Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday

Noel-Gallagher

The thing about Noel Gallagher is that his songwriting sounds timeless. As one of the people responsible for crafting Britpop, his songs consistently sound as though they’ve always been around, and we’re just rediscovering them when each album releases. As such, his newest effort, Chasing Yesterday, sounds like classic Noel, whether that is for better or worse.

Gallagher’s original solo album, the self-titled Noel Gallagher and His High Flying Birds, sounded outside of most everything in the discography of his past band, a little outfit known as Oasis. His signature guitar sound was mostly ousted in favor of softer acoustic-centered pop and an intricate mixture of violins and other odd instruments. Chasing Yesterday aptly marks a return to form with heavy guitar and an Oasis-style swagger. The softer songs are there, but they’re few and far between.

This doesn’t sound like the second in a line of solo albums as much as it does a series of songs that could’ve been pulled from any point in Oasis’ career. While it’s enough to sound like we’ve heard it before, the good news is that it reaffirms how good of a writer Gallagher is.

Chasing Yesterday fixes the problem that I had with High Flying Birds; it was too soft for someone considered to be one of the world’s biggest rock stars. There is an energy here that has been sorely missed since the breakup of Oasis. It’s reassuring to hear him sound comfortable not having to distinguish himself away from his old band as he did on High Flying Birds, and reinforces how much he actually wrote for Oasis. Also, the deluxe version’s extra tracks feel like an absolute must have. How some of them were cut from the actual portion of the album, I’ll never understand.

If you’ve ever heard an Oasis or Noel Gallagher song before, you know what to expect; poppy guitars rattling intimately over a pulsing bass and crackling drums. There is a little something for everyone with a diverse style of music, whether it be relaxed blues (“Riverman”), a semi-electronic song backed by fuzzy guitars (“In the Heat of the Moment”), the softer pop songs that tamper with stringed instruments and keyboards (“The Girl With X-Ray Eyes”) or genuine rock songs (“Lock All the Doors”). Each instrument is given its moment to rise to the occasion and take command.

I think it’s easy to say that Chasing Yesterday refers to and focuses on the music, as the lyrics can be fairly random. The songs are catchy and designed to easily be sung along to, but there is an inconsistency with them that doesn’t sound connected. “The Girl With X-Ray Eyes” has Noel singing, ‘So she took me by the hand, we followed clues left in the sand / As she swallowed space and time we gathered pearls and swine / She shot me to the sun like a bullet from a gun”. In the context of the song, it sounds wonderful but isolated it just feels random.

If there is a theme lyrically to Chasing Yesterday, it’s the idea of trying to live up to the legendary songwriter that his fans expect him to be. “You Know We Can’t Go Back” sounds like a near sequel to the Oasis song “Fade Away”, both musically and thematically. Where the latter was a song about losing the dreams that you grew up wanting, “We Can’t Go back” has Noel singing, “Gone are the days and the dreams we screamed out loud / With my heart in my mouth / I couldn’t tell you what just hit me”.

Gallagher also touches on the subject of trying to recapture the glory of his most famous songs, most of which are 20 years old at this point, despite the numerous albums released since then. In “The Dying Light”, Gallagher sings, “I keep on running but I can’t get to the mountain / Behind me lie the years that I’ve misspent / And I’ve been sinking like a flower in the fountain” before breaking into a chorus of, “And I was told that the streets were paved with gold there’d be no time / For getting old when we were young”. The lyrics carry an even heavier weight over waves of a crisp bass line and the clamor of drumming that sounds like the harsh patter of rain drops.

It’s hard for me not to recommend Chasing Yesterday to anyone. It reinforces the greatest aspects of what makes Noel Gallagher such a strong songwriter and adds a necessary energy to his solo effort. The problem is, it’s nothing we haven’t heard before and makes me miss quieter somber sound of the original High Flying Birds. That said, the album is exactly what I want when Noel Gallagher releases an album and adds to a career of incredible work.

3.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has loved Noel Gallagher for as long as he can remember. In fact, he knew about Noel Gallagher and his music before Paul McCartney and John Lennon and their Beatles music. What are the chances?

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Most Anticipated of 2015: #3 Noel Gallagher’s Return to Guitar Rock

Noel-Gallagher

Noel Gallagher is a rock god. He’s penned some of the best songs in Brit pop, much less rock itself. His first solo album after the breakup of Oasis, the self titled Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was a near masterpiece that backed the fact that he is a master musician. However, it felt under appreciated in the U.S. despite sitting near the top of the charts in Britain.

Noel’s solo career initially took a step away from the guitar rock of his days in Oasis, as the writing focused on acoustic based songs with heavy bass and percussion. He introduced new elements such as violin and trumpet as staples to the songs that made the record sound more akin to a soundtrack than anything. Regardless, it was an album that seemed like every song should’ve been a massive single.

Almost three and a half years later, Gallagher’s second solo album is ready to strike in March. From the few songs released so far, the appropriately titled Chasing Yesterday looks like the writing will shift back to an Oasis-styled rock album. The few singles out so far bask in an energy that all classic songs seems to have, something that felt almost completely absent from High Flying Birds in retrospect.

Lead single “In the Heat of the Moment” is a grungy pop song backed with prominent percussion and bells that makes it feel as at home in an arena concert as it would a dance club. B-side “Do the Damage” is a straight up rock song, which is something that his first album almost completely lacked. It comes complete with a jamming saxophone, as is standard for Brit pop.

If Chasing Yesterday can keep the momentum going, it may be a massive album that recaptures Noel’s passion for songwriting and be on par with his writing from the nineties, which many consider his prime. Though an Oasis reunion still seems utterly impossible, Chasing Yesterday may be more than anyone could’ve hoped for.

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has been obsessed with the Gallagher brothers and Oasis since he was a wee youngin’. He saw Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds play to a half full room in Indianapolis, but the crowd there deafened the room with how loud they sang back. Yay!

Most anticipated albums of 2014

we_are_the_in_crowd

Now that all of the end-of-the-year lists are finished (wait, some people are still posting end-of-the-year lists?), we figure it’s time to look ahead to 2014. Surely, 2013 featured an incredible amount of fantastic music, but 2014 is shaping up to be pretty great itself.

Some of the albums on this list are being shrink-wrapped as we speak, while others are in the early-stages of creation or are simply hearsay. This is in no way an exhaustive list of the music to come in 2014, but simply an overview of the music we’re pretty dang excited about.

So go ahead – read on to find out what we’re looking forward to in 2014 and then hit the replies to share your most anticipated music of the new year!

We Are the In Crowd – Weird Kids (February 18, 2014 – Hopeless)

we_are_the_in_crowdWe Are the In Crowd made their mark on the scene in 2011 when they dropped their poppy, infectious debut album, Best Intentions. Since then, the band has toured relentlessly and grown from the new kids on the block to a force to be reckoned with. Weird Kids may prove to be a much more biting and aggressive release than their debut judging from lead single “The Best Thing (That Never Happened)”, which is just fine with us. Vocalist Tay Jardine possesses the chops and gusto that may lead to crossover success for this pop punk act. – Kiel Hauck

Blink-182 – Untitled (Sometime 2014 – DGC)

blink_182It’s been a little over a year since Blink 182 has released any new songs, and it seems like we’re due. Neighborhoods was a good return album for the group after their hiatus, but it lacked the charm that Blink is known for. However, the Dogs Eating Dogs EP seemed to have solved most of those issues and gave the band their lifeblood again. With the energy of their recent live shows as any indication, it looks like Blink 182 are finally back to full power, and with any luck, 2014 will be the year of the next great Blink album. – Kyle Schultz

Issues – Issues (February 18, 2014 – Rise)

issuesIssues rise in the metalcore scene has been a particularly quick one. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the band is composed of well-known names in the scene and features a fresh kick to the nearly worn out genre. Fronted by screamer Michael Bohn and crooner Tyler Carter, Issues offers an alluring vocal back and forth with an added post-hardcore crunch and nu-metal-esque scratches and breakdowns. The band’s debut Black Diamonds EP sounded promising, but their recently released work in lead up to their self-titled debut sounds polished and punishing. – KH

Say Anything – Untitled (Sometime 2014 – Equal Vision)

say_anythingMax Bemis announced quite a while ago that Say Anything’s next album would be out in 2014 after taking a brief break this year. While his newer albums are a bit toned down from the explosive releases early on in the band’s career, any time a new Say Anything album is announced, it’s an exciting event. As Bemis changes his style slightly for each new album, it’s an experience sure to be enraptured in summersault guitar solos, extravagant chord changes and memorable lyrics. – KS

Chiodos – Untitled (March 2014 – Razor & Tie)

ChiodosBelieve it or not, it’s been nearly two years since Craig Owens announced his return to Chiodos. The promise of new music has hovered since then, and recent tours have given very little indication into what we can expect from the post-hardcore act’s fourth studio album. Surely the addition of guitarist Thomas Erak is an exciting one that should add a new flash and power to the band’s recordings, but little has been revealed about what the final product will sound like. One way or the other, we’re excited to hear what the band drops in March. – KH

The Early November – Untitled (Sometime 2014 – Hopeless)

the_early_novemberThe Early November have announced that they will have a new album out in the spring, which was an amazing early Christmas present. Marking the second release since the band reunited, this follow-up to last year’s In Currents will be a tough sell, but each release by the group has been able to top itself, so we have reason to be excited. With the recent debut of new song “Better That Way”, it looks like The Early November are not only sticking to their original musical style, but perfecting it. – KS

Frank Ocean – Untitled (Sometime 2014 – Def Jam)

frank_oceanAccording to Frank Ocean, he’s already hard at work on new songs to be included on his next album. It will be hard to top Channel Orange, but if there’s anyone out there that can keep our expectations high, it’s Ocean. His creative process is a mysterious one, leaving the possibility that we may not receive a new album this year, or even the next. With any luck, we won’t have to wait long to see what he has in store. In the meantime, we’ll throw on Channel Orange, which sounds just as fresh and captivating as it did upon its release. – KH

The Gaslight Anthem – Untitled (Sometime 2014 – Mercury)

the-gaslight-anthemThe Gaslight Anthem are busy as usual. They not only plan to keep pace in releasing a new record every two years, but they also just released the Here Comes My Man EP and are prepping for a B-side album this month. Keeping this busy though, each record the band has put out has been better than the last and has helped create a unique sound all their own; a healthy mix of Bruce Springsteen and punk rock. After the beauty of last year’s Handwritten, whatever Gaslight puts out is worthy of adoration and sure to be another entry in an already incredibly impressive discography. – KS

Kanye West and Jay Z – Watch the Throne 2 (Sometime 2014 – Def Jam)

kanye-jayzThe word was that once Ye and Jay dropped their solo albums, a follow-up to 2011’s Watch the Throne would be in store. Rumblings suggest that this may very well be the case, but when the album will emerge is a mystery. Regardless, we know well enough that Kanye’s Yeezus was one of the most impressive and unsettling albums of 2013, while Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail was…well, underwhelming. However, these two seem to bring out the best in each other and we all eagerly await their next offering. – KH

Noel Gallagher – Untitled (Late 2014 – Sour Mash)

Noel-GallagherNoel Gallagher is sadly underappreciated in this country, as is his current band The High Flying Birds. But the former Oasis writer and guitarist is not only reported as writing a new record, but has claimed that it includes some of the best songs he’s ever written. As the genius behind most of Oasis’s legendary hits (“Don’t Look Back In Anger”, “Wonderwall”) that’s not only a big claim, but a battle cry to outdo his stellar debut solo album. It’s currently unknown whether it will maintain the orchestral acoustic ballads of the original album or revert to Gallagher’s trademark guitar rock, but it honestly doesn’t matter: his songs are just that good. – KS

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.