2017 Review – Best British Act

Our votes for Best British Act are as follows…

= 3. Stormzy (16.33%) & Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (16.33%)

2. Wiley (18.37%)

1. Everything Everything (20.41%)

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built the Moon? Review

Who Built The Moon? Is the album that Noel Gallagher had been a long time poised to produce since leaving Oasis. The album where he was free to be himself, experiment and show to everyone that the portrayal of a frustrated singer-songwriter held back musically by his frontman brother was an accurate one. His debut solo outing was a light change of tone and a completely solid album, his second a mere afterthought on the back of a promising collaboration with Damon Albarn. We now reach 2017 and it’s more than eight years on from you know when; with the brother still arguing via the press and every indie haunt and pub blasting out Oasis tunes… it’s time to hear something different.

With booming saxophones, plunging rhythm sections and stomping percussion, ‘Holy Mountain’ has all the energy and infectiousness of a Rock Pop track that has a sing-a-long quality via its bombastic sound and simple lyrics. It is certain that no track by Noel has ever been so catchy nor featured basic Pop elements and it works well in that sense; undoubtedly becoming a gig favourite. It is not evidence of the great innovation or shift hinted at initially, but a dose of Glam Rock is something unexpected and it works as what it is. The whirring and ringing guitars that open ‘Its A Beautiful World’ echo and reverberate outwards as do Noel’s vocals. The bass line and percussion offer a intricate rhythm and generally this track is a good example of the subtleties of production and arrangement Noel has decided to consider. It is a shimmering yet smooth track that combines elements of electronica and dream pop. This track does sometimes trips over its own transitions though, but it is refreshing to see an act as established as Noel experiment a little. ‘She Taught Me How To Fly’ is another heady and open track which is sees Noel use his new found Lacey rhythms and hooks to best effect with a buoyant arrangement facilitated by ringing guitars in an outwards echo and his vocals fading out in a similar fashion. Clicking percussion and electronica drive the song on as do the focus bridge sections which provide a fast-track to the hazy mock-shoegaze of the chorus. It is a well arranged and produced track that allows Noel to sound like he’s actually enjoying himself and it makes for a warm and uplifting track if not an groundbreaking one.

With ‘Fort Knox’ Noel begins to hint at the new styles and approaches he’s long promised to take in the album’s opener. The Kanye West influenced track opens with a lintany of psychedelic strings and sitars before ringing distortion and punchy percussion drives the song on along with joyous backing vocals. These combine in unison to deliver an ever more theatrical sound which bursts towards a fruition with the rapid tempo change of the string sections. Noel’s few words are repetitive and merely serve as a tool of the dominant rhythms of the track for what is a dynamic and imaginative piece of music. ‘Keep on Reaching’ shows Noel trying to add a bit of soul to his music and adopts a versatile vocal supplement with brass bursts and cool, easy backing vocals. The bluesy and steady stomping beat of ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ is in effect Noel’s best attempt of ‘Come Together’ and is a fine one at that. It’s slick and and varied enough to keep thing interesting with the close vocals and distant backing vocals keeping the listener engaged. ‘Black and White Sunshine’ has enough guitar bursts and basic pitch shifts to be a perfect piece of psych-pop that reminiscent of many British bands of emerging in 2012/13 and is effortlessly delivered track nonetheless. ‘The Man Who Built The Moon’ hits hard with this gathering waves of rhythm and the guitars strike to leave their mark as do Noel’s lyrics which are his most clever on the record. The unceasing rise of the strings add to the peculiar sense of theatre to the track which is one of the best on the record.

It has been an intriguing listen and though he sometimes fall wide of the mark, Who Built The Moon? is an enjoyable and easy listen. The soundtrack experience of producer David Holmes makes for brilliantly poised dramatic arrangements and in any case Noel seems to have a lease of life and energy not seen before and it runs throughout the track for all to see. Some tracks either see him try to hard to produce an elaborate track when a simple one would do and at other times he comes up with sounds already fully formed and explored. The delivery is immaculate however and when it works on this album, it sounds like Noel has made something truly superb. A thoroughly enjoyable album with flashes of something even better.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon? = 7.5/10

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Its A Beautiful World

Noel has been doing a lot of talking since the release of his last single and lots of people have been talking about him, but he’s been releasing music y’know? The latest single from his November 24th release Who Built The Moon is ‘Its A Beautiful World’ and it continues the reimagined sound he’s so far pursued with this record. The whirring and ringing guitars that open the track echo and reverberate outwards as do Noel’s vocals. The bass line and percussion offer a intricate rhythm and generally this track is a good example of the subtleties of production and arrangement Noel has decided to consider. It is a shimmering yet smooth track that combines elements of electronica and dream pop. This track does sometimes trips over its own transitions though, but it is refreshing to see an act as established as Noel experiment a little.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Fort Knox

Much has been promised for Noel’s third solo outing and we got a bit of a twist with Glam Rock influenced ‘Holy Mountain’ which whilst being uncharted territory for the driving Pop that it was, it wasn’t what was teased a couple of before. With ‘Fort Knox’ Noel begins to hint at the new styles and approaches he’s long promised to take. The Kanye West influenced track opens with a lintany of psychedelic strings and sitars before ringing distortion and punchy percussion drives the song on along with joyous backing vocals. These combine in unison to deliver an ever more theatrical sound which bursts towards a fruition with the rapid tempo change of the string sections. Noel’s few words are repetitive and merely serve as a tool of the dominant rhythms of the track. It is certainly different as far as Noel is concerned and if the mentality shown on this track is replicated throughout the Who Built the Moon then it will be one worth your undivided attention from November 24th

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Holy Mountain

On November 24th Noel Gallagher will release his third studio album with his ‘High Flying Birds’ with Who Built the Moon? The teaser trailer of two weeks ago suggests that we’re finally getting the Noel Gallagher album everyone wanted and expected after his Oasis exit. That repuatation he garnered as the frustrated tunesmith and songwriter; the driving force of one of Britain’s greatest bands is yet to be matched with his subsequent ‘solo’ ventures. His self titled debut was a strong start, but was not daring enough to leave the dusty rock environment he created for the album albeit for fleeting moments. Chasing Yesterday was a step back to a comfort zone that whilst being a decent record, it felt like a throwaway effort that even Noel wasn’t too fussed about. Whilst we were teased Neo-psychedelia and Electronica today we are given Glam Rock?

With booming saxophones, plunging rhythm sections and stomping percussion, ‘Holy Mountain’ has all the energy and infectiousness of a Rock Pop track that has a sing-a-long quality via its bombastic sound and simple lyrics. It is certain that no track by Noel has ever been so catchy nor featured basic Pop elements and it works well in that sense; undoubtedly becoming a gig favourite. It is not the great innovation or shift hinted at a few weeks ago however, which leaves us at a crossroads prior to the release of his next single. As great as a fun-loving Noel Gallagher is, the intruiging version advertised would prove a more attractive proposition for his third studio album.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Here’s A Candle (For Your Birthday Cake)

On the back of his second studio album with his High Flying Birds, Noel Gallagher has started to release the B-Sides from the album’s singles and ‘Here’s A Candle’ is one of those. It’s a track that sounds like a cutaway from the self titled debut album of three years ago. Everything from the count-in, the rag-time pace and the general rustic feel of the track is evocative of his earlier body of work which instrumentally and lyrically is better than this years efforts. The wiry organ and resonator sound accentuate the song’s old fashioned feel and rhythm and is a strong track for a B-Side and Noel of one of the best producers of such, but the still wonders what that lost, experimental album might have been compared to what we got this year. Given Noel’s half-arsed promotion of this album we imagine he is thinking the same thing.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday Review

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Chasing Yesterday stream

Love him or loathe him, this man is a musical stalwart and a pretty iconic one in many peoples opinion (probably his too) and with every Noel Gallagher penned album from Oasis’ debut LP Definitely Maybe in 1994 to the High Flying Birds self titled debut in 2011 have reached number one.  He’s been very vocal about everyone else’s music recently (or in other words since 1994) and (as always) he has to justify his critique of everyone from Taylor Swift to Alex Turner by delivering the goods himself. With this in mind it’s the first album that sees Noel take charge of the production as well as the writing with his long-term producer Dave Sardy moving into the film industry “because obviously the music-industry is dying on it’s fucking ass.” As other producers told him it was already finished he went on to take matters into his own hands and produce it himself. He admitted that he doesn’t even like the title Chasing Yesterday but it’s the music that matters, but is it up to standard?

The first track to be released from his album is ‘In the Heat of the Moment’ and it would seem he has largely dropped the earthy feel of his self titled debut solo LP. The track has more of a buzz plus a more enthusiastic beat and rhythm to it. The subtle percussion of the intro becomes more isolated and crisp as you head to the verses, with a grinding, distorted guitar and a spacious feel born out of a very fine synth chime. It’s no massive departure and it’s one that wasn’t wholly expected, but if anything it shows Noel’s vocals can still hold their own in this track of welcoming melodies, foot stomping rhythms and the familiar man in the middle…’The Ballad of the Mighty I’ is Gallagher’s collaboration with Johnny Marr and is one of the strongest tracks on the album with it’s ringing guitars, sweeping strings and vibrating bass line that are strung between soft piano intervals. There is a constant culmination of sound lead by Noel’s vocals that give the track several peaks to fixate upon. This track shows a subtle approach towards recording the guitars that keep them from being overbearing, yet keep them as a prominent part of the track and more so than his last album. The strings too are used as an integral part of the song and certainly give the track a greater fluidity and smooth progression. A credit to Noel the producer.

‘Lock All the Doors’ is a proper rocking track that is quite akin to the Foo Fighter’s recent efforts particularly in the chorus with it’s united and directed melody and hooks. It’s certainly an upbeat and strangely old-style track, but one that you haven’t really heard from Noel before. A nice and inoffensive track, but one that isn’t about to set the world alight. ‘The Mexican is a track that has a bit of a musical attitude and swagger about it that is more in your face with it’s solid rhythms and it’s meandering bass line accentuated with a warped filter and a more bullish vocal performance to deliver more self assured lyrics. A lot of the tracks on the album certainly have shades of his debut LP, particularly with ‘The Girl With the X-ray Eyes’ and ‘The Dying Light’ etc. and it’s almost like they’ve been stretched to fill up the album. Though these tracks have a greater sonic quality than those of his debut album and they present him as an ever capable lyricist, but you feel like more could have been achieved in those more core parts of the album. Having said that, the album’s flow is brilliant and there isn’t a poor track to be found and two things worth noting were some of Noel’s greatest guitar work and the quality of the production. So is it up to standard? Yes, easily. Is it a game changer? Of course not, but it’s certainly worth a listen.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday = 7.5/10

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/chasing-yesterday/id925725038

This Week’s Music Video with Noel Gallagher, Sia, The Vaccines and ShirleySaid

NEWS: Noel Gallagher attacks Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian and Bastille. Is there a problem with the music of our generation?

This man has had a lot to say today; he usually does, but today he attacked those who you wouldn’t think he’d go after. He claimed that bands such as Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian “are not inspiring more working class bands” and went on to say “can you name me the last great band that came out of this country? There’s not really been any great bands in the last 10 years.” He also goes on to explain the lack of pure musical talent and innovation in the charts including the success of the X Factor generation that we are, through the lack of inspiration produced by bands such as Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian and “Middle Class” music produced by them and artists such as Bastille. He also went on to say that “all those bands used to be in the Top Ten, like us, Manic, Pulp, The Verve, Suede and Blur” at the end of the 90’s have been “marginalised and side-lined”.

This certainly begs the question, Is there an obligation for these bands to inspire anyone or lead a generation. While this is always down to artistic choice, if you look at past British bands and artists you find the likes of The Clash, The Smiths, The Kinks, The Jam, Sex Pistols and of course the Britpop generation singing about life in Britain at that time and was to a lesser extent true for some of The Beatles catalogue albeit with a more globalised disenchantment replicated on the streets of the U.K at the time in calling for Peace and an end to the Vietnam war. British music has always thrived out of hardship and injustice, yet in a time of just that in the U.K no one seems to care. No one seems to be singing about it. Does this explain the lack of pure, refined and innovative music in the charts? Perhaps partly. It doesn’t automatically explain the lack of creativity and individuality in the mainstream of British music though. My problem is that the current situation these islands and the world finds itself in hasn’t produced any innovative or meaningful music in the U.K mainstream, whether they’re about these events or not, nor is past or current guitar music the answer nor even have to be the answer. For certain its James Dean Bradfield’s comments about “gap year musicians” that explains the situation better for me. The only certainty about Noel’s comments is that it will test the loyalties and biases of those in the NME office, but at least a high profile figure is asking questions; whether his reasons are correct or not, it’s about time a lot of mainstream British bands took a long hard look at themselves.

Single Review – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Do The Damage

Noel Gallagher High Flying Birds Tickets

Noel Gallagher returns just over a month after the release of the first single off his March 2015 album Chasing Yesterday ‘In the Heat of the Moment’, with ‘Do The Damage’. The B-Side to the single that was released on Monday is arguably a track that offers a little more in terms of something different to his self titled album in 2011. This track is much more urgent and rhythmic with rumbling riffs, rapid piano chords and a certain infectious sing-a-long quality that sweeps over the relentless beat behind the other instrumentals. It’s a track that builds up and brings down the song’s elements and sounds to good effect. Another solid effort from Mr.Gallagher.