The Crooks - Now Then

For many Oasis fans, including Noel Gallagher, they wish upon a parallel universe. One where 1997's 'Be Here Now' had undergone extreme quality control.

Well, that wish might just have been granted in the form Chesterfield's The Crooks. Cut them and they will bleed DMA's via the extravagance of Oasis circa 1996 to 1998 but, crucially, without the self-indulgence on their latest EP ‘Now Then’.

'Grey Man' has the lone wanderer feel of Noel's solo masterpiece 'Riverman'. Here though, he walks upright with youthful enthusiasm. The psychedelic guitars of Stee and Mods are the perfect platform for frontman Jacko to execute his Liam Gallagher via Thomas O’Dell (DMA’s) vocals. As Jacko decrees “bring me back to the wonderland”, music lovers over the age of 30 will have their youthful ambition restored whilst this generation runs amok to secure it for them.

The Oasis via DMA’s style continues throughout to wonderful effect. ‘All Isn’t As It Seems’ is a lyrical update of ‘Live Forever’ or The Enemy’s ‘Away From Here’. As the chorus of “I want to live my life away / I’m sick of doing it your way” images of huge festival crowds singing arm in arm come rushing to the fore. Meanwhile, on ‘Champagne & Caviar’, the parallel universe strikes. Oasis’ ‘It’s Getting Better Man’ is cut down to 3mins of scintillating solos and the hunger of ‘Definitely Maybe’.

When they do strike for the stadium rock sound on ‘Rocket’, it comes with the anguish that rock ‘n’ roll needs to truly matter. With a punk spirit in its veins, ‘Rocket’ is the sound of people trying to make ends meet and enjoy themselves. All the while, an Etonian racist and Pro-Privatisation of NHS dickheads battle it out to rule over us. The sheer guts and desperation of ‘Rocket’ can be all things to all people. It’s a clarion call to the jaded and a helping hand to those on the canvas. It’s uniting spirit is a reminder that rock n roll will never die.  

Despite the comparisons to DMA's and Oasis, this is not just a re-hash. The Crooks are very much one step backwards, 2 steps forward sonically. It’s the spirit they evoke on ‘Now Then’ that shines brightest. It’s as though they put Shane Meadows in charge of producing ‘Be Here Now’ to give it the brutal reality check it needed. The results, heady and pure rock n roll.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

The Raintree County – Feel Alive

In 1995, there was no need for Oasis to follow 1994’s ‘Definitely Maybe’ with more of the same. The world was ready for Noel Gallagher and Owen Morris to stretch their their sound to the edge of oblivion on ‘What’s The Story (Morning Glory)’. However, The Raintree County’s new single ‘Feel Alive’, has created an alternate reality where that Manchester via Liverpool sound was followed up on.

Full of escapism and hopeful swagger, the Leeds five piece have delivered a slice of the North West. With the charm of ‘Digsy’s Donner’ and the expansiveness of ‘Slide Away’ and ‘Columbia’, they have tapped into that Burnage groove to take the mind elsewhere.

This isn’t just a rehash of the past though. Nor is it just a tribute to Oasis. There are nuggets psyche reminiscent of Mick Head’s Shack and the drunkard triumphalism of Tribes fuelling this anthem for the present day.

Two singles in, The Raintree County are nailing down their own sound via the greats. Definitely ones to watch!

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

Liam Gallagher - As You Were

“Gonna take you off my list of to do’s / Gonna sing my soul / Shake of these blues”

The opening lines of ‘Bold’, says all you need to know about Liam Gallagher’s comeback. It’s confessional, heartfelt and, to quote the god like Alan Partridge, Liam has “bounced back”.

Anyone who lived through the 90s will have been worried by Liam’s solo album. He embodied so much that was great in the epoch, another lacklustre effort would render him redundant cultural capital.

As the album kicks off with ‘Wall of Glass, the alarm bells ring. It’s that faux chaos comeback single that plagued Oasis for so long (‘Hindu Times’, ‘Lyla’ and ‘Shock of the Lightning’). However, from ‘Bold’ onwards, a remarkable, almost psychoanalytic approach to his character is explored.

Most striking in this respect is ‘For What It’s Worth’. An apologetic ode to brother Noel set to Oasis via ‘Let It Be’ strings was always grabbing headlines. It’s the honesty that shines brightest though. Calling his brother out on his calculated media persona to accept his apology and get the Oasis juggernaut back on the road is a story that writes itself.

The lyrical directness befits Liam’s vocals far better than the hazy psyche of latter day Oasis and Beady Eye. Whether it’s Lennon via Lydon snarl on the bluesy rock n roll ‘Greedy Soul’ or the angelic ‘Paper Crown’, Gallagher’s confessional style has the effect of healing wounds and defying the odds far more than “Gold and silver and sunshine is rising up / Pour yourself another cup of Lady Grey”.

This is yet again exemplified on ‘You Better Run’. An attack on bands and artists who are just happy to be at the party. Liam reminds everyone that being an outsider is something that you live and breathe. It’s not for Chris Martin to write fair trade on his hands. It’s not for James Bay to put on a hat. It’s not for Ed Sheeran to pick up a guitar. It's not for Radio X to have an all male line up. It’s not for Pitchfork to wank themselves silly over an obscure German industrial influence on a Radiohead album and then slate Liam for being inspired by T-Rex.  

When the ‘Supersonic’ documentary came out, it felt the perfect end point for all things Oasis. It encapsulated everything that youth culture and youth culture could achieve. Like a Smiths reunion, it would detract from the power of being young and dampen their greatness. But, when Liam sings “Let's leave the past behind with all our sorrows / I'll build a bridge between us and I'll swallow my pride”, the emotional side of any Oasis fan will find it tough to argue.