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RECORD RACK

Fondly recalling idealistic times

October 07, 2008|Randy Lewis; August Brown

Oasis

Dig Out Your Soul

(Big Brother)

* * 1/2

Oasis has long worn its psychedelic influences on its sleeve, and on its latest album, "Dig Out Your Soul," released today, the band often sounds as though it wishes it were 1969 all over again. There's a forward motion to the backward glances, but the spiritual-philosophical bent of many of the songs suggests that brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher preferred the era when rock stars set out to explore the meaning of life rather than maximize the monetization of their brand.

Noel Gallagher wrote six of the album's 11 songs -- with three from Liam and one apiece from bassist Andy Bell and rhythm guitarist Gem Archer -- and his are the most cryptically evocative.

"The Turning" references the Rapture, fallen angels and a messiah in its sense of the impending arrival of something ominous, hopeful or both. "The Shock of the Lightning" might be an expression of physical or spiritual ecstasy, and its lyric "Love is a litany . . . a magical mystery" is yet another of this band's acknowledgments of its eternal debt to the Beatles.

There are likewise musical quotations from "Helter Skelter," "Dear Prudence" and other "White Album"-era Fab Four songs, along with nods to the Who circa "Tommy" and the Stones a la "2000 Light Years From Home."

Bell's "The Nature of Reality" delves headlong into existential questioning, with lyrical economy that's 180 degrees from Archer's wordy "To Be Where There's Life."

It all adds up to something fairly amorphous, but the band's crunching guitars and insinuating melodies provide a bracing contrast in this decade of weepy SLC (Sounds Like Coldplay) British rock.

-- Randy Lewis

--

Not very revolutionary

Rise Against

Appeal to Reason

(Geffen/Interscope)

* *

Rock radio probably should be grateful for a band like Rise Against, which can move units and wax emotively on leftist politics -- all the while sounding like Journey covering late '80s skate punk. One just wishes the band did it with a bit more grace and inventiveness than on "Appeal to Reason," where straight-outta-the Nation song titles like "Collapse (Post-Amerika)" and "Re-education (Through Labor)" disguise some pretty conservative ideas about how modern mainstream punk should sound.

Rise Against earnestly evokes the vague political angst of a Warped Tour moppet who just made his or her first trek away from the main stages and over to the PETA tent. The galloping "Kotov Syndrome" begins with a promising scene of a military guard purporting to be "keeping the peace, whatever that means" before a hugely harmonized chorus reels it back into red-meat KROQ territory.

The band's more believable when it veers from righteous bro-core, like on the effortless, Green Day-bouncy "The Dirt Whispered" and the requisite California-is-full-of-phonies anthem "Entertainment." Such songs are nothing revolutionary. If kids wanted their own politics screamed back at them, they could watch cable news.

-- August Brown

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