastering stages to give it the appearance of being comparatively louder than the preceding song when played on the radio (terrestrial, sattelite, internet or otherwise), while losing dynamic range in the process. It's called "the loudness wars", and judging by its popularity, it isn't going away. It sort of started happening slowly over the decade of the 90's and continues into the 21st century. In my opinion, it ruins a lot of good music by making it virtually unplayable on high resolution systems. As the trend toward portability versus true audio quality continues to muck up the already murky waters of today's sounds, there's a large contingent (this blogger included) speaking out in opposition to tthis disturbing, destructive trend. Google loudness wars and join in to help regain dynamic range on recordings with us!

Oh yeah, how does the album sound?...(I get on a minor rant and have to be corralled back to the thrust of this exercise.) Compression issues aside, since 2000 (Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants, with his first released effort Little James), Liam has been stroking his songwriting bone into shape, and as he goes along, has picked up considerable juice over the time since. Remember, Oasis is this huge juggernaut in the UK, and basically a band with one or two recognizeable hits domestically (most people in the States struggle to remember the global impact Wonderwall had when it was released in 1995, and the insanity generated in the concert scene in Britain in the 90's and beyond surrounding the band, including record sellouts of huge football stadia and multiplatinum record sales). The band had been all but ignored by radio, and they spent a lot less time trying to conquor America's concert touring scene in the ensing years. Liam was recently named the best frontman of all time by listeners of XFM (a point sorely missed on an American public that more or less missed the boat), thus adding credibility to this breakaway effort.

The music on Different Gear, Still Speeding is very reminiscent of recent Oasis output, and is very British, as is its counterparts. Both Noel and Liam get pigeonholed, unfairly, for aping the Beatles' songwriting styles, but they have gone on record time and time again to defend their admiration for and influence by 60's classic rock stylings. Their take is that they can borrow reminiscent phrases that harken back to particular songs from the British Invasion and beyond and be paying tribute in the process. I for one think that it's a very endearing trait shared amongst the brothers and their musical leanings (together and separately), and I hope that it's a trend that they continue to employ as long as it doesn't get overworked. Yet, so far, it remains to be seen if their fans are growing weary, because the sales of both brothers' LP's have maintained the focus and rate of popularity that is possessed of their previous band effort, and that's a good thing. Nothing wrong with more of a good thing!

As far as ratings go, I give Beady Eye's debut effort 4 out of 5 stars, one point subtracted for succumbing to industry trends surrounding the loudness wars. Noel's debut solo album has the edge in overall sales, and while both LP's were highly anticipated, both receive regular play around the michaelhigh abode. By the way, and for the record,  Noel's LP avoids the annoying trend of overcompression as an effect.

Tomorrow, it's back to audio gear, and some secrets on how to get the most out of your computer audio experience. In the meantime, keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you tomorrow!

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