Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

When a band breaks up, there's a natural sadness that descends upon the faithful, and when the British supergroup Oasis split, there was a pall that fell upon the cognoscenti. The brothers Gallagher were at it again, this time Liam had gone too far, assaulting Noel (over the head!) with a priceless vintage Gibson, no less. In terms of what had gone before, the two bandmate brothers had seen it all, a meteoric rise to fame and stardom, years on the road, a steady run of brilliant LP's, and no altercation save this one could threaten to permanently put the kabosh on the band from Manchester that accoplished so much in such a relatively short space of time.

Immediately upon the demise of Oasis (August 2009), both factions set out to get music happening again, as quickly as possible. No one knowing the love of all things rock and roll that existed within every iteration of this group could forsee anything but a perfunctory, momentary split. Liam gathered up his Oasis bandmates before Noel could sneeze, and in the wake of Beady Eye (Liam's new aggregation), the High Flying Birds rose like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of Oasis with their own eponymous first LP.

Noel had been rumored to be planning to release his first solo effort long before the band split, so it's certain that the machinations were already in motion long before things got completely unbearable within the confines of Oasis, and Liam's asinine behaviour. Sir George Martin, no less, called Noel "the most significant songwiter of his generation". Wow!! Coming from the man that made the Beatles who they were, are, and will ever be, that's a huge endorsement. Pressure to fulfill expectations of rabid-for-product Oasis fans? I have never seen Noel do much more than flinch in the wake of major altercations throughout the most tumultuous years of the band's existance. Even the time in 1996 when Liam pulled his most famous stunt (1996 MTV Video Music Awards, where Liam feigned illness, opted out of the acoustic performance, and heckled his brother, beer in hand, from the balcony), Noel was coaxed back into the fold. Not this time.

Noel's album is nothing short of brilliant, from the pen that gave you Champagne Supernova, Some Might Say, and the smash multiplatinum Wonderwall. Liam has nothing on Noel, who when pressed into service, does excellent vocal renditions of Liam's best work. Noel, naturally, writes, sings, plays and calls the shots on his first solo LP (he is The Chief, after all!). This album totally lived up to the lofty expectations of the fans, and immediately spurred the High Flying Birds (musicians featured on the record include former Oasis keyboardist Mike Rowe, The Lemon Trees drummer Jeremy Stacey and percussionist Lenny Castro, in addition to guest appearances from the Crouch End Festival Chorus and The Wired Strings) to hit the road to promote the LP. Noel's famed Mellotron, rumored to have once been owned by John Lennon, is front and center on the opener "Everybody's On The Run", and the album on the whole is a collection of both wistful and more forceful workouts. No need for autotune or excessive compression (Noel has the most amazing voice, one has only to witness a live performance that's circulating on the web to realize this fact, largely unnoticed with the former presence of Liam), this album is totally modern without falling back on these trendy production artifacts. Noel shows from the get go that the split had no effect on his ability to crank out the most amazing album of 2011 in my opinion. High Flying Birds gets a rating of 5 stars, well-warranted given the high producton values and excellent songwriting. Also, check out his most recent EP (a collection of previous singles' B-Sides released for Record Store Day 2012, limited to 2000 copies), Songs From The Great White North on white vinyl if you can source it, if HFB is your cuppa.

Tomorrow I'll give due time to brother Liam with a quick review of Beady Eye's debut "Different Gear Still Speeding", and, personally speaking, I refuse to pick a winner.

In closing, today would have been Bob Moog's 78th birthday. Robert Arthur "Bob" Moog (pronounced /ˈmoʊg'/ MOHG) (May 23, 1934 – August 21, 2005), founder of Moog Music, was an American pioneer of electronic music, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer. Google celebrated with a Google Doodle that you can actually play "Lucky Man" on! Happy Birthday, Bob!

This marks my first full week of mind's eye music online. Between records and gear, news, reviews and general shoutouts, it promises to be a great resource that will be constantly growing. I look forward to holding forth here, so be sure to make this blog a regular part of your day, each and every day. In the meantime, keep your tubes hot and your theremin antenna up (in honor of Bob, hehe...) ! See you tomorrow.

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