Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
With Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist Noel Gallagher expanded on his former band Oasis' skill at combining Beatles-esque melodies and the power of the Who into arena-sized songs. On their 2011 self-titled debut, the band emphasized the craftsmanship of Gallagher's songwriting, and broadened their horizons on 2015's harder-edged Chasing Yesterday and 2017's vividly psychedelic Who Built the Moon? While all of these albums topped the charts, the electronic experiments on the band's EPs -- which included 2020's Blue Moon Rising -- proved Gallagher was still pushing the boundaries of British rock music, while the 2021 compilation Back the Way We Came, Vol. 1: 2011-2021 illustrated he assembled a sturdy songbook outside of Oasis. As the lead guitarist, songwriter, and occasional lead vocalist in Oasis, Noel Gallagher was at the forefront of the Brit-pop resurgence in the early '90s. When that band fell apart, he went solo with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, a group that, much like Oasis, combined the melodies of the Beatles with the power of the Who in arena-sized songs over the course of the 2010s. The band formed in 2010 around the talents of Gallagher, former Oasis keyboard player Mike Rowe, Lemon Trees drummer Jeremy Stacey, and percussionist Lenny Castro. They released their debut single, "If I Had a Gun," in August 2011, and their eponymous full-length debut followed in mid-October. It reached number one in the U.K., also performing well across the globe and eventually selling over 2.5 million copies. In 2014, the single "In the Heat of the Moment" preceded the release of the High Flying Birds' second album, the self-produced Chasing Yesterday, in 2015. The record featured a guest appearance from guitarist Johnny Marr. The band embarked on a promotional tour that lasted over two years and visited 28 countries. A remix album entitled Where the City Meets the Sky: Chasing Yesterday: The Remixes saw release in the fall of 2015 and featured reworkings by the likes of Andrew Weatherall, and 3D of Massive Attack. Gallagher teamed with producer David Holmes and spent two years making Who Built the Moon?, a 2017 album that revived his love of noisy neo-psychedelia. The record debuted at number one on the U.K. charts, making it the tenth chart-topping album in a row for a Gallagher-led band. During the course of 2019, the High Flying Birds embarked on tours of the U.S. with Smashing Pumpkins and Australia with U2, while also headlining festivals. They also released a series of EPs that built upon the music on Who Built the Moon? and explored electronic sounds and danceable tempos alongside more traditional Gallagher fare. The first of these was Black Star Dancing, which arrived in June; it was followed in September by This Is the Place. Another EP, Blue Moon Rising -- which featured the single "Wandering Star" -- appeared in March 2020. Gallagher celebrated the tenth anniversary of his High Flying Birds with the 2021 compilation Back the Way We Came, Vol. 1: 2011-2021.
© James Christopher Monger & Tim Sendra /TiVo
© James Christopher Monger & Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 17, 2011 | Sour Mash Records Ltd
Oasis always thrived on tension between the Brothers Gallagher -- not the interpersonal squabbles but their conflict between instinct and discipline. Liam personified the former while Noel flew the flag for the latter and their distinct, differing definitions of rock & roll continued to churn out exciting rock & roll until the end, when Liam’s cavalier attitude toward work proved the final straw for the elder Gallagher. Unsurprisingly, the first solo projects from the two reflected this dichotomy: Liam’s Beady Eye is all big-legged swagger; Noel’s High Flying Birds is tasteful, mannered craftsmanship. Noel often griped how Liam would prevent Oasis from doing anything unexpected, thereby raising expectations of left turns on High Flying Birds, but the little brass flourishes peppered throughout the record don’t stop the album from playing like a succession of variations on “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “The Importance of Being Idle.” Craftsman that he is, Gallagher does come up with several keepers -- the Oasis carryovers “Stop the Clocks” and “(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine,” “If I Had a Gun...,” “Everybody’s on the Run” -- but his success ratio is no greater than it was on the last two Oasis albums, where his best tunes were buttressed by good ones from his brother and Andy Bell. Take the highlights from Beady Eye’s Different Gear, Still Speeding and add them to the highlights from High Flying Birds, and you’ll wind up with a balanced, better record than either individual LPs -- and in a direct competition the elder Gallagher comes up just a little short, as he’s missing anything resembling rock & roll, skimping on quick tempos and loud guitars. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo