The Lonely Minotaur

Music & Concert Reviews

Liam Gallagher Strikes Back With Why Me? Why Not. — September 22, 2019

Liam Gallagher Strikes Back With Why Me? Why Not.

Liam Gallagher has been on one hell of a roll since officially announcing his solo career in the summer of 2017. Out of the devastating breakup of Oasis in 2009 and later the ashes of Beady Eye in 2014, Liam has not only resurrected his good name and public perception but also delivered not one, but two well rounded solo albums. As You Were set the table in October 2017 proving that Liam could successfully navigate a post Oasis world without his big brother Noel guiding the way both lyrically and sonically. That album would go on to be a #1 record in the UK, become one of the biggest sellers in England that year and his concert venue sizes would continue to bloom with each passing month. Liam jokes that soon he could play his own Knebworth. Maybe that is a bit tongue-in-cheek but he might have a solid point. Things are escalating rather quickly for Gallagher who only 4-5 years ago was down on his luck, basically out of the music business and slowly piecing his personal life back together after a bitter divorce sparked by an affair with an American journalist. 

Now in 2019 Liam has unleashed his newest solo record titled Why Me? Why Not. It’s not a grand departure from his debut which was a lot of straight forward rockers and power ballads built to be sung by legions of adoring fans. The album was previously teased with lead single “Shockwave” that feels like it was destined to be in a Guy Ritchie crime caper, followed by the swamp rock of “The River”, then the self reflective ballad “Once” which many see as an olive branch to his brother Noel and lastly “One Of Us” with its military like stomp. Four different slices of the Liam Gallagher pie that should fill the appetite of any former Oasis fan. As with As You Were, Liam reunites with uber producers Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt (fresh off an Oscar win for “Shallow”) to help craft the sounds he envisions in his head. So get ready for a steady diet of 1967 Beatles, All Things Must Pass slide guitar action and some Between To Button era Rolling Stones. 

Highlights from the album include the catchy singalong “Now That I Found You”, the driving piano rocker “Halo”, the Magic Mystery Tour drenched “Meadow” and spaghetti western tinged closer “Gone”. There is a lot more musical diversity on this album compared to As You Were and it makes for a very enjoyable listen. It must have been difficult for Liam and his management to select what songs to make singles. Pretty much all 11 tracks could be commercial enough to promote the record. It wouldn’t feel out of place to have songs like “Halo”, “Alright Now” or the title track “Why Me? Why Not” set the table for what is to come on Liam’s newest LP. When it comes to musical accessibility look no further than the men behind the controls, Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt, who really understand how to not only get the most out of a song but also the artist performing them. Liam’s good fortune of linking up with these two Hollywood hitmakers could not be better timed as both helped to solidify his solo career with some serious musical thump and prestige behind it. We can only hope that Liam’s third album isn’t too far down the road. Now about that Knebworth gig….

Grade: B+

Checkout:   “Halo”, “Why Me? Why Not.”, “Meadow”, “Gone”

Vampire Weekend Triumphant at MSG — September 8, 2019

Vampire Weekend Triumphant at MSG

The culmination of a decades worth of immense hype and hard work for the former Columbia University band was finally paid off in epic fashion Friday evening as Vampire Weekend took to the stage at a sold out Madison Square Garden. It was the band’s very first gig at the world’s most famous arena and they certainly rose to the occasion by performing a robust 32 song set that crisscrossed the groups already legendary discography. Some of the biggest cheers of the night were heard when Ezra Koenig and company ripped through VW classics such as  “M79”, “This Life”, “Harmony Hall”, “Diane Young”, “Walcott” and fan request “Ottoman”.

Also joining forces with Vampire Weekend on stage were opening act Angélique Kidjo during The Father of The Brides’ album closer “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin” as well as guitar virtuosity Steve Lacey for a cover of his own song “Dark Red” and Vampire’s “Sunflower”.  The band were in great spirits all night long and their adoring legions of fans ate it all right up. Sadly there was no surprise cameo by Danielle Haim during “Hold You Now” which is one of the real treasures from The Father of The Bride. One day it will happen. One day. In addition to being the hottest ticket in town Friday night, the band also streamed the event live on Twitter so that all who follow their music could enjoy the Garden party. Up next for the band are 53 more concert dates that will carry the band across the globe and into October 2020.

Sept. 6, 2019 — Madison Square Garden, New York

* “Bambina”

* “Unbelievers”

* “White Sky”

* “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”

* “Holiday”

* “M79”

* “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)”

* “Sympathy”

* “Unbearably White”

* “Step”

* “New Dorp. New York” (SBTRKT cover)

* “This Life”

* “Diplomat’s Son”

* “Hold You Now”

* “Harmony Hall”

* “Diane Young”

* “Cousins”

* “A-Punk”

* “Hannah Hunt”

* “2021”

* “California English”

* “Dark Red”

* “Sunflower”

* “Oxford Comma”

* “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin”

Encore

* “Big Blue”

* “Ottoman”

* “Obvious Bicycle”

* “Run”

* “Worship You”

* “Ya Hey”

* “Walcott”

Big Thief Unleash “Not”, Ready New Album — August 25, 2019

Big Thief Unleash “Not”, Ready New Album

To the surprise of many Big Thief have dropped a new single titled “Not” and also announced a new album due out on October 11, 2019 called Two Hands. Big Thief are already coming off a banner year with rave reviews for their album U.F.O.F. with many people believing it is the album of the year for 2019. I really can’t argue with that. This band is on fire at the moment with a steady stream of great albums since 2016’s Masterpiece and 2017’s Capacity. Throw in lead singer Adrianne Lenker’s solo album abysskiss from last year and it is safe to say the group is sitting on a purple patch of creativity much to listeners delight.

Our first glimpse of Two Hands is the super charged, raw and emotional “Not”. It has made the rounds as a fan favorite live track over the last few years but until now has never seen the light of day studio wise. The song features a ferocious guitar solo that runs almost 3 minutes long and would almost certainly make Neil Young blush in admiration. This is easily the best song I’ve heard all year. It is not even close.

Two Hands is described by the band as the twin sister to U.F.O.F.  and is billed as “the celestial twin” with Two Hands as “the earth twin.” Big Thief recorded the album at Sonic Ranch in the border town of Tornillo, Texas and features very little overdubbing, with an emphasis on live takes.

As Adrianne Lenker states in the press release:

“Two Hands has the songs that I’m the most proud of; I can imagine myself singing them when I’m old. Musically and lyrically, you can’t break it down much further than this. It’s already bare-bones….While you listen, let your own two hands rest in front of your body with palms facing inward and see what power grows between them.”

Two Hands:

1 “Rock And Sing”
2 “Forgotten Eyes”
3 “The Toy”
4 “Two Hands”
5 “Those Girls”
6 “Shoulders”
7 “Not”
8 “Wolf”
9 “Replaced”
10 “Cut My Hair”

Pre-order the album here.

https://bigthief.ffm.to/twohands.opr

Strange Ranger – Remembering The Rockets Review — July 28, 2019

Strange Ranger – Remembering The Rockets Review

Every once in awhile an album comes along that catches you completely off guard. That happened this very week with Strange Ranger’s fantastic new LP Remembering The Rockets. I first came into contact with this hot new young band by listening to Princeton University’s college radio station 103.3 on a drive home over the Christmas holiday in 2017. The tune played was “Most Perfect Gold of the Century” from their album Daymoon. It’s a sprawling, guitar shredding, indie gem that is equal parts Modest Mouse, Built To Spill and Crazy Horse Neil Young. A great introduction to the band. Later I’d find Daymoon on vinyl at the Princeton Record Exchange brand new for $5. A huge score for a random spring evening. Also purchased that night on vinyl was the Burial/Four Tet/ Thom Yorke collaboration from 2011 for $24. Anyways, I digressed, Remembering The Rockets is an album perfectly paired with the warm sunny summer. 

The album was teased over the last few months with the addictive bubble gum indie pop of “Leona”, the synth drenched “Living Free” and “Message To You” which channels the likes of Massive Attack crossed with Yves Tumor. It’s a total flex move having the ability to have keyboard player Fiona Woodman take over to write and sing a tune on an album that already features the pipes of lead singer/guitarist Isaac Eiger. Toss in the fact that bass player Free Nixon can also rock the mic with the best of them. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches. Isaac recently told Fader.com that The Cure’s Disintegration was a huge influence on Remembering The Rockets, not lyrically but sonically. This is clearly evident on “Sunday”, “Nothing Else To Think About” and “Living Free”. All three lean heavy on The Cure. The first two sound like the best parts of Wish, “Sunday” has hades of “Friday I’m In Love” with R.E.M. guitar jangle, and the latter of the trio is pure Disintegration bliss. 

Elsewhere on Rockets, another silky smooth indie anthem is found with “Planes In Front of the Sun”. A clear cut highlight from this album that rivals the addictive qualities of “Leona”. Also sprinkled throughout the album are three short ambient pieces of music that lend added sonic textures to an already rich palette. The best of the batch being “‘02”. The album closes with a beautiful yet melancholy ballad called “Cold Hands Warm Heart” which evokes memories of Wayne Coyne’s vocals on The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips. This is a proper album send off for one of 2019’s strongest efforts to date. I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more from this Montana/Portland/Philadelphia band over the coming years.

Grade: A-

Noel Gallagher Flying High on Record Store Day — April 19, 2019

Noel Gallagher Flying High on Record Store Day

Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds have long been friends of Record Store Day by releasing a steady stream of titles since April 2012. This year was no different as Noel brought in electronic producers Nicolas Laugier (The Reflex) and Richard Norris to rework three tracks from Gallagher’s outstanding album from 2017 Who Built The Moon? The Reflex tackled two songs for this EP release titled Wait and Return. The first being “She Taught Me How To Fly” which doesn’t at all sound like a remix. This track always reminded me of Oasis meets Technique era New Order. The Reflex plays off those ideas to extraordinary results. I’m willing to bet that many Noel Gallagher fans would have had no problem if this was the version of the song found on Who Built The Moon? It really is that good of work. Hats off to all of those involved in this remix. If you can’t tell it is a remix then mission well accomplished.

The Reflex’s second effort on the EP was “Keep On Reaching” which originally sounded more traditional with guitar, drums, bass and a little brass section with a touch of Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels swagger mixed in. Under Laugier’s direction the song gets a modern face lift and fits more in line with the direction David Holmes was trying to accomplish while producing the full blown version of Who Built The Moon? I’m sure you all remember Noel’s promise to work with an electronic producer (Holmes), write material only in the studio and expand upon his sonic palette that was only ever hinted at while doing one-off side projects over the years while in Oasis. Think Goldie, Chemical Brothers and UNKLE. These two interesting pieces by The Reflex really make you wonder that maybe Noel should hire this man to produce his future albums. I don’t think it would be a bad idea at all based upon the results of this collaboration. 

Richard Norris gets a crack at the final song on this EP “Black & White Sunshine”.  The album version of this track was one of the more straight forward and safe rockers found on Who Built The Moon? I don’t mean that as huge negative but it is the one song from Moon that could have easily been on Noel’s 2011 debut album or 2015’s Chasing Yesterday. Norris strips away a lot of the introductory guitar lines and drums fills, replacing them pulsating electronic thrills. The song is stretched out to an atmospheric 7 minutes that really lifts the song to a more interesting level than its official studio brother. Noel has a real talent for selecting electronic producers who really know how to re-imagine his work. Be it Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve, David Holmes, Andrew Weatherall or Mike Pickering/Graeme Park. The results are always the same. Outstanding work and contributions I’m proud to have in my record collection. Keep it coming Noel.

Wait and Return EP (2,500 copies)

A1. She Taught Me How To Fly (The Reflex Revision)  

A2. Keep On Reaching (The Reflex Revision)  

B1. Black & White Sunshine (Richard Norris Remix)  

Remembering “Navy Blues” — October 12, 2018

Remembering “Navy Blues”

Truth be told in the fall of 1998 I had no idea who Sloan were. Sloane Peterson a definitive yes. Sloan the band a profound no. That was until my buddy Dave enlightened me about this great Canadian rock outfit called Sloan. Dave, knowing I was a huge Beatles and Oasis junkie, told me that the closest thing he’s heard to a modern day Beatles record was Navy Blues which had just dropped earlier in the spring. So I did what any 17 year old kid living in suburbia would do in 1998. I drove to the mall. Luckily for me the now defunct Wall music store had the album for a crisp $18.99. I bought it without hearing a single note played. These were the days before Napster, Limewire, Kazaa, iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, etc. Only ways to discover a band were radio, television, a concert, maybe a music magazine (usually British) or simply word of mouth. 

Sloan come out of the gate swinging on Navy Blues. Songs like “She Says What She Means”, “C’Mon C’Mon (We’re Gonna Get It Started)” and “Iggy & Angus” are pure late 70s arena rock on steroids. Nothing but power chords and monster riffs. Navy Blues has more in common with a Kiss album than say Rubber Soul. That is not to say the album doesn’t contain Beatlesque moments because it definitely channels some serious mop top vibes on “Sinking Ships”, “Seems So Heavy” (an incredible Lennon Revolver era vocal take), “Suppose They Close The Door” and “I Wanna Thank You”. For me the show stealers on this record are the pre-game hockey anthem “Money City Maniacs” and the bouncing “Stand By Me, Yeah”. Two timeless tracks I’ll ride and die with on my iPhone forever. 

What strikes me the hardest when listening to Navy Blues is the production. The album sounds so organic and real. As if all band members are recording this album in the same small room, at the same time, to tape. This is clearly an analog production. Great separation between instruments, hard hitting vocals and the drumming is absolutely on point from start to finish. Whoever mixed this LP hit a home run that hasn’t landed yet. Great ears to say the least. I’d be curious to hear other bands/albums who have had this kind of mixing treatment.

It’s been twenty years and I’m glad my buddy Dave pushed not only Navy Blues on me but Sloan as an underrated band from the north. I think Dave used The Beatles line just to draw me into buying the album in the first place. Clever bastard. Discovering their discography and seeing them evolve over time has been a real pleasure. I was excited to learn that Sloan have hinted at a Navy Blues tour to commemorate this album in 2019. Hopefully a vinyl re-release is also in the works because I’m dying to add this piece to my collection. If you made it this far into my trip down memory lane you either love this album too or should rush out to listen to it. You’ll be rewarded. Trust me. 

Thom Yorke Announces “Suspiria” Soundtrack Album…. — September 4, 2018

Thom Yorke Announces “Suspiria” Soundtrack Album….

What has only been teased and hinted at over the last year has finally been confirmed today. Thom Yorke is indeed back with a brand new soundtrack album for the upcoming horror film Suspiria which is out stateside October 26. The album will feature 25 tracks ranging in scope from proper song structures, instrumental compositions and brief interludes that are heavily influenced by Berlin in the late 70s. Also of note is that this is one of the few Yorke projects in recent memory not to feature longtime producer and collaborator Nigel Godrich at the helm. This time Yorke is co-producing the record with Sam Petts-Davies.

To kick things off, a supportive single was released across various musical outlets titled “Suspirium”. It is a simple yet melodic piano ballad with a haunting Yorke vocal delivery. Hopefully a song like this will be performed on Yorke’s upcoming North American tour in November. One can only pray it will be along with other key tracks from the film. Yorke described the making of this soundtrack as “a form of making spells” and seeing what transpires in his home studio. As of now we have heard only “Suspirium” along with short instrumental pieces heard in the film’s two trailers that remind me of the work Philip Glass did for the Vietnam War classic Hamburger Hill.

 

Tracklist

  1. A Storm That Took Everything
  2. The Hooks
  3. Suspirium
  4. Belongings Thrown In A River
  5. Has Ended
  6. Klemperer Walks
  7. Open Again
  8. Sabbath Incantation
  9. The Inevitable Pull
  10. Olga’s Destruction (Volk tape)
  11. The Conjuring of Anke
  12. A Light Green
  13. Unmade
  14. The Jumps
  1. Volk
  2. The Universe is Indifferent
  3. The Balance of Things
  4. A Soft Hand Across Your Face
  5. Suspirium Finale
  6. A Choir of One
  7. Synthesizer Speaks
  8. The Room of Compartments
  9. An Audition
  10. Voiceless Terror
  11. The Epilogue

 

You can pre-order the album here:

https://store-us.wasteheadquarters.com/products/suspiria-music-for-the-luca-guadagnino-film