Liam Gallagher, “As You Were” (Warner Bros.)
In Oasis, the division of labor between the Gallagher brothers was pretty clear. Frontman Liam Gallagher was the swaggering one, the one who knew how to get attention with a well-placed barb or an energetic sneer. Guitarist Noel Gallagher was the deep one, the one who saw how ’90s Britpop could both carry on the tradition of the Beatles and the Stones while still making a name for themselves.
When Oasis — and the brothers — split up in 2009, Liam seemed to take it harder, forming the band Beady Eye, which lasted for two middling albums. His debut solo album shows that he was always meant to be the sole focus. But he only accomplished that by being more willing to accept help.
Gallagher enlists producer Greg Kurstin — best known for his work with Adele, though he has earned rock cred for the new Foo Fighters album — for the snarling first single “Wall of Glass,” which sounds like an updated cross of Oasis and the Stones. Kurstin plays all the instruments on “Paper Crown,” which recalls early John Lennon solo material. The Lennon influence is even more evident on the stripped-down “Chinatown,” produced and co-written by Miike Snow frontman Andrew Wyatt.
Gallagher is at his best, though, in the dreamy sweetness of “Universal Gleam,” which sounds like it could detour into “Champagne Supernova” at any given moment. There is always something special when he lets some of his guard down, trading some of his notorious edge for glimmers of hope.
GLENN GAMBOA, Newsday
Kamasi Washington, “Harmony of Difference” (Young Turks)
Sax man and bandleader Washington has turned a new generation on to jazz not by compromising or crossing over, but with the boldness of his vision. Sure, it helps that he’s closely associated with fellow innovators in contemporary black music, from rapper Kendrick Lamar to bassist Thundercat. But Washington’s sensibility is essentially an old-fashioned one, in which he and his superb group of musicians stretch out in big-band and small-group settings.
The Los Angeles tenor sax player made a grand entrance with his 2015 triple album, “The Epic.” Another full-length project is due next year, and “Harmony of Difference” is a refreshingly taut six-song EP, created to accompany a visual art exhibit by his sister Amani that was featured at the Whitney Museum in New York this year. It plays as a wordless consideration of diverse cultures, races and attitudes in five short pieces called “Desire,” “Humility,” “Knowledge,” “Perspective” and “Integrity” that weave together elements of hard bop, funk and bossa nova. Washington then wraps it up masterfully on the closing “Truth.”
dan deluca, Philadelphia Inquirer
• Pink, “Beautiful Trauma”
• Beck, “Colors”
• St. Vincent, “Masseduction”
• Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, “Lotta Sea Lice”
• Robert Plant, “Carry Fire”
• Wu-Tang Clan, “The Saga Continues”
• Tegan and Sara, “The Con X: Covers”