Should I duck when I say this? When Oasis broke up in 2009, it didn’t really cross my radar screen.
I suppose in some corners I should duck. I’ve seen people say that they believe Oasis was the best band ever, although I personally can only ever apply the title “greatest band in the world” to the Smiths. Needless to say, Oasis is very important to some people, so to say that their break up didn’t even cause me to sit up and take notice might be quite offensive.
So, then, in 2011 I found myself not once but twice returning to Oasis as Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye debuted their Different Gear, Still Speeding and now more recently Noel Gallagher brought his Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Both albums seem cut from the same family swath—quintessential British rock with bright guitars, sprawling anthems, and soulful introspection. However, where Beady Eye keeps up an intensity equal to Oasis’ bright burning light, Noel Gallagher pulls across a gray sky behind his High Flying Birds, making silhouettes in front of that stretched out sound.
Beady Eye, which majority-wise still carries most of the Oasis weight, points to the continuation of the band with the album’s title, Different Gear, Still Speeding. Raucous and yet anthemic, Beady Eye picks up where things ended. There weren’t many surprises here. However, for those who have appreciated the work of Oasis but perhaps haven’t followed them album by album, Beady Eye gives a new entry point into these influential mates.
“Four Letter Word” is brash and bold, even as Liam Gallagher chants away above the bombastic chords and drums. A bluesy, acoustic feel leads into “Millionaire,” which shows the Beatles influence as much as any Oasis song. That leads right into “Roller,” which begins like the Beatles’ “Revolution,” and of course, the influences are on center stage for “Beatles and Stones.” Elsewhere, listen to the rockabilly piano of “Bring the Light” and the bluesy classic rock of “Standing on the Edge of the Noise.”
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds opens with the cinematic soundscape as if from Danger Mouse and and Daniele Lupp’s Rome. Gallagher’s track, “Everybody’s On the Run,” reveals a vocal loneliness as if sung from the edge of an empty pier. “Dream On” clangs away on a barroom piano, swaggering underneath the drawn-out sky. The acoustic guitar leading the way on “If I Had a Gun” recalls “Wonderwall” although the song never ranges to the Oasis track’s heights. “AKA. . .What a Life” contains hints at something a bit more aggressive rhythmically with more driving force than the rest of the album.
Worth exploring at some length, “Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks” questions whether patriots and Christians really see and understand the injustices and struggling that happens around us on a daily basis. Those questions—coming on a laidback groove and sad trumpet—hit you hard when you realize that Gallagher might just be right.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a third Oasis offering, turn to Ed Vallance and his Volcano, due out in January 2012. While the album opens with “Crystalline” that has more dancebeat drum than anything Oasis offered, listen to the London-born Brooklyn singer, watch things stretch out and wait, and hear the quintessential British rock come pouring in. “Seabird” does the anthem sway. “Black and White Light” spins the disco ball for the pulsing rock. The title track picks up the soulful vibe for the stanzas as if Roxy Music, while the choruses and bridge drive on like the Railway Children dragged ahead into the 90’s. For more on that 90’s influence, go straight to “Dear Misfortune.”