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Dig Out Your Soul invites new influences

Alexandra Kilpatrick | Sunday, November 9, 2008

Oasis’ newest album, “Dig Out Your Soul,” released in early October, helps to transform the band into more of a democracy rather than a monarchy ruled by the Gallagher Brothers, Noel and Liam. Each member of the Britpop band contributed to the songwriting: Noel, previously always the principal songwriter, wrote six songs, while brother Liam wrote a few and lesser-known members Gem Archer and Andy Bell each contributed a song.

The Manchester-based band has always been blatantly influenced by the Beatles, to the extent that Oasis has actually stolen lyrics from the Liverpool-based 1960s pop rock band. In “Dig Out Your Soul,” however, Oasis broadens its horizons and takes influences from several classic rock bands, from Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to the Doors and the Who.

The CD opens with Noel’s “Bag It Up,” a song with a bluesy sound yet lyrics that prompt the much-needed question, “‘Hee-bee-jee-bees?’ Really?” The album quickly moves on to two other Noel Gallagher pieces, “The Turning” and “Waiting for the Rapture.” These songs both have strong Doors influences, made apparent with the eerie keyboard in “The Turning” from the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” and the dirty guitar in “Waiting for the Rapture,” taken from the Doors’ “Five to One.”

Noel’s “The Shock of the Lightning,” the first single off the album, has a sonic feel and excellent lyrics (“Love is a time machine, up on the silver screen”), but the song is much too over-hyped.

The real treat is Liam’s “I’m Outta Time,” an, of course, Lennon-like ballad led by piano and reflective lyrics (“Can give myself some piece of mind…you know it’s getting hard to fly”) and slightly psychedelic sound effects akin to the best of Pink Floyd toward the end.

“(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady” has the clap and stomp of the Beatles’ “Give Peace a Chance,” and Noel’s “Falling Down” has the same noisy sonic sound as “The Shock of the Lightning.” Guitarist Gem Archer surprises with an excellent mix of psychedelic rock and Indian raga hypnotism in “To Be Where There’s Life,” while Andy Bell writes a classic rock-like piece, “The Nature of Reality,” which takes influences from Jimi Hendrix in the guitar chords.

Liam’s final two contributions, “Aint Got Nothing” and “Soldier On,” are both well-written and take influences from classic rock. “Soldier On” has the same psychedelic rock sound of Gem’s “To Be Where There’s Life” without the hypnotic effect, while “Aint Got Nothin'” takes its noisy sound from fellow British band The Who.

While previous albums had delicately crafted pieces such as “Champagne Supernova” that took the loud-soft dynamic range into account, Oasis deliberately sacrifices dynamics in “Dig Out Your Soul” with a loud, overwhelming and numbing effect for the listener.

This decision is seemingly backwards, as most bands mature from using blatant noise to overwhelm the listeners to producing the same effect by using a wider dynamic range but a softer sound. However, Oasis pulls off the loud, overwhelming method with maturity and creativity.

Oasis has certainly become more open-minded over the past decade and a half, sharing the song-writing duties this time around and learning that the Beatles, while excellent and definitely influential, are not the only band from whom they can take their influences.

According to NME Magazine, Ryan Adams claimed that the new CD has the same effect as Radiohead’s “Kid A,” saying “the first time I heard ‘Kid A’ I went ‘OK, I have no … idea what kind of music this is but it’s moving me. It sounds like a revelation.’ That’s what the new Oasis stuff sounds like, it sounds like they have entered into some strange uncanny spiritual crazy door and have just lost themselves completely to it and it is marvelous.”

Oasis’ new outlook allows them to drop their Britpop sound and create a completely different sound on “Dig Out Your Soul.”