Tag Archives: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

BE by Beady Eye

BE

Beady Eye, the gutted remains of what used to be the Brit-Pop band Oasis, put out their second album this week.  Beady Eye’s first record, DIFFERENT GEAR, STILL SPEEDING was Liam Gallagher’s confident blast of bravado and proof that he could hold his own without his brother Noel.   Back in 2012 I proclaimed 2011 to be “The Year of The Battling Gallagher Brothers.”  Liam was the first of the Gallagher brothers to release a post-Oasis record and ultimately I felt his Beady Eye record was better than Noel’s strangely titled High Flying Birds record.

Fast forward to 2013, and my expectations were high as I fired up BE.  Would Liam be able to deliver another stellar album or would Noel’s absence be more fully felt?  My first impression was that BE was closer to the denser, mid-period Oasis albums like HEATHEN CHEMISTRY and STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS.   I love both of those records, but they took a couple of listens before I found myself singing along.  Similarly, BE lacks the big hooks of early Oasis.  Also toned-down is the usual Beatles-influence.

BE has a spacey, almost distant quality that frankly took me by surprise.  There are definite tempo changes throughout the record, but everything sounds quieter and more subdued that DIFFERENT GEAR , STILL SPEEDING.  Standout tracks include the Lennon-esque “Iz Rite” and the quiet, dare I say introspective “Soon Come Tomorrow.”

The album has songs that should be rockers, like the third track “Face The Crowd,” but nothing on BE takes off like on Beady Eye’s first album.  So initially I was a bit underwhelmed by BE’s low-key shift, but after a few spins I warmed to the album. BE feels like a transitional album for Beady Eye.  On one hand, I’m a little sad Liam isn’t just doing Oasis 2.0 music…but on the other hand I’m glad he’s branching out into new territory—even if he that means we don’t get a few less raucous rockers.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t address BE’s most interesting song: “Don’t Brother Me.”  This is the song all of us Oasis fans have been waiting for—the one in which one of the Gallagher brother’s waves a white flag.  With lyrics like, “In the morning/I’ve been calling, I’m hoping you understand/All and nothing, I’ll keep pushing/Come on now, give peace a chance, take my hand, be a man” this is song is 100% aimed at Noel.  I know what it’s like to have a tempestuous relationship with a sibling, someone who you can both deeply love and feel tremendous anger towards.  “Don’t Brother Me” probably isn’t going to mend any Gallagher family fences (Liam sings about being sick of  “your lying, skimming, and you crying”) but it’s a start.

The worst thing I could say about BE (and actually I did this during much of Noel’s HIGH FLYING BIRDS) is that during most of the songs I found myself singing the chorus of “Fade Away” that ultimate-classic of an Oasis song: “While we’re living, the dreams we had as children fade away…”

BE gets an (un-ironic) “B”.

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Highly-Unscientific Rock Poll: All-Time Best Song of Summer

Sometimes there are questions too big for one man. Sometimes, in the search for ultimate truth, we must seek the guidance of others. And then there are times when one wants to increase traffic to one’s blog by actively seeking participation of one’s small readership by stoking the fires of eternal debate…

Yes friends, it’s time to review the lastest statistical disaster I like to call my HIGHLY-UNSCIENTIFIC ROCK POLL!  With the temperatures rising and the days lasting longer, I found myself in a summer mood.  I have a lot of fond memories of sitting by an inflatable kiddie pool listening to the radio.  I also spent an inordinate amount of time driving around the suburbs listening to an assortment of shitty pop stations.  Anyway, summer means many things to many people, which meant choosing an all-time best song of summer wasn’t going to be easy–luckily I had some help this week.

9, 8, 7 and 6 (no votes) “Let’s Go Surfin” and “California Girls”  by The Beach Boys, “Summertimes Blues” by Eddie Cochran, “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley, and “Summer Mood” by Best Coast: So I guess I should start off by saying that this poll is full of meddling.  Even though about the same number of people participated in the poll as usual, meddling was up 300% from my last two rock polls.  Initially I only had one Beach Boys song on the list, but one of my relatives on Facebook (where these scientific polls are conducted) asked me to add “Let’s Go Surfin,” which is fine but after I added it–she didn’t vote.  So technically “Let’s Go Surfin” should have one vote, but I’m a stickler for the rules and just commenting on a poll does not equal an actual vote. I’m a Beach Boys fan, as cheesy as 99.999% of their songs are–you have to give them one thing: they own the summer.  They have so many songs about the beach, summer, waves, surfing, riding around in cars, etc. that to exclude them from your summer music mix would be a crime.  “Summer Mood” by Best Coast was my attempt to add something a bit newer (less classic rock-ish) to the poll, though I can see why they got no votes.  I absolutely love Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.”  That song really takes me back to high school and all the things I should have done, could have done…it’s a very bittersweet song and whenever I hear it I think about those high school summers. I’m a bit surprised it didn’t get a vote (I couldn’t vote for it because it makes me a bit sniffly).

“Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran, are you fucking kidding me? No votes? Clearly this poll is unscientific because we all know that song kicks-ass–there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues!!!!

3. “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry: Alright, more meddling, but this was meddling of the welcomed variety.  One of my poll-takers added Mungo Jerry’s laid-back classic to the list, how I forgot this tune I’ll never know.  I heard it again on the radio and it pretty much sums up the summer experience.  I don’t know a thing about Mungo Jerry, and I bet you don’t either, but we’ve all heard the song.  If I could have had two votes I definitely would have voted for this song.  I also love how creepy/fucked up it is towards women.  It’s such a happy-song and then bam! The singer give you advice about how to treat the daughter’s of rich and poor men (“if her daddies rich, take her out for a meal/if her daddies poor, then do what you feel”).  I always like a little creepy in my summer.

2. “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls: Sigh, this was more meddling on the part of my poll-takers.  I guess this is what I get for allowing people to add their own options.  DEMOCRACY: IT JUST DOESN’T WORK.

1. TIE: “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper and “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful: I voted for “Summer in the City” because it’s catchy and a little scary sounding.  That keyboard riff is iconic, you hear it and you instantly know what song your hearing.  Mungo Jerry’s song perfectly captures the easy-going nature of the country in summer  and The Lovin’ Spoonful do the same thing for the city.  Except the city is not easy-going.  The song rhymes “city” with “pity” so  you know dark shit is going on.  Whenever I hear this song I think about that dirty mixture of smog and sweat.

Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” is a fantastic choice for #1 as well.  We’ve all been there–counting down the days until school was out for the summer.  Remember cleaning out your locker? I used to gleefully throw everything away. School is out for the SUMMER!  It’s been a few years since I was “out for summer” so this song has lost a little of it’s appeal, which is kind of sad now that I think about it.  Like “Summer in the City,” “School’s Out” has a dark edge to it as well (what with all the talk about school being blown up and the chuggy-guitar riff). When I think of summer, I don’t think of “dark” or “gritty” so why did these songs end up getting the most votes? I suppose it’s the highly-unscientific nature of the poll, but I also think that as a species we’re attracted to the macabre…even in the middle of summer.

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2011: The Year of the Battling Gallagher Brothers

Sibling rivalry. 

 In my head, having a brother is like having a built-in best friend, though I know the reality is very different.  Everyone I know with a brother seems to have some sort of issue with him.  Noel and Liam Gallagher, the creative force behind the last great british rock band that mattered, have to my knowledge always been in a state of embattlement.  Locking horns over creative differences is one thing, giving each other brutal back-stage beat downs is something else entirely.

The Gallagher Brothers...in better days.

When the boys could work together, the music they produced was astounding. Oasis never was anything other than two British lads trying to out-Beatle The Beatles. In the 1990’s it worked and Oasis became a household name with hits like “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova.”  But then drugs and conflict pulled the band down a rabbit hole of mediocrity and diminishing album sales.  Initially I was not a fan of the brutish Brit-rockers.  I found Liam’s nasally, Lennon-obsessed vocals to be grating.  And I didn’t see much value in Noel’s rather by-the-numbers balladry.  I’d always been a huge Beatles fan growing up, and I found Oasis to be more  rip-off than torch-passing tribute.  I’ve softened on this position over the years and my appreciation of Oasis oddly grew as their general fame receded.

During the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Oasis put out a string of competent, though somewhat spotty albums that were both risky and highly indulgent.  Most people were turned off by albums like STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS and HEATHEN CHEMISTRY, but I found them to be much more interesting than their “safer” Beatle-esque material.  This period of the band’s life was marked by heavier (than usual) in-fighting and heavy cocaine abuse.  Then in 2005 the band released DON’T BELIEVE THE TRUTH and had a minor comeback.

In 2008 the band released DIG OUT YOUR SOUL and went on tour.  I was lucky enough to see Oasis perform in Chicago on what was to be their final tour.  The concert was great but the album they were supporting was lackluster.  When the band broke up in 2009 I was saddened but not surprised.   The boys had finally called it quits after some sort of altercation occurred back stage and Liam ended up breaking Noel’s guitar. These type of shenanigans, which seemed quaint back in the “Wonderwall” days seemed pathetic.  Especially when you consider that they’re both pretty damn old to still be getting in backstage fights.  If you can’t get along then move on.

Which is what both brothers said they were going to do.  I didn’t anticipate the both of them to release albums this year.  I figured, like I think most people did, that when Oasis broke up that would be the end of the brothers Gallagher.  I thought that perhaps they’d fight over the name Oasis, maybe even mount competing tours. I can close my eyes and almost see each of them proclaiming their version to be the “true” Oasis.

Liam, I was certain, was going to be fucked without Noel.  He was the principal singer but not the band’s main songwriter. All the big hits were Noel’s, who besides writing songs was also the lead guitarist.  In fact, when Oasis played live, Liam seemed very awkward just standing there, waiting to sing.  He’d often clutch a tambourine, to give himself something to hold, but for the most part he looked pretty lost.  When one of Noel’s songs came up (the ones he actually sang), Liam would leave the stage entirely.

So the brother who wrote less, played no instruments, and was generally regarded to be the chief fuck of the band was going to have a hard time as a solo act.  That much I was sure.  Noel, on the other hand, seemed more like George Harrison–a brilliant artist stifled by being in the world’s biggest band. Surely the break-up of Oasis would be a good thing for his career/music.  Without Liam constantly offering him roadblocks and hoging the limelight, he’d be free to become the star he always seemed to be.  That’s what I thought was going to happen.

But life is funny and people are always surprising.  Liam and the remaining members of Oasis formed the band Beady Eye and announced they were recording an album only months after the break-up.  Two years later DIFFERENT GEAR, STILL SPEEDING came out and was pretty damn good.  Not only did Liam beat Noel to the punch by having his album come out first, it wasn’t a complete distaster.  “Bring the Light” a rollicking piano number and “The Roller” were better than anything late-period Oasis were putting out, even on their “comeback” DON’T BELIEVE THE TRUTH.  Not every track was what I’d call classic, but the album didn’t disappoint. Liam hadn’t embarrassed himself.

Noel and Liam, wondering which them is inappropriately dressed.

So, if Liam’s album was great then Noel’s album was going to be FANTASTIC.  Right?  Well there was silence on the Noel Gallagher front for several months, then it was announced that his album and band was going to be called NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS.  When I finally got my hands on the album I recognized two of the songs.  Unlike Liam (who was not regarded as the writer) Noel had recycled two unreleased Oasis songs for his solo debut.  Those tracks, “(I Wanna Live In a Dream In My) Record Machine” and “Stop the Clocks.” These songs aren’t super-obscure either.  Hell, they played “Record Machine” when I saw them in Chicago and “Stop the Clocks” was the TITLE of their greatest hits compilation (though it was ultimately left off because Noel wasn’t done tinkering with it). Noel the master songwriter had taken longer to release an album of old songs?

Something didn’t feel right.  And while NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS is just as good as Beady Eye’s album, there’s still something very wrong with that.  I almost feel like Liam stepped his game up for the Beady Eye record and Noel slacked off and gave us something good but not his best work. The two Oasis-era songs were good and “If I Had A Gun…” and the single “The Death of You and Me” are very catchy…but ultimately I feel like by not completely screwing up his album, Liam stole some of Noel’s thunder.  Both Liam and Noel are busy touring and have announced new albums for next year.  Only time will tell if the Gallagher brothers will ever make amends and reform Oasis.  If they weren’t family, I’d say it was a remote possibility, but with blood you never can tell.

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“The Death of You and Me” by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

In the interest of being fair to both Gallagher brothers, here is a song from Noel’s album:

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