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Review: Selections from Noel Gallagher's New Album, 'High Flying Birds'

Last night (August 25), GuitarWorld.com's Josh Hart and I attended a listening session for Noel Gallagher's upcoming post-Oasis solo album, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, which comes out November 8 on Sour Mash Records.

Gallagher showed up, by the way.

Allow me to set the scene:

The event took place on the roof (and in an adjoining penthouse suite) of the Mondrian Hotel Soho on Crosby Street in New York City. This meant that, along with the new Gallagher tunes, we also were treated to one of the best-possible views of Lower Manhattan at sunset, not to mention free mixed drinks, which were named after songs from the new album. I made several trips to the bar for a drink called the "Record Machine" -- plus an obligatory beer or two (and a pocketful of spring rolls).

Listeners got to hear six songs from the album, including "The Death Of You And Me," which can be downloaded at Gallagher's website. The five other titles were "Everybody's On The Run," "Dream On," "If I Had A Gun...," "(I Wanna Live In A Dream With My) Record Machine" and "AKA... What A Life!"

I don't know if all those Record Machines, beers and spring rolls had any influence on my judgement, but I must admit: The six Gallagher tunes were easily among the best music I've heard in 2011. This is saying something, because I usually hate everything after one listen.

First of all, it's obvious that Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer and the other Beady Eye blokes took one element of late-period Oasis' sound with them -- the heavy guitars and "rock 'n' roll band" feel -- leaving Noel with the great, soaring melodies -- also leaving him, in a sense, with pure composition without the constraints of the preconceived way a particular band or artist is supposed to sound.

Some of the tunes reminded me of top-notch Oasis B-sides, which, as any Oasis fan knows, is a very good thing. The instrumentation varied from track to track, sometimes acoustic, sometimes atmospheric and dreamy; I thought I heard a Mellotron during "Record Machine," which had a Beatles-inspired feel and beat, much like George Harrison's "When We Was Fab."

Some tunes were slow, moody kings of the minor key; others were upbeat and catchy, surpassing "The Death Of You And Me" in hook-ery and riff-ery. By the way, "The Death Of You And Me," with its New Orleans-influenced brass solo break, is a prime example of the new freedom Gallagher is displaying with High Flying Birds.

"There are no guitars on the album," said Gallagher, upon hearing we were from Guitar World.

"No, I heard a guitar solo in 'Record Machine,' " I said.

"Yeah, there are two solos on the whole album," he said.

Anyway, just so it's out there, the six songs I heard were brilliant. I can't wait to hear the rest of the album.

Stay tuned for a full interview with Gallagher on GuitarWorld.com in the very near future. And check out the video for "The Death Of You And Me," below:

Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World. Although he just bought a goldtop Les Paul in 2008, he can't help but think it's time for another Les Paul ... maybe a used one ... 'burst finish ... low action ... thin neck ... an '81 would be nice ...

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Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.