High Flying Birds

In the war that is waged between the brothers Gallagher - Liam and Noel - fans are left to argue “which brother is more successful since the break-up of their band Oasis?” If success is predicated on which brother’s output sounds more like Oasis, then I’d lay my bets on Noel Gallagher. High Flying Birds, both the band that bears the name and the album that wears the title, sounds as if Oasis continues on, albeit, altered. Noel Gallagher continues to write songs from the template created for his enormously successful former band and borrows Oasis keyboardist Mike Rowe, and its producer Dave Sardy. High Flying Birds also contain “Stop the Clocks” a song originally written by Gallagher for the 2004 Oasis album Don’t Believe the Truth but left of the final track listing.

Whether Gallagher wants to sound like Oasis is in question. His concern for sounding too much like he and his brother’s band affected his choice of High Flying Birds’ first single. He balked at releasing “If I Had a Gun” because it sounded too much like Oasis, but, being that Noel Gallagher wrote so much of Oasis’ material might mean there is only a relative amount of escape available to him. “The Death of You and Me,” the eventual first single, features a sauntering rhythm that slips into a Dixieland interlude, but it’s also highlighted by the blithely hummable melodies that were Gallagher’s forte as songwriter for Oasis.

Oasis was known for its grand theatrical rock anthems. Gallagher’s penchant for symphonic rock continues. The Wired Strings and The Crouch End Festival Choir, who formerly worked with Travis, Ray Davies, and The Divine Comedy, appear throughout the album. Their presence intensifies the production, sending it soaring on “(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine.” The opening track “Everybody’s On the Run” features a 100 female choir, a string arrangements of epic proportions. It was also written during Gallagher’s last tour with Oasis. The same choir returns on “Stop the Clocks.”

Gallagher does step away from the old formula on “AKA…What a Life!” The track is driven by pounding drum and piano. “Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks” with its trumpet highlight, sounds more like The Kinks than Britpop of the 1990s. “Broken Arrow” relies more on acoustic guitar than most of Gallagher’s past material.

High Flying Birds – the band, also features Jeremy Stacey, former Lemon Tree drummer, the great studio percussionist Lenny Castro, bassist Russell Pritchard, and guitarist Tim Smith.

Rosemary Welsch (afternoon host)