Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Flynndie Reviews #54: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday

Written 24th February 2015

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday

The Band: Noel Gallagher (lead vocals/guitar), Tim Smith (guitar), Russell Pritchard (bass), Mike Rowe (keyboards), Jeremy Stacey (drums)

Early March sees the return of the Chief, Noel Gallagher, with his band Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and their second album ‘Chasing Yesterday’ with this week seeing the new album being streamed on iTunes via his website:

The band’s self-titled debut album was well received seeing Noel on good form and releasing a number of singles that again became popular sing-a-long anthems for fans ranging from the cheeky, brass band-stand sounding ‘Death of You and Me’ to the soft and tender but epic sounding opener ‘Everybody’s on the Run’ and a fine Noel acoustic number with ‘If I Had a Gun’.  The middle of the album featured a nice run of tracks, the heavenly divine ‘(I wanna live a dream in my) record machine’ before being followed by brilliant single ‘Aka… What a Life’ an upbeat number with a cool dance vibe about it and a progressive move away from the guitar-rock sound of Oasis.  ‘Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks’ showed Noel doff his cap to The Kinks with a very ‘60’s guitar riff running through it while ‘Aka... Broken Arrow’ saw a semi-acoustic Noel at his finest.  I was lucky enough to get an early preview of a few new tracks when I managed to catch the band play a tiny warm-up gig at The Dome, Tufnell Park earlier this month and the early signs of the new material were promising.  So with the success of the debut album how does ‘Chasing Yesterday’ shape up for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds?

Chasing Yesterday

1. Riverman
2. In the Heat of the Moment
3. The Girl with X-Ray Eyes
4. Lock all the Doors
5. The Dying of the Light
6. The Right Stuff
7. While the song remains the same
8. The Mexican
9. You know we can’t go back
10. Ballad of the Mighty I

With a short excerpt of Noel in the studio (a theme to be found throughout the record) ‘Chasing Yesterday’ opens with the soft, acoustic ‘Riverman’ a calm, gentle opener for the album, stripped-down with soft guitar from Noel and gentle backing bass and keys from Russell and Mike respectively.  Halfway through the track we have a nice guitar solo being accompanied by, in possibly a first for a Noel Gallagher record, a saxophone and this opener reminds me of the type of sound of Paul Weller’s ‘Wild Wood’.  ‘In the Heat of the Moment’ was the first single and the first preview we got of the new album and is a solid Noel solo track with a nice groove throughout it featuring a big chorus “The more that you want it/The more that you need it/I know that you’ll be by my side/In the heat of the moment/When the thunder and lightning come/I know that you’ll be by my side” backed with a series of “Nah-nah-nah-nah’s”.  You will no doubt have heard this track by now and know what we’re all about here.  After another short excerpt from the studio ‘The Girl with X-Ray Eyes’ opens with a reassuringly, familiar acoustic rhythm from Noel and lyrics “Tried to hang on to myself/Don’t believe in no one else/Now I’m shaking like a leaf/As I fall into the street/But the girl with x-ray eyes/She can see through my disguise” and as the track progresses Tim offers some more slightly psychedelic backing guitars to Noel’s acoustic guitar which at times remind me in sound a little of Oasis b-side ‘The Masterplan’.

‘Lock all the Doors’ sees a very raw and full-on Noel rock track. “She wore a star-shaped tambourine/Prettiest girl I’d ever seen/Standing lost and lonely on the shore/I tried to catch her every night/Dancing on the road in her candlelight/But I can’t seem to reach her anymore”.  This is great number with a really infectious melody to it, to an extent like ‘Up in the Sky’ but more in the vein of Oasis’ ‘Morning Glory’ and it’s good to see a Noel write a rocking number like this that shows more than a nod to the ‘Definitely Maybe’ days and this will certainly become a live favourite.  Midway through the album ‘The Dying of the Light’ sets a more sedate tone, a lovely, soulful ballad with soft vocals from Noel complimented by Mike Rowe’s gentle keys, an acoustic partnership that has worked well over the years, and we find Noel in reflective mood here “And I was told/The streets were paved with gold/And there’d be no time for getting old when we were young/It’s alright/If you dance with me tonight/We’ll fight the dying of the light and catch the sun.”  Continuing with an acoustic vibe ‘The Right Stuff’ initially sees the band gently jamming away at its opening, a very trippy yet chilled track, with the saxophone making its second appearance on the album here and openly flirting with light jazz, while the latter of the track features a trademark Gallagher guitar solo intertwined with some more jazz saxophone; a psychedelic number midway through the record.  Moving to a much more upbeat tempo and rhythm ‘While the song remains the same’ is a jolly number with pulsing synths and bass and teasing slide-guitar notes throughout “Found me a place/Where the sun shines through the rain/And there is pleasure in the pain/And the song remains the same/And it goes on and on and on”.

With a heavy guitar-riff and wooden percussion forming the basis for it ‘The Mexican’ sees some driving no-nonsense rock perfectly formed for accompanying a road-trip “Thought I was talking about a new religion/Raining on the outside, lost in the fog/I was only dreaming of a revolution/Waiting for the right time, watching the clock”, while penultimate track ‘You know we can’t go back’ swaggers along confidently with an upbeat rhythm and groove and a rocky edge about it with Noel powering over the chorus “It’s alriiii-ght/But you know that we can’t go back”.  The track blends into the other previous single of the album ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’, which has a real heart and a catchy dance groove to it and lyrics, where I believe, Noel continues to question his path with God “Followed you down to the end of the road/To wait outside your window/In the heat of the rain I would call your name/But you just past me by” a similar theme which can be found on Oasis b-side ‘Listen Up’ and 'Falling Down' from Oasis' last album ‘Dig Out Your Soul’, showing there’s a deepness to Noel’s lyrics more than first meets the eye, and for me this closing track has a similar vibe about it as ‘Aka… What a Life’ from the debut album.

‘Chasing Yesterday’ is another fine record from Noel, with a comforting, recognised feel about it.  Let’s make no bones about it, as a songwriter Noel has his style that we’re all familiar with and this has of course worked successfully well over the years and rightly sees him as a songwriter of a generation. I feel there a number of tracks here showing Noel’s song writing at a matured, mellowed age with ‘Riverman’, an excellent opener, and ‘The Dying of the Light’ being two examples of the quality of this here.  ‘Lock all the doors’ and ‘The Mexican’ have a real full-on rock edge about them and are good songs in their own right, and I’m pleased that Noel has shown some more of his earlier roots with these two rocking numbers.  Overall this is a mellow, chilled album perfect for early morning easy-listening or backing for a long car drive and I’m going to give this one 8 Riverman’s out of 10 as this is a nice follow-on from the debut album which shows some progression while maintaining a comforting air of familiarity about it and a record that I think Noel fans will really get a lot out of and enjoy.

Lock all the Doors

Track 2 – ‘In the Heat of the Moment’

Track 10 – ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’

Band website:

  • Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - setlist from The Dome 2nd Feb 2015


Friday, 13 February 2015

Flynndie Reviews #53: The Subways - The Subways

Written 13th February 2015

The Subways – The Subways

The Band: Billy Lunn (vocals/guitar), Charlotte Cooper (vocals/bass), Josh Morgan (drums)

This week saw the return of the high-spirited, enthusiastic and energetic three-piece The Subways with the release of their self-titled fourth album ‘The Subways’.  The band arrived on the scene around 2005 with their excellent debut album ‘Young for Eternity’ which captured their dynamic and energetic live shows with great Indie-rock tracks like ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen’ and ‘Oh Yeah’, while still showing a tender side to the band with some lighter, poppy tracks (‘Mary’, ‘Young for Eternity’) and some gentle acoustic numbers with ‘No Goodbyes’ being a fine example. 

This was followed by 2008’s ‘All or Nothing’ which saw the band offering some harder, intense rock particularly the excellent opener ‘Girls and Boys’ and other tracks building from their debut record with ‘Shake! Shake!’ showcasing the complimentary vocals between Billy and Charlotte and how well this vocal partnership works for the band.  ‘Strawberry Blonde’ was another fine moment from this record again highlighting the beautiful, tender side The Subways can also offer.

Much like their third album ‘Money and Celebrity’, the band started a new Pledge Music campaign to help support the release of their latest album and have provided fans with regular updates and exclusives through the Pledge Music website so if you previously missed the campaign feel free to check out their project page here: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thesubways.

So in true Billy fashion let’s stage-dive right into the latest record and check out how the latest offering from The Subways sounds.

The Subways

1. My Heart Is Pumping to a Brand New Beat
2. I’m In Love and it’s burning in My Soul
3. Taking all the Blame
4. Dirty Muddy Paws
5. Good Times
6. Because of You (Negative Love)
7. Just Like Jude
8. We Get Around
9. Pet Boy
10. Black Letter
11. Twisted Game
12. Is That Enough

With an up-tempo guitar riff ‘My Heart Is Pumping to a Brand New Beat’ was previously previewed early by the band as part of their Pledge Music campaign and is familiar territory for them, with a fun, energetic groove at the heart of the track and sees Billy on vocals for its verses while Charlotte takes over vocal duties for the chorus “When you’re with me on the dancefloor/My heart is pumping to a brand new beat/Everything I ever cared for/Everything I always wanted to be”.  ‘I’m In Love and it’s Burning My Soul’ follows on with short, sharp power chords and building percussion from Josh while also featuring some short, sharp one-liners from Billy “You know I want it/Cause it’s mine/I got something/Something on my mind” before Charlotte takes over again for the chorus “I’m in love yeah/I’m in love yeah/And it’s burning at my soul”.  It’s another fun, full-on rock track.  ‘Taking All the Blame’ is a lovely semi-acoustic, rock number and as Billy previously revealed in a Pledge update for the album, is a very honest and personal track as Billy and Charlotte share their views with each other on their previous relationship together “What can I do/Do you want me on my knees/What shall I give/One hundred more apologies”, showing the true strength of their friendship and honesty with each other here.

‘Dirty Muddy Paws’ is another full-on, lively rock number with a really nice sonic riff from Billy speeding right through the heart of it while ‘Good Times’ features short, sharp, angst guitar riffs pulsing away at it and featuring some very personal lyrics from Billy here “I wanna live and never die/I’m never giving up the fight/I wanna sing I wanna breath” and a strong chorus “And when I wake up in the morning/Yeah when the sun shines bright/The sun shines bright/I wanna feel the day is calling/I wanna see the good times/The good times”.  Midway through the record we have an incredibly beautiful acoustic ballad ‘Because of You (Negative Love)’.  Featuring soft acoustic guitars and gentle backing piano this track sees Billy on top-form with his vocals and lyrics “What once I was/No longer/Because of you/I’m stronger/I’ll never break/This promise/Because of you/I’m honest”.  This is a truly lovely track.  Charlotte picks up vocal duties again on ‘Just like Jude’ a fun, light-hearted romp of a track with high-spirited punk at its heart and clocking in quickly at just under 2 minutes before ‘We Get Around’ brings more heavy-rock riffs and Billy delivering lines like there’s no tomorrow and I particularly like the line “You’re a saviour of rock ‘n’ roll” before Charlotte chips in with a nicely delivered “Come on!”  ‘Pet Boy’ sees all three members of the band on fine-form with some more power-rock, Billy’s guitar and Charlotte’s bass duelling throughout while Josh’s thunderous drumming provides the battleground for both.

With what I would possible describe as quite an eclectic blend of hip-hop and guitar-rock ‘Black Letter’ opens with Billy and Charlotte both chanting “Pack up with your broken bones/Pack up with your broken bones/Pack up with your broken box” before Billy deliciously snarls the track-title over the chorus “You wrote me a blaaaaack letteeeeer!” and this track very much reminds me of the sound of The Pixies.  Another highly-energetic, up-tempo number ‘Twisted Game’ sees the band delivering some more power-rock with Billy delivering lyrics like there is no tomorrow “Wake up it’s a goddamn beautiful day” before Charlotte’s backing vocal “So pretty/So beautiful” returning to Billy’s “Wake up it’s a goddamn twisted game” over the chorus.  Closing track ‘Is that Enough?’ sees the album close with an assured, confident rock track back with Charlotte on lead-vocals here, with softer verses before a more brutal chorus “You beat my brains in/It’s all I need/We broke the borders/And watched the whole world bleed” before the track and album closes with a solid guitar solo to finish off.

As you will likely have no doubt gathered from this review, this self-titled fourth album from The Subways is packed with some serious full-on, power-rock a style which this three-piece have really honed to an incredibly tight sound over the years, with many tracks on this album leaving you breathless and clocking in under 3 minutes each.  However don’t just be fooled by this image, this album certainly has plenty of depth to it.  With some great and very personal lyrics to be found here from both Billy and Charlotte, it goes without saying that the duel sharing of vocal duties is a real trademark of the band and one that has stood them well over the test of time to create a real identity for the band now over four fine records.  I think this latest offering ‘The Subways’ really sees the band on fine form and I have a lot of admiration for how much work all three put into getting this album out there, particularly as Billy recorded and mixed the album himself, and I am happily going to give this one 8 Good Times out of 10, as this is without question an enthusiastic, fun, rock record but also laced with some sublime, tender moments, in particular ‘Because of You (Negative Love)’, which in my opinion is one of the most beautiful, endearing tracks this fun and loveable three-piece have recorded.

Dirty Muddy Paws

Track 1 – ‘My Heart Is Burning to a Brand New Beat’

Track 3 – ‘Taking all the Blame’

Band website: