May 10, 2010

And as the day was dawning, my plane flew away with all the things caught in my mind

seabright beach 050810

Don’t Go Away (acoustic with strings) – Noel Gallagher

This song feels completely perfect this morning – such a wistful, humble, earnest little song. I don’t often find myself in an Oasis mood, but the news of a Liam Gallagher Beatles movie (no one saw that coming) led me to delve and talk a bit about their songs and the ones that stick with me.

This one is the flawless complement to this silvery-grey swirl of conflicting feelings I always have after a visceral few days back in my hometown. Solo Noel Gallagher renditions are often my favorites of the Oasis catalog, and the addition of the strings makes it even more right. When I listen to this song, it vibrates with youth and a sort of naive longing.

This is from The Dreams We Have As Children, released by Noel last year as a fundraiser for the Teenage Cancer Trust. The full album includes guest spots by Paul Weller and a host of b-sides and rarities from the Oasis catalog. You can stream the whole thing on Lala (for the next 21 days).

[photo: my cell phone snap. Saturday night, Seabright beach]

May 1, 2008

New Paul Weller & Noel Gallagher collaboration: “Echoes Round The Sun”

The Stereogum ‘Gum Drop featured a brand new collaboration between Jam-master Paul Weller and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher yesterday, from Weller’s forthcoming album 22 Dreams (Yep Roc, June 24). Read more about the album and other guests stars here.

Of this track, Weller explains, “Noel came down to the studio with this loop he’d never been able to do anything with. He played the bass and the piano and then Gem played guitar on top. I extemporized some vocals over the top. In songwriting terms, it’s the first Weller/Gallagher collaboration.”

The results are surprising — not what I had imagined, but ultimately I dig the loopy coolness. I also just realized how much the intro riff reminds me of the epic “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” by U2:

Echoes Round The Sun – Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher & Gem Archer
(Yep Roc changed their minds – stream it here)

March 7, 2008

Oasis covering Ryan Adams, covering Oasis

I like this concept immensely. Back in 2006, Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer did a series of ace live semi-acoustic shows, and at the show on November 26th at London’s Union Chapel they performed Ryan Adams’ arrangement of their song “Wonderwall.” So, so cool to hear them taking on his haunting interpretation, even down to that winding countermelody that Ryan weaves into it.

Wonderwall (Ryan Adams arrangement) – Noel Gallagher & Gem Archer

This is very similar to the version they played in Toronto on Nov 6 – lovely.

October 6, 2007

Live Forever & the Britpop explosion (“I’ve been on the shelf too long / now it’s time to hear my song”)

Britain in the mid-90s was a chaotic, creative, music-centric place to be. As Thatcher’s tenure as PM ended and a fresh start began under Tony Blair and the New Labour party, there was a simultaneous crackle and thrum of musical vibrancy that is explored in the 2003 documentary Live Forever (by filmmaker John Dower). On the surface it’s the story of the music, the “Britpop sound” and those who made it, but it also tries to get deeper underneath to look at the society at that moment and what fed this burgeoning supernova.

As a complete outsider to this specific moment in world history myself, but a fan of the music that ended up on my plate because of it, I thought it was fascinating to see one view of the context behind it. As Louise Wener from the band Sleeper says of those days, “There was a sense of a kind of excitement that something was changing — perhaps this music was foreshadowing something else.” The documentary undertakes the Herculean task of trying to examine the music through the social and political context of the mid-90s, teasing out its larger implications to the fabric of a generation. This is always tricky.

The story is mostly told through first person interviews from those who were there. You’ve got the big three represented in Oasis, Blur and Pulp, but also a number of other musicians and commentators. These conversations were illuminating and entertaining — not counting a few statements of general unfair snobbery related to my own culture, like “Americans have tremendous confidence, but not much talent,” and one remark that I obviously vehemently disagreed with regarding Seattle music of the time: “The only really decent group were Nirvana” (I said “Unh!” to myself and looked around at no one else sitting there with me, in indignation).

Along with snippets of music videos, concerts, newsclips and articles, the interviews carry the bulk of the story. Damon Albarn seems to have grown up quite a bit, his segments were pensive and thoughtful, accompanied by his strumming on a ukulele. Jarvis Cocker had some fantastic stories of those years and I enjoyed hearing his articulate reflection (but really, whatever he says, I just love his voice – deliciously smarmy and all rich velvet molasses). Liam was a complete wanker for most of his bits –so secure in his obvious awesomeness, relentlessly turning questions back around on the filmmakers, giving evasive answers, sitting there with that haircut and those mirrored shades sounding like he’s got a mouthful of marbles– but Noel was hilarious and awesome. Example: Towards the end, Noel’s talking about how they were in a studio one day next door to the prepubescent dance-pop of S Club 7, and how he seriously thought they were “special needs kids” there for a tour of the studios and for the free food. Touche.

The film goes through the peak years of the Britpop sound, which were right smack in the middle of my high school years — a time when pretty much every single act coming out of Britain making pop/rock music was tagged part of “The Britpop Movement.” As surely as so-called “grunge bands” of ’90s Seattle shrugged away from the label, many of these Britpop bands weren’t thrilled with the simplistic categorization, but it did create a crackling excitement and level of buzz for their music that took them places they otherwise wouldn’t have gone just a decade prior.

So which Britain was it?

Is it the carefree abandonment of youth epitomized by Supergrass frolicking on the beach, singing lines like:

We are young, we run green, keep our teeth, nice and clean
see our friends, see the sights, feel alright

We wake up, we go out, smoke a fag, put it out
see our friends, see the sights, feel alright

But we are young, we get by, can’t go mad, ain’t got time
Sleep around, if we like, but we’re alright

The disaffected uncertainty (yet faith in music) of The Verve in “This Is Music”?

I stand accused, just like you
for being born without a silver spoon
Stood at the top of a hill
Over my town I was found

I’ve been on the shelf too long
Sitting at home on my bed too long
Got my things and now I’m gone
How’s the world gonna take me?

. . . Well music is my life and loved by me
I’m gonna move on the floor with my sweet young thing
Down down down, down we go
till I reach the bottom of my soul
This is music

Blur’s cocky questioning of having it all in “Parklife”?
The paranoia and ‘the sound of loneliness turned up to ten’ of Pulp’s “Fear”?
The indomitable conviction that you and I are gonna live forever?

Listening to the variety of sounds coming out of Britain at the time –all classified by someone or another as Britpop– shows you a bit of how meaningless the term really was. In the film, an interviewer asks Jarvis Cocker of Pulp as he sits on his bed by an open window, curtain fluttering in the breeze, about how his song Common People was called by one reviewer, “the perfect encapsulation of the Britpop aesthetic.” Jarvis just shakes his head, sighs a little, and says, “Oh no.”

Regardless of what it all means (and really, who knows what it all means), this is good music, and the film is 86 minutes well spent.

I had a lot of fun putting this mix together after watching the documentary, combining songs I remember liking the first time around with new discoveries and recommendations from friends on that side of the Pond. According to the film, the Britpop sound inhabited a relatively ephemeral period of time, starting ’round 1992, hitting boiling point in April ’94 with the release of Blur’s Parklife, followed in August by Oasis’ Definitely Maybe. In a similar scene that echoes the film Hype!, bands were getting signed at the height of the frenzy after having played together for mere weeks, with only a handful of songs written.

Some say that the death of the era came with a resounding thud in August ’97 with the release of the cocaine haze manifesto Be Here Now by Oasis. Other say it ended more around the time that footballer Gareth Southgate missed a penalty kick in the Euro ’96 semifinals against Germany. Come on. Is an era that exact? Go ahead and argue either way, influences started before then and the sound carried on after, but I’ve tried to mostly focus my own little mix in the thick of things, from ’94-’97.

And as with any label, you can debate it til the cows come home who fits into the category or not, so some of these may not gel in your mind as Britpop. I lack the immediate expert knowledge in this area, being more of a “grunge rock” girl myself when this was all going down (I shudder at that term, see?!). Snag the whole zip, enjoy the flow for some perfect weekend listening. In general, these make me feel a jaunty sense of optimism — and maybe slightly disaffected, but such were the Nineties, right?

Waterfall – The Stone Roses
Alright – Supergrass
God! Show Me Magic – Super Furry Animals
This Is Music – Verve
Parklife – Blur
Kelly’s Heroes – Black Grape
Common People (live at Melkweg 1995) – Pulp
Interview clip from Knebworth ’96 – Noel Gallagher

(discussing Kula Shaker & Liam’s Musical Tastes)
Hey Dude – Kula Shaker
Alright (live at Glastonbury) – Cast
Change – The Lightning Seeds
Faster – Manic Street Preachers
Wake Up Boo – The Boo Radleys
Lenny Valentino – The Auteurs
Line Up – Elastica
Step Into My World – Hurricane #1
Animal Nitrate – Suede
Hundred Mile City – Ocean Colour Scene
Getting Better – Shed Seven
She Makes My Nose Bleed – Mansun
Girl From Mars – Ash
Be My Light, Be My Guide (live) – Gene
The Fear – Pulp
The Only One I Know – The Charlatans
Live Forever (live at Glastonbury) – Oasis


It’s worth noting that although some of these groups didn’t survive the end of the decade, many of them have gone on continue recording music that is just as good (and in may cases better) than their mid-Nineties output. Verve is reuniting and touring, Jarvis Cocker has a swanky euro-cool solo album out now, I rather liked Ocean Colour Scene’s last one, and Ash just rocked my world with their newest single. Media frenzy or no, the talent lasts.

It’s as James (the band from Manchester) said in the fantastic smack of their 1998 song “Destiny Calling”:

So we may be gorgeous, so we may be famous —
come back when we’re getting old.”

April 9, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

One of the big important early steps in starting a band is that all-important decision of what to call yourselves. Has to be something that will entice people to take a listen, but with just the right edge to it. If there is some hip in-joke connotation that could work too.

So here’s your first stop: the massive Wikipedia page devoted to Fictional Band Names in popular culture. From Hey That’s My Bike to Sonic Death Monkey to yes, even Fingerbang, they’re all here, waiting to be loved, discussed and revived. I found it immensely amusing.

Here’s what I am listening to this week:

Brandi Carlile
The new sophomore full-length album from Brandi Carlile is out now on Columbia, and I like the direction she is heading. Her work with T Bone Burnett (Counting Crows, Roy Orbison, Gillian Welch) is so flawlessly treated that I can almost forgive him for his cut-of-meat moniker. The Story was recorded live, directly to 2″ tape in eleven days, and possesses a very immediate, raw, timeless, soulful quality – four words that pretty much sum up Brandi for me. This song is completely charming from the opening notes, and finds a nice experiment with piano, which I always love. ALSO: Obligatory Pearl Jam connection, if you can believe it — drummer for this album is Matt Chamberlain, early drummer for Pearl Jam, appears in the video for Alive. I was thrilled to hear that. Although Ten this ain’t, she does bring the rock on tunes like the wailing-howl of a title track.

The Neptunes (Pharrell feat. Jay-Z)
You think you love your Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z for gettin’ your party on, but also laughed at Jamie Cullum’s frank and swingin’ treatment of this tune from Pharrell and Co. — then you need the original. I’d been meaning to seek this one out and finally did, off 2003′s The Neptunes Present . . . Clones. I’m reminded of how great the synthy, sexy, throwback sound of this hit single from Summer ’03 is, and I’m a step ahead because I already know all the lyrics thanks to Jamie. Well, except for maybe the bridge: “…like you were just another shorty I put the naughty on.” I’m workin’ on it.

Someday Soon
Gin Blossoms
My recent mention of the Empire Records movie (another one I know all too well, as in whole segments of dialogue, front-to-back) reminded me of the lead-off track from the fab soundtrack with the Gin Blossoms. Did you even catch that those guys released a new album last year after ten years? Called Major Lodge Victory, it sounds exactly like, well, circa-1995 Gin Blossoms. But they picked one sound and do it well, and I am finding myself loving this song for driving and harmonizing along. It’s got great “whoooooooos,” soaring guitar bits, and even a litle foray into the Cher-tastic world of Vocoder effects.

Fly Paper
This is my second mention of Trinidad-Canadian artist k-os (“chaos”), but I just got the full album Atlantis: Hymns for Disco (which is finally available stateside) and the eclectic blend of old-school beats, fresh hip hop, authentic island vibes is making it one hell of a party album that you really can’t sit still for. It’s thoroughly enjoyable all the way through. The only weakness is some fairly simplistic aphorisms-masquerading-as-lyrics (“I’m caught between a rock and a hard place” / “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it“), but I’m definitively not in it for the lyrics. As the song begins, the voice of an old-time radio announcer inquires, “Feeling stuck? Self-loathing? Shoegazing? – Try new supersonic Fly Paper . . .it’s catchy!” And indeed, this could be the perfect cure for the common indie kid feeling too mopey to shake it.

Free Love Freeway
David Brent/Ricky Gervais with Noel Gallagher
I was reminded of this little smarmy gem from a recent gorge on British Office courtesy of the library DVD I snagged. I was watching Season One (and I know this is anathema, but not feelin’ it as much as the American version, probably because the British version just lacks Jim Halpert. And Dwight. And Michael.) and this is a classic from the most painful staff meeting you never had to attend. Dig the priceless lyrics like “Free love on the freelove freeway, the love is free and the freeway’s long. I got some hot love on the hot love highway . . .” Now, exactly how Noel Gallagher got involved in the studio version of this is an enigma to me, but this pokes some mighty good fun at bad music.

February 23, 2007

That Noel Gallagher track behind Ian Brown’s “Keep What Ya Got”

Thanks to my astute listeners out there, now we know that not only does Noel Gallagher play lead guitar on the Ian Brown song “Keep What Ya Got” (which I love), but also that it is a re-working of a song that Noel wrote for the X-Files movie called “Teotihuacan.”

Here’s the atmospheric original:

Teotihuacan – Noel Gallagher

I just could not just leave Britney’s bald dome staring out at all you Friday night visitors, hence the hasty post on my way out the door. Arrivederci!

November 11, 2006

Noel Gallagher acoustic in Toronto – 7 Nov 2006

Following his appearance in New York for the premiere of the new Oasis tour documentary Lord Don’t Slow Me Down (which involves girls flashing their boobies at the Gallagher lads, and midgets jumping out of cakes?), Noel Gallagher played a glittering acoustic set in Toronto last Tuesday with guitarist Gem Archer. Thanks to James in Ontario, I’ve got a splendid recording of the full show for you in mp3 (the same setlist he played Thursday in Los Angeles). It is laden with rarities and b-sides, and even a Beatles cover. I’ve always preferred Oasis songs that Noel takes lead on, and as Torr says with his characteristic frankness and humor, this is “a glimpse into how great Noel could be without his knobhead of a brother.”

Noel Gallagher
November 7, 2006
Danforth Music Hall, Toronto

01. It’s Good To Be Free
02. Talk Tonight
03. Fade Away
04. Cast No Shadow
05. The Importance of Being Idle
06. Listen Up
07. Half The World Away
08. Wonderwall
09. Whatever
10. Slide Away
11. Strawberry Fields
12. Don’t Look Back In Anger
13. Married With Children


October 31, 2006

AOL, like, totally wants to go to the next Cold War Kids show with you

I am a little confused by the AOL Music Indie Blog. The first time I heard of it, it just sounded like a non-sequitur to me, like a math equation that does not compute. AOL = indie?

They are using their gigantic corporate conglomerate muscle and huge subscriber base to draw these great podcasts from a wide variety of (mostly) smaller independent artists.

I suppose I could just enjoy and keep my mouth shut, but I just have to admit my hesitancy in having AOL be my source for, like, a Josh Rouse interview. Isn’t that what smaller labels and independent radio stations are for? The performances are great so I can’t complain, but I have to admit that the concept kind of rubs me the wrong way.

I know, I know – get over it, and listen to these:

RECENT PODCASTS (the links are to mp3 of podcast) -

M. Ward
(performing Chinese Translation, To Go Home, Paul’s Song)

Cat Power
(performing Love & Communication, John John, Satisfaction, Ramblin’ Man)

Noel Gallagher
(performing It’s Good To Be Free, Whatever, Slide Away)

The Lemonheads
(performing No Backbone, Why Do You Do This To Yourself, My Drug Buddy)

Nada Surf
(performing 8 songs — now that’s just crazy talk: Concrete Bed, What Is Your Secret?, Always Love, Hyperspace, Blizzard of ’77, 80 Windows, Happy Kid, Blankest Year)

José González
(performing Crosses, Deadweight on Velveteen, Lovestain, Heartbeats)

Josh Rouse
(performing Quiet Town and Givin’ It Up)

Jamie Lidell
(performing Game For Fools, What’s The Use, Multiply)

August 2, 2006

Purple parallelogram I got in Amsterdam (made me dream a dream I didn’t understand)

I’ve had this one in my queue for months now, and heartily singing it out the other day in my car made me finally decide to post it up. This is a rockin’ little pop song, written by Noel Gallagher from Oasis and Evan Dando from The Lemonheads. According to Dando, speaking around the time of the release of Definitely Maybe: “We met about a month ago and hit it off, then last night we collided in Paris. We’d both been playing the Lowlands festival in Holland this weekend and we wrote a song together called ‘Purple Parallelogram.’”

Purple Parallelogram – The Lemonheads/Evan Dando

A friend once bet me a shiny nickel that no version existed of Noel Gallagher singing this:

Purple ParallelogramNoel Gallagher

It does, it does. It’s rough, but fun.

Makes us all want sing heartily about psychedelic drug excursions (but not in front of the kids).

July 12, 2006

Party like a rockstar. Or a soccer player. How ’bout both?

I am going through slight World Cup withdrawal, and I thought that this piece of news/celebrity gossip so perfectly melded music and the Italian soccer team that it was a necessary bit to share (from The Sun Online):

Noel Gallagher was the toast of the Italy team after their World Cup triumph on Sunday.

The footie-mad Manc has been the Azzurri’s lucky mascot through the key stages of Germany ’06 after striking up a friendship with goal ace Alessandro Del Piero. And the Juventus star invited Noel back to the team’s hotel to enjoy a champagne super knees-up after the big match.

Mop-top Noel, who was at more games in Germany than David Beckham, even borrowed new chum Alessandro’s acoustic guitar and belted out a rendition of “Don’t Look Back In Anger.”

The players thought it was bellissimo. A source tells me: “Noel has been in touch with Alessandro all through the tournament. He has been a lucky charm for the Italian team and seemed to do the trick again in the final. Del Piero invited him back to the team hotel to enjoy the party and Noel jumped at the chance. Not all the players know Noel from OASIS but they all seemed to pick up the band’s lyrics pretty quickly, and they were all singing along when he performed ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ in the hotel bar. The champagne was flowing and Noel was a big part of the party.”

And if defeat wasn’t bad enough for our boys, the England squad now have another reason to hang their heads in shame — having given one of our finest musical talents little choice but to defect to the opposition.

Noel befriended Del Piero and ex-Italian captain Paulo Maldini after an Oasis gig in Turin — the home of Juventus — three years ago. They kept in touch and Noel swaps gig tickets with them for seats at Champions League games. Noel said: “Alessandro is an Oasis fan and after one concert he gave me a pair of his boots. But I had to give one to Liam. I’d never seen Italy live until the semi-final against Germany in Dortmund last week. We went to the team hotel before the game and Del Piero was a bit upset because he wasn’t in their starting line-up.

“Then he told me, ‘I’m going to come off the bench and score’ — and that’s exactly what he did. Afterwards he said I’d become his lucky mascot and he’s so superstitious he told me I had to go to the final and wear exactly the same clothes to bring him good luck — right down to my socks and underwear.”


Okay, that last sentence is maybe a bit weird. Here’s one final soccer-related tune, sent in to me by a reader. This main theme was used in the Adidas +10 commericals (“If you don’t give my football back, I’m gonna get my dad on you . . .”) that ran throughout the World Cup, from a musician named Jim Noir, also from Manchester. Playful & lovely.

Eanie Meany – Jim Noir

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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