Monday, June 21, 2010

Music Review - New Rush Single

Two classic bands (read, 'been around since the 80s or earlier') to get their shit together for the new era of music discovery, delivery and consumption (read 'Internet and mobile devices') are Rush and Iron Maiden. Both bands have released previews from their upcoming full length albums ahead of summer tours.

In Rush's case, the band decided to put out a single, tour and THEN record the bulk of the new album, so their chops would be particularly rocking. In Maiden's case, the album will be out after the tour has started, but it's pretty much cooked.

On Rockline recently, Steve Harris confirmed the band would just do the one pre-released song live and wait to unleash any more new material until the full album is out. Same with Rush - we can expect to hear both of their new songs live on this year's tour.

The new Maiden song, called El Dorado is offered as
a free download, and the new Rush single costs $2.49 and includes a 5-page digital booklet.

OK, all good. But how are the songs? Here is my take on the Rush tunes. I will review Maiden's tomorrow in advance of me seeing the band live tomorrow night.

Rush - Caravan/BU2B:
It took me a long time to fully appreciate these songs, as usual for me with modern Rush.

There is a LOT going on here. The general vibe? Heavy. Caravan starts out like the soundtrack to a Godzilla movie, if Godzilla is the size of the Empire State Building, which I imagine is slightly bigger than his actual size. Um, well, you see where I am going: The song is large and lumbering.

The opening riff gets turned on its head once the drums come in, and is as solid as any Rush riffage. Geddy comes out swinging with fairly typical Neil lyrics:

In a world lit only by fire
Long train of flares under piercing stars
I stand watching the steamliners roll by

The caravan thunders onward
To the distant dream of the city
The caravan carries me onward
On my way at last
On my way at last

Which yields to the very catchy chorus refrain of "I can’t stop thinking big, I can’t stop thinking big, In a world where I feel so small, I can’t stop thinking big."

After the second chorus there is a multi-part instrumental freak out that is for the most part, well fucking awesome. It took me a while to really grasp what is going on in this section because it changes pretty quickly. I still don't get it all but the bass and drums interplay going on under the guitar and solo are incredibly strong and complex, and then out of that they just hit that big chorus one more time, freak out some more and wrap it up.

The second song, BU2B is even heavier if that is possible. Lyrically very consistent with Neil's science over religion bent:

I was brought up to believe
The universe has a plan
We are only human
It’s not ours to understand

The universe has a plan
All is for the best
Some will be rewarded
And the devil take the rest

This song follows the 'new Rush' tradition of throwing in some super duper heaviness on each album, along the lines of Spindrift and Earthshine from their last two albums. Pretty pummeling vibe, sometimes atonal guitar. But there are some moments of relief, such as the bridge which brings back some of that 80s keyboard padding. Doesn't last long though and we're back to the main plodding riff. Fucking huge. Not sure I have heard them this huge.

These songs are going to blow people's minds live. And if the whole album sounds anything like this, it's going to be kick ass.

In more Rush news, the documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage will air on VH1, VH1 Classic and Palladia this Saturday, and will be preceded in some markets by the Classic Rock album series episodes on 2112 and Moving Pictures. That's a whole lotta Rush and I like it! Full reviews on that shiteness next week.

1 comment:

David said...

Excellent and thoughtful review. I intended to write a review... but was so pushed for time all I managed was: "It is a two track single and I am hugely impressed with both songs..."! (See New Rush Tracks.) I have just updated my effort to link to your much more useful review.

You got my hopes up about the VH1 and Beyond The Lighted Stage... but it looks like it is not being shown in the UK, or at least not this Saturday. Scunner! I did manage a longer review of the film (Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage) and I am very much looking forward to the DVD release.