Tag Archives: AllMusic

“The Wonderwall Album”

Happy Almost February! I hope you’re not stressed out to your eyeballs like I am! I made a New Years’ resolution to post once every 2 weeks at least. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t hold to that, but at least this is #2 for January, right?

I’ve got a good one for this week. It was supposed to be my last post but I scrapped it for TLSP and rewrote it anew for today.

Album: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Artist: Oasis

Oasis_-_(What's_The_Story)_Morning_Glory_album_cover

Why am I writing about Oasis? Good question. I guess I like a challenge. But what can you say about Oasis that hasn’t already been said? Nothing, if we’re being honest.

But I like to think of myself as a one stop shop for album information, so maybe if you’re reading you’ll learn something you didn’t know already.

Oasis was obviously a staple of the 90s. They’re one of those bands that makes me cry every time. Their albums have been hailed as record-breakers, they’ve made it on too many “greatest” lists to count, and they were one of the greatest acts in Britpop ever. They were big from the beginning — they formed in 1991, and their debut album, Definitely Maybe, was the fastest selling debut album in the UK at the time of its release.

Now, a little history about the band’s members: The band was initially formed by Liam Gallagher as “The Rain,” but eventually they invited his older brother Noel to join. Noel came on as lead guitarist with the agreement that he would do all of the writing for the band. Both brothers were big partiers and they had quite the reputation for their sibling rivalry, and one brother or the other was constantly leaving the band for some reason or another. The band swapped several drummers over the years, but more people were concerned with the fights Liam and Noel would get into.

Oasis also had a reputation in the media for their rivalry with Damon Albarn’s band Blur (see also the Gorillaz), since both bands were heading the Britpop movement. From what I understand, Noel and Albarn have put aside their differences since the 90s.

Eventually, the band broke up in 2009. Liam went on to form Beadey Eye and Noel went on to form Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (who happen to be playing at the Ryman on my birthday, hint hint Mom and Dad).

Also, for the purposes of discussing Oasis’ music, I feel like I should mention that Noel Gallagher and Oasis have successfully been sued at least once for plagiarism.

But on to what you guys really want to hear about, right? The Wonderwall Album.

Just kidding. It’s called (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and it’s awesome. It was released in October of 1995 (I mean, how 90s can you get?) on Creation Records and it sold over 300,000 copies in it’s first week. In fact, as of 2014, it was rank as the fifth best-selling album in the UK, and at the time, it was the third fastest-selling album in the UK. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and made it in the top 10 all over the world. Now that’s just impressive. Rolling Stone even included it on their 100 Best Albums of the 90s and their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time lists.

The album included many of the band’s most well-known singles, including “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” “Some Might Say,” and “Champagne Supernova.” I’d argue those are the only four Oasis songs a lot of people know. They aren’t the best on the album though — not to say they aren’t good, because they are.

I really find the material on WTSMG? fascinating. I can’t help but feel incredibly nostalgic every time I listen to it. Maybe it’s Noel’s lyrics — “Where were you while we were getting high?” — but there’s something about them that always captures your attention. Of course, Noel himself says most of the lyrics on the album were gibberish, but Liam disagrees. Even if they don’t mean anything to Noel, they still mean something — but let’s be honest, no one’s really sure what that meaning might be.

Regardless, his writing style mimics that of John Lennon better than anyone I’ve ever seen (and that might be because he’s ripped off a few of his lines here and there, but I digress). Lines like “Slowly walking down the hall/faster than a cannonball,” found in “Champagne Supernova” are exactly what I’m talking about. And he’s so consistent. “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” undoubtedly a tribute to John Lennon’s “Imagine” (it opens with the same piano chords, after all) does it best with lines like “So I’ll start a revolution from my bed/Cause you said the brains I had went to my head.” I’m pretty sure Noel got that one from Lennon himself, actually.

As AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine put it: “This is where his genius lies: He’s a thief and doesn’t have many original thoughts, but as a pop/rock melodicist he’s pretty much without peer.”

And he’s right. Noel might not always be completely original, but he’s easily one of the best songwriters of his generation. He brings the best from the artists he idolizes and mixes them together to create a movement. His soaring melodies and clever lyrics combine to give the album so much variance, and it all culminates into these feelings you’re left with as a listener as image after image is painted for you with words. There’s a ring of sadness to a lot of the material that I know I’m not imagining.

It definitely means something.

And while I generally think Noel Gallagher was the better vocalist (who doesn’t love the chorus in “Don’t Look Back In Anger”?), I’ll be upfront and say that without Liam’s vocals this album wouldn’t be the same. He’s forceful when he needs to be, cheeky when it’s called for, and his voice adds to the nostalgia I feel every time I listen. He brings something different to the words than I think Noel would — and that’s the beauty of it.

Oasis had a tumultuous run, but I think that’s why they rock with the best of them. Liam and Noel both have a lot of passion for the music and they both poured their hearts and souls into it. And I think that’s the reason for the nostalgia — their feelings take hold of yours. And that’s the genius found in (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

 

What are your thoughts on (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Love it? Hate it? Comment here, Facebook or Twitter! Until next time, keep listening.

Honorable Mentions: “Cast No Shadow,” “Some Might Say,” “She’s Electric,” “Morning Glory”

Information pulled from Oasis’s band page, AllMusic.com, and Billboard.com

Advertisements

Understated Indeed

Oh, New Years. Last year I’m pretty sure I made the resolution to keep up with my blog, and that went fantastically unwell. So I’ll make the same resolution this year, but honestly, I can’t promise anything cause I’m taking 18 hours next semester (because obviously I must love stressing myself out).

Honestly, this post was originally going to be about Oasis. I’ve been feeling hella nostalgic for the 90s lately and sometimes when I need a good cry I listen to “Champaign Supernova” and just eat my feelings. But plans change, and I decided to write about The Last Shadow Puppets instead,  because 2016 is the year of their return and I’ve been a little obsessed with The Age of the Understatement lately.

I’ve literally been working on this post for like a week now. It was tough to write so cut me some slack on this one.

Album: The Age of the Understatement
Artist: The Last Shadow Puppets

TLSP

The Last Shadow Puppets are undoubtedly one of my favorite supergroups — if you can call them that. The project is something Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner and his bestie Miles Kane (of The Little Flames at the time) threw together after both bands toured together in 2007. While both of them are members of successful groups, I have a hard time classifying TLSP as a supergroup honestly. I just don’t think of them like I do, say, Them Crooked Vultures. I sort of like to imagine Turner and Kane are just BFFs who like to rock out together — sort of like me and my bestie, if we had musical talent.

While Turner and Kane initially started writing for the project in 2007 while touring together, the project didn’t really come together until 2008. Most of The Age of the Understatement was recorded with producer/drummer James Ford at Blackbox Studios in France, and with the help of Final Fantasy (AKA Owen Pallett) and the London Metropolitan Orchestra, the album became the best compilation of music you didn’t realize you need in your life.

The Age of the Understatement dropped in April of 2008 on Domino Records and the band embarked on a brief tour. A few shows were played with a 16 piece orchestra, which is just hella cool. The project has such a unique sound — like James Bond come to life — and seeing them with an orchestra would just be magical.

Speaking of the sound though, the duo list their main influences as Scott Walker (the musician, not the politician) and early Bowie, but the cunning lyrics found on the album are obviously influenced by John Lennon and several other late 60s artists as well. Ultimately, the album comes together to sounds like something you’d hear in a spy movie. The sweeping strings coupled with that 60s rock band sounds remind you of secret agents, long dresses, big jewelry — the kind of glamour and suave style that you’d find in a 60s film. It takes you on an adventure to another place, but as Heather Phares put it in her review, the album doesn’t overstay its welcome. Most of the tracks on the album fall short of the three-minute mark and it ultimately makes for a short listen.

To start, The Age of the Understatement kicks off with its title track. There’s a kind of urgency to the album — it begins with a fierce tympani roll and the forceful vocals you’d expect from Alex Turner. But the whole album isn’t like that, though it maintains its rigor. The album lightens up with “Standing Next To Me,” but the sweeping “Calm Like You” reminds the listener of just how awesome Alex Turner is at his vocals. Lines like “Accidents and toffee drops/And thinking on the train,” keep the 60s dream alive with the addition of a great horn section, and Turner handles the vast chorus like it’s nothing.

And let’s just be honest for a moment here. Sam Smith, you can step aside. TLSP would school you in a 007-off any day, despite having never actually written a Bond theme. In fact, the ever so suave “My Mistakes Were Made For You” could probably even hold its own against Adele (blaspheme, I know). The elusive femme fatale that seems to haunt many of the songs on the album seems like she would fit in perfectly as a Bond Girl. As Turner sings “And in the backroom of a bad dream she came/and whisked me away enthused,” you can just imagine the type of girl she is. Lines like “And it, the fame that put words in her mouth/She couldn’t help but spit them out/Innocence and arrogance entwined, in the filthiest of minds” only add to the picture. Add in a few harmon mutes, toss in the strings, throw in a key change. It’s all there: the perfect Bond theme.

Admittedly, some tracks such as “Separate And Ever Deadly” and “I Don’t Like You Anymore” sound like something the Arctic Monkeys might play, but The Last Shadow Puppets manage to separate themselves from the other members’ separate projects. The album manages to keep up it’s tempo but varies stylistically in a way that keeps everything interesting. In short, it’s a work of art.

No wonder everyone is so excited for their return. They’ve only been teasing us for 8 years now.

I’ll attach a video below for those who are interested in the band. Until next time (because who knows when that will be), keep listening. And watch out for The Last Shadow Puppets’ new album, coming soon!

Honorable Mentions: The Chamber, Black Plant, The Meeting Place (or just Meeting Place, depending on where you live), Time Has Come Again (or The Time Has Come Again, depending on where you live)

 

*This post contains a link to Heather Phares’ review of the album, found on AllMusic.com