Last week saw two great releases from two amazing British bands. I must admit that these two albums have been on steady rotation on my PC and my smartphone since then. I’ve listened to both albums at least two or three times and am still blown away. But hey, I’ve always loved British music, even as a teen. So I should not be that surprised.
Florence and the Machine: “Ceremonials”
Let’s start with Florence and the Machines’ “Ceremonials.” I have to admit to not being initially impressed with “Shake It Out,” when I first heard it, but when I saw the album pop up as a new release on Spotify, I thought I’d still go ahead and check it out. I find that there is something so mesmerizing about Florence Welch: in the way she looks, moves and sings. Once I heard “What the Water Gave Me,” I realized I was going to be hooked. I also realized that “Shake It Out” is a song that is meant to be listened to with headphones on so that you can catch each nuance. Just listening to it on the radio means that you miss a lot of what actually makes it a good song. Florence and the Machines is an in-your-face orchestral movement of a band, with Florence Welch’s vocals reminding me a lot of Kate Bush.
“Ceremonials” starts off with the stunning “If Only For A Night.” It’s a piece that swells like a tidal wave and drowns you in its sound. The following tracks are no different, with my favorite easily being the previously mentioned “What the Water Gave Me.” The entire album is haunting and beautiful, and you can’t not love the soulful quality of Florence Welch’s voice.
Check out the video to “What the Water Gave Me:”
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
I’m also listening to Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds‘ debut album. I’ll admit that I was never much of an Oasis fan. Their songs just did not really reach out to me and grab me. Needless to say, I was quite surprised that I fell in love with this album as quickly as I did. From the first track, “Everybody’s On the Run” through the entire album, I could not stop listening. Most critics say that Noel’s music is more or less the same as that of Oasis, but I disagree. There is something in Noel’s music that resonates and strikes a chord with me.
This album is also a sort of orchestral movement that is melodic and haunting. However, where Florence and the Machine is the tidal wave that assails you, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is the soft wind that caresses your cheek. Noel’s voice is like velvet and it’s part of why I love this album so much. The lyrics are calm, cool and collected, at times tapping into influences like Pink Floyd and Coldplay. You want to listen to this with your eyes closed while relaxing somewhere warm and comfy. My favorite song on the album is the upbeat “AKA… What a Life.” But “Let the Lord Shine a Light On Me” comes in at a close second – it’s probably the strongest vocal performance Noel gives on the album. I also really like “If I Had a Gun:” It’s simple, yet still sneaks into your head and stays there.
Check out the video to “If I Had A Gun:”