Archive for category Rush
Back in early October, my wife and I were lying in bed, her scrolling through Facebook on her iPad, and me reading a (physical) book. We were having a conversation about something that had popped up on her feed, and I had been looking over when something caught my attention: the mention of R40 Live’s release date (11/20 – this coming Friday, if you’re interested). This was the “Promo” video that went with the announcement.
I saw this live, and laughed (squeed?) at seeing the celebrity cameos – especially Peter Dinklage (since MC has been on a GoT kick).
I’ve not been quiet about my affinity for Rush, and like I mentioned here I planned to spin the hell out of it since I had two 9+ hour drives in store for me not long after it came out. I picked it up on release day, and had to fight hard to not rip the plastic off and pop it into a CD player. With a daily commute of less than five miles, though, I know that would be an aggravating way to make it through a first listen, not to mention it would short-change the “first listening experience.”
On the one hand, I’m glad I waited. Clockwork Angels is definitely best experienced (the first time through) in one full listen. For those not familiar, it’s a style of concept album that’s different for Rush. As opposed to The Who’s Tommy, Green Day’s American Idiot, or even Rush’s own 2112 (main track) where each piece sonically bleeds into the next, with Angels each track, while connected by a thematic narrative story, stands alone as independent songs. The closest comparison I can make is the libretto for a stage musical.
Here we are, three months removed from its release so lets talk about the tracks.
# 1 – Caravan: Originally released as a single in advance of the Time Machine Tour a few years ago, the track was reworked a little – not rerecorded, just having the balance/mixing tweaked. The original felt a bit heavier, but the album version allows more articulation for Geddy’s bass work to be heard, and the lyrics come through better instead of bleeding into the music at points.
# 2 – BU2B: The other early track from the TMT, they added a softer opening few bars before breaking into the hard stuff. Personally, while enjoyed the sonic slap with the original release, adding the new intro works better within the context of the album.
# 3 – Clockwork Angels: The first completely new track when I first listened… I was struck by the suggested imagery, I felt for a moment like I was experiencing the sequence in Robots when we first get to Robot City, some of Neil’s cymbal work in the softer sections gave that steampunky train feel.
# 4 – The Anarchist: Driving rock beat that can be expected. Alex does some interesting riffs and accents that, if you want to push references, almost sound like snippets of of past songs, then take a slightly different twist.
# 5 – Carnies: Heavier opening, then scales back for sections of the opening lyric before continuing with the beat. Mid song, there’s a moment that Alex’s guitar work reminds me of hints of the riffsfrom Red Barchetta. The ending is one that I can see working eaily in a concert.
# 6 – Halo Effect: Still a hard undercurrent, but subtler in the orchestration around the lyrics. This is one that has becoma a favorite track. The stylistic approach reminds me a little of Nobody’s Hero or The Way the Wind Blows.
# 7 – Seven Cities of Gold: Another stand out for me from the album. It grabbed me the same way that Vapor Trails (the track) did when I first heard it, playful instumentation for the introduction then into the core of the song with a sequence later of Alex being Alex.
# 8 – The Wreckers: Lighter key then several of the other tracks with a brighter sound, but one of the heavier sets of lyrics. Another one that is a favorite from the album. It evokes a same emotional response as Nobody’s Hero.
# 9 – Headlong Flight: I will admit, I was nervous when I first heard the track. As much as it rocks, I wasn’t won over by the track itself. After hearing it in the context of the entire album, it made better sense. Extra brownie points: there’s an instrumental break in there that echoed the vibe from By-tor and hte Snow Dog.
# 10 – BU2B2: A short, filler track that harkens back to the previous (#2)with a much softer instumentation (much like the opening sequence from before). Nothing overly remarkable by itself, but thematically works to smooth the transition from the high energy of Headlong Flight.
# 11 – Wish Them Well: More of the same rock that one would expect.
# 12 – The Garden: Most of the song has a softer feeling like Resist, and it’s not until late that there’s any significant guitar flourish (which, by key, harkens back to moments from Spirit of Radio), but it’s a mellow song when compared to others on the album.
Considering the story arc that is supposed to be in place, the sequencing makes sense. After reading the snippets from the liner notes, by the time the last track arrived I hadthe impression of an old man looking back over his life, maybe telling stories to the grandkids. It worked, for me. I’m also interested to see how the story plays out in the novelization.
So, that’s the deal. I’ve enjoyed it.
Unitil the new Rush album, Clockwork Angels, drops… 12 June… just in time for me to spin the hell out of it on a 9-ish hour drive to my MFA residency a few days later.
Not loking forward to either of them, am I?
While I have moved to getting most of my music digitally now, Rush is one of the few that I still like getting the tangible disc version. Just sayin’, I know where I’ll be heading to after work on the 12th.
To round things out, here’s a few Rush videos to remind everyone where my musical tastes stem towards.
While waiting to hear back from a couple of people to confirm going to one of the shows on the looming 2010 tour, there is the documentary. I’m not sure if it’s actually going to make it to any of the local theaters here, but it will be on the oft-frustrating “gift idea” list (since I’ve been told I can be difficult to shop for.) With that, said, the video above is the trailer for said documentary.
Edit to add: a few moments later, there’s this at the Wall Street Journal site:
In keeping with the Colbert Report clip…
There was a posting of some out-take material prior to the show. They sat the guys down with a “Rock Band” set-up, and had them try to play Tom Sawyer in the video game. If they mentioned the difficulty setting, I didn’t catch it. I thought it rather funny to watch, more for the outcome (**spoiler, they “fail” at their own song), than watching them sit around playing the game.
The editing is actually done very well, and I think I caught Alex with a little of the, “WTF? How does this work?” expression as he was watching the on-screen frets roll by… much like I have the first time I try playing through songs in Guitar Hero…
We arrived at the hotel by 4 o’clock, still a little full from lunch at MC’s parents, so we just hung out at the hotel, setting up the fold-out couch, and getting ready for the concert. The room was nice enough – two queen beds and a pull-out sofa, but I was thinking it might actually be two seperate bedroom spaces (like I have had at some other hotels)… oh well…
My sister had not told her boys what the grand plan was for the weekend, but they had picked up that we were going to a concert. The youngest asked, “Mom, are we going to a concert?”
“Yes,” she replied. “And who would you want to go to a concert to see?”
He contemplated this question, tapping his chin in deep thought. “Rush?!” he said, his voice almost asking a question, as well as giving an answer. He’s seven, and likes to rock. His older brother (10) got in on it, “We’re going to see Rush?” And there was much rejoicing by them.
We stopped off at a Bob Evans, right next to the hotel, for dinner on the way to the show, and finalized the seating arrangements. I would be in the closer group of seats, with the two oldest boys.
We tried to use text messages between the sections, during the course of the show, but there just wasn’t the same immediacy as sitting with MC to point out some of the videos, or items on the stage. Also, since they released a live album from last year’s tour, and there are plans for a live DVD to be released this fall, I wasn’t so worried about trying to track down the setlist (like last year… which, by the way, I realized I was wrong with what I thought some of the songs were…).
The main recognition that MC’s nephew had with Rush was “YYZ” from Guitar Hero 2 (which was the last song they played), but he enjoyed himself. Of course, my nephews had fun (even though the youngest fell asleep during the encore, I was told his head was rocking along during the drum solo. MC was actually quite receptive, overall, for her first substantial exposure to them. “They’re obviously very talented,” she said, “but I couldn’t really understand them. And with everyone standing, I couldn’t really see the screens.”
However, one point of humor that has to be pointed out… you know how most of the time the line at the men’s room is usually very non-existent, or moves quickly, while the ladies room will extend 20-30 people from the entrance? Exact opposite… the ladies room was a breeze through while the guys were stuck waiting to go. “And I’ve never seen so many mullets it one place,” MC mentioned (referring to many of the fans).
Another humor point that my sister and I noticed – a guy, driving a black Ferrari… and having to park in a gravel parking lot. What the hell was he thinking?
We returned to the hotel, blessedly by way of a “back route” (the same way we go to the venue, actually – but it did not involve getting on I-85, which was how virtually all of the rest of the traffic was heading), everyone showered, and collapsed onthe beds for a few hours of sleep.
The next morning, we met up with my friend Ben who lives out there, and we all went to breakfast (at Cracker Barrel, again, as it was too early for the lunch-themed restaurants, and we were all hungry). After breakfast, we all went to Concord Mills mall for a little over an hour, to do a little shopping “since we were there”. After dropping Ben off back at the CB, we reversed the route, going back to Winston-Salem before coming back east, and calling it a trip.