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Monday, April 18, 2011

Ain't no cure

Rush released a rather little-known cover album in 2004 titled "Feedback." It features songs from many of the band's influences, including the Who, the Yardbirds, and Buffalo Springfield, among others. One, by Eddie Cochran, and later covered by the Who, is "Summertime Blues."

I first came across this tune on Rush's 30th anniversary dvd "R30." I think, being this the last blog of the year, that "Summertime Blues," is a fitting tune even though it's only April. It begins with that classic opening and turns into that raucous, jovial riff, with awesome instrumentation by Rush. The trio comes together to build a great cover, and probably the best of their covers.

This tune completely embodies what I'm going to be feeling this summer (minus the getting a date part). It's all about having to work all summer, but really wanting to just enjoy yourself. I'm definitely thinking this is how I'll be feeling by mid-June. Given that I actually find a damn job. Then I'll be having the blues for the opposite reason. Either way, blues are forecast, but why not enjoy them along with Canada's best?

Whatever your mood this summer, take this tune with you, roll the windows down, crank it up, and piss off the old couple stopped next to you at a red. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beethoven Blech

Armin Wiebe's Mennonite humour play, "The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz," was anything but humourous. I found the dialogue annoying before long and the characters began to wear on me. I get that Wiebe was trying to be authentic in his writing, but all of the Yoda- speak had me bothered and bored before long, to the point where I was tuning out.

I'm assuming this play was supposed to be a comedy, but I literally did not crack a smile once. During the out-of-place sex scene I raised my eyebrows for a moment, but other than that, I felt like Wiebe was simply trying too hard. It was not a play for non-Mennonites, and not a play for Mennonites, but seemingly a play that over-exaggerated its Mennonite nature to the point where it felt gimmicky.

The story was also fairly cliche, with a few twists, but nothing jarring or worth paying attention to. It was all a big misunderstanding, but I didn't find myself really into the story at all or caring about the outcome and what it meant to each character. It was predictable and trite.

As for what to say about the talk-back after show, or Armin Wiebe's seminar that was delivered, there really isn't much. Wiebe seemed nigh-reluctant to talk to the audience after the show, which was mainly CreComms, and I'm not certain if he was doing that just for CreComms or after every show, but he didn't seem to particularly enjoy it or understand many of the questions. I suppose if better questions were asked, he'd have spoken better.

Wiebe didn't seem to have thought much about the process by which his play was created. He seemed to be taken aback by almost every question that was asked, both at the talk-back and during the seminar. The talk-back was an enormous waste of time, and the seminar was almost as awkward with much reiterated from two nights prior. Wiebe seemed ill-prepared and unready to answer questions despite apparently going through a few interviews.

All in all, the play was too long, and though well-acted, it was annoying, predictable, and lame. Each actor was simply too good at playing a crappy character, so while I could appreciate the acting, I hated the characters.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday night's alright for...

"Rush in Rio!" What do you do on a Saturday night when you've been ditched early and are bored enough to attempt to teach your dog English? I, for one, highly recommend Rush's DVD concert, "Rush in Rio." It features the band playing for 60 thousand screaming fans in, you guessed it, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2003.

I believe it was Rush's first time playing in Brazil, and the concert spans their career, featuring songs from many albums to that time. This concert comes out of Rush's "Vapor Trails," tour, after having called it quits five years earlier when Neil Peart quit after having lost his daughter in a car accident and his wife to cancer, all within a year. The band called it quits, and Peart did not so much as touch a stick for two years. But, he came back, the band recorded one of their best, and darkest albums ever, and the "Vapor Trails," tour kicked off in the States.

This concert was my very, very first Rush experience. It was during a drum lesson that my instructor, upon hearing I had never seen Neil Peart drum, decided to show me "YYZ," and a bit of "O Baterista," Peart's solo, from the concert. That has started a what-will-be lifelong love affair with the band and its music. Imagine being a 12 year old kid who's super into learning how to drum, and being taught about all the great drummers, sitting there and, for the first time, being introduced to my lord and saviour, Neil Peart. What a motivator for a young kid.

So if you ever have the chance, check out "Rush in Rio," because the energy of the crowd and the prowess of the band form a beautiful synergy that is hard to match.

Check out the crowd in this one. There's something about 60 thousand people jumping in unison that is simply amazing and powerful. So many people brought together by music. Wow.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Homage is not enough

For my IPP, I plan on making a concept album, that is, writing 10 songs that tell a story, picking the best 4 over the plot arc, and turning them into an EP. The album is an homage to, you guessed it, Rush, but apparently it's vague and un-envisionable, to make up words.

I'm curious to know what people think. The idea for the story is that the Sun, being the giver of life essentially, has gotten a swelled head. It's mad with power and simply a tyrant, beating on the Moon and making life hell for its slaves, the White Dwarves (a small species of star that is weak in nature, but pleantiful). The Moon finally gets sick of "owing" the Sun (because the Sun gives the light to Moon, and in this case, Linkin Park, it is assuming that the Moon's "gonna owe it one") and decides to rally the White Dwarves and Comets and other heavenly bodies in order to permanently extinguish the Sun so that the heavenly bodies may be free.

My question is: What literary genre would you say this type of story belongs to? I'm simply curious, because apparently I haven't a fucking clue.

This album is an homage to Rush's "2112," a brilliant look at closed-mindedness and how it leads to tyranny. The song "2112," tells the story of a guy who finds a guitar in a forest, in a time when music has been banned and eradicated. It's essentially a "fight the powers that be," type of tale that I really enjoy and can sometimes relate to on different levels. Peart has won awards for writing it, because it is, simply put, brilliant. I know I've reviewed it before, but have a listen to "2112," and bask in its glory, read the lyrics, and even tell me what genre you think it fits under.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The montage tune

For my montage for TV class I have been waffling with ideas for the past week. I did some filming over the weekend and only ended up with 15 minutes of footage, thus making that idea a complete cock-up and not exactly viable anymore. So I was going to go with plan A (what I did this past weekend was actually my second choice), which is to film myself drumming along with "Beneath, Between, and Behind," from "Fly By Night."

I was originally going to simply drum to it and maybe film the opening guitar lick, but film all of it from different angles and sink them up with shots and stuff. Then it occurred to me today in class that it may become rather boring if I simply do a drumming video. It would soon look like I'm reusing footage and for those who don't enjoy drumming, it would simply become tedious to look at. So, Dean gave me this awesome idea to film myself putting together the kit, which gave me the idea to throw in both playing and assembly. I think it's a pretty neat idea now and already have shots planned and way better ideas than I had. Thanks a bunch, Dean. 

Not only is "Beneath, Between, and Behind," my favourite tune off that album, but it's also just a rockin' tune in general. It's old Rush and still has that 70s feel where you can still hear some of their influences coming through. It was the first Rush tune I could ever drum all the way through and has a really interesting drum pattern and overall feel, with a bunch of musical shots that should give me some interesting options for cuts and whatnot. Looking forward to it now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Influencing a generation

This post isn't really about a Rush tune, but it is about Neil Peart: one of the greatest rock drummers and overall drummers of all time. The Foo Fighters are coming out with a new album soon and there has been a single released called "Rope." The tune is absolutely unreal, and pretty heavy for the Foo Fighters. Grohl has brought some Them Crooked Vultures back with him and it's some really interesting stuff.

During the chorus of "Rope," I was sitting there bobbing my head along when I noticed a rather distinct ride pattern being played by Mr. Hawkins. I jumped back in the YouTube timeline and wouldn't you know it, but Hawkins' ride pattern was the exact same as Peart's in "Spirit of Radio." How friggin' awesome is that? I know that Taylor Hawkins is a big Rush fan, often being seen in Rush t-shirts and having played YYZ with Grohl, Geddy Lee, and Alex Lifeson. "Rope," is a great tune, but now that this pattern just stands out in all its glory, the song is that much better. Have a listen:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Don't leave this one alone

Rush has been nominated for a few Grammys, two of them for instrumental tracks. This one is from 1993's "Counterparts." It was after Geddy's keyboard phase, when their new producer wanted to really bring the band back to its power trio roots. And that this album did. It's a great listen and deals with a lot of interesting subject matter like sexuality and love. "Leave That Thing Alone," is the aforementioned instrumental. It is absolutely sublime. The bass groove in it is great, the guitar playing is some of Lifeson's finest and Peart, as always, blows me away. Oh and that bass! Damn! So smooth and sexy. Check it out: