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Monday, November 29, 2010

Send Your Impulse 'Round the World

"Net boy, net girl, send your signals 'round the world. Let your fingers walk and talk and set you free."

Now, "Test for Echo," was released in 1996, and these lyrics about the advent of the internet and its rising popularity. Neil Peart is a big time conceptual artist and his fascination with the world and trends never ceases to amaze me. Thus, "Virtuality's" lyrics may be kind of lame for now, but in 1996 they were (and still are to me, so mleh) new age and modern and kind of foreboding. Mr. Peart saw the power of the internet and its potential... Obviously as many people did, but he saw the power and failure behind it. "Put your message in a modem, and toss it in the cyber sea." The cyber sea... ok so one can send their message anywhere, but cannot forgot that once its out there, it's lost at sea. Pretty damn fascinating. Not to mention that this is a great tune, with a really catchy chorus. "Test for Echo," itself is an unreal album with some really interesting stuff. Check it all out. Pye Dubois collaborated with the band and produced some great tunes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The future seems bleak. Have no fear, Rush will save us all!

2112. Great googly moogly, 2112. From the album of the same name, this song epitomizes Rush. It's a shame this has to be a short post, because I could go on for days, but really the music speaks for itself. I can't put it into words, just pure appreciation. If you have never heard 2112, do so immediately. Drop what you're doing and youtube it or whatever you have to do.

2112 is a tune that blends musical precision, amazing playing (AMAZING), fantasy, and a rockin' adventure. Long story short, it's about a future where music is outlawed and one day a guy finds a guitar and tunes it up and figures out how to play it and leads a revolt against the powers that be. I'm talking move material here.

It's broken into sections because it's 20:33. Sit down, turn it up, and absorb it. You will not be disappointed. The best part is near the middle, it's called "Presentation." So rockin' I can't even put it into words. Pure Geddy Lee right there and if you're not into his voice, live with it, because the man friggin' belts it out. Neil Peart is god, allah, buddha, and all that rolled into one because he hath created a tune and concept like no other. Sit back, turn up, and absorb. You have no idea what you're in for.

Creative Writing Assignment: Short Story Review

"Nutty," by Paul Rudnick is a short story from the New Yorker, which will apparently be published in the November 29 edition. It's an absolutely hilarious "tell all" about how Mr. Peanut of Planters peanuts is gay and is "coming out of his shell." In the story Mr. Peanut tells of his encouragement from stories like those of Portia de Rossi and Ricky Martin to come out and be who he is as a gay peanut. This story comes after Planters rebranded in a way and gave Mr. Peanut a grey blazer, the voice of Robert Downey Jr. and a little sidekick named Benson. I Rudnick's short story, Benson and Mr. Peanut are in love and Mr. Peanut is sick of hiding it.

This story is absolutely brilliantly written, at least for my taste it is. It's filled with clever double entendre's and puns that make it very readable and I honestly haven't laughed out loud at a story in a long time. Mr. Peanut goes on a sex binge in the story, screwing everyone from Mr. Clean to Tony the Tiger and at one point shares naughty bits with the Rice Krispies guys saying "they don't get soggy in milk." His description of his torrid affair with Mr. Clean, whose first name is apparently Eugene, is hilarious and oh so shrewd.

This is the first story that I've read out of the New Yorker that I've actually enjoyed. It may be because I get all of the references, but it's also because the subject matter is risque, but in a fantastical way. Apparently Mrs. Butterworth is a lesbian. Who knew? I also like how it is autobiographical in nature, but such for a fictitious, anthropomorphic peanut. I also like the blend of clever humour and of toilet humour (the nut jokes are awesome). The title of Mr. Peanut's autobiography just says it all- "Right in the Nuts."

A great laugh and a quick read, check it out:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Because We're Here

Rush's first foray into rap. Believe it or not. But actually believe it, because it happened. What an odd thing for Neil Peart to write. I mean, rap? Really? Yet... I love "Roll the Bones," from the 1991 album of the same name. It's a philosophical tune about simply giving things a shot. "Roll the Bones," being a euphemism for rolling the dice. While very catchy musically, the lyrics are what bring this tune home, for me anyway.

"Roll the Bones," is all about just giving things a go and seeing where it all falls because you never know until you try. It's one of those somewhat cliche lessons, but Peart executes it in such a way to give it nuance. I think his writing is brilliant and people may have slagged him for the rap bit, but they were just coming out of the 80s, rap was rising in popularity, and I guess he thought "what the hell, let's give it a go." It's kind of lame, but I love it none the less, and when you hear it, you won't be able to help but laugh and love it too. During live performances, the rap is a pre-recorded voice track and a skeleton with a mohawk appears on the big screen and goes 8-Mile on the audience's behind. (I'm so glad Rush can kind of laugh at the fact that they actually included a rap section in one of their tunes).

The song is not all rap, in fact the rap section isn't very long at all. The chorus is fantastic; the lyrics are existentialism in it's simplest form: "Why are we here? Because we're here. Roll the bones."

I love how blunt that statement is; we're here because we're here now roll the dice and give it your best shot. "We go out in the world and take our chances. Fate is just the weight of circumstances. That's the way that lady luck dances. Roll the bones." This is one of Peart's less linguistic tunes, dumbing things down a bit I suppose for the early '90s generation, but he gets his point across well and it's still a profound tune to go down in history with all of Rush's profundity.

The song starts off with the groovy funk-based hook that continues throughout, with an awesome synth note on 2 that just punches every little pre-verse. The synth throughout the song (which Lee plays with his foot pedals during live performances) is toned down quite a bit from "Presto," and even more so than "Hold Your Fire." In this tune's live version, the synth just accents and accompanies, rather than being a main component of the mix. Check out a live version if you're not into synth. It's subtly is what gives the track it's funk-appeal, and Lifeson's guitar work is minimalistic for him, but still very tone-setting in that it accents and punches where it needs to without being overt.

The bass-riff in "Roll the Bones," is sick. A somewhat syncopated funk rhythm, Lee carries it out beautifully during live performances while singing. That man amazes me with what he can play while he sings over it. This is by no means the most complicated bass riff he plays, but all the notes on the ands while singing on the beat would give me a headache any day.

Check out the music video and watch for the skeleton, you will not be disappointed:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hey, Baby, it's a Quarter to Eight

Another quick post this week about the wonders of old Rush. While the band's first album featured John Rutsey on drums and not my personal Jesus, Mr. Neil Peart, the album has some unreal tracks with some fantastic playing, nonetheless. Lee showcases his bass chops, Lifeson plays some very classic sounding riffs, and Rutsey is more than competent behind the kit.

This debut was simply a mix of their influences, which include The Who, Zeppelin, and other classic groups. It really comes out in Lifeson's fuzzbox distortion and perhaps Lee's straightest playing ever. The band pulled off a great success when this record was played in Ohio where a bunch of blue collar workers related to an eponymous track known as "Working Man."

A less appreciated, but still widely played track, the last track on the album is known as "In the Mood," perhaps an ode to Glen Miller, but who knows. Rush isn't necessarily known for their lovey dovey, let's get laid lyrics, but "In the Mood," is definitely a tune of that calibre. It's a great track with an awesome lead riff that gets stuck in your head.

This album isn't for the occasional Rush fans, however, as I can see Lee's ultra-high vocals getting to some people. However, for the longest time, this was my favourite album (odd, seeing as how Peart was my hero immediately after I took interest in the band) because it sounded the closest to classic rock out of most of their material. So, if you like the classics, i.e. a little bit of Zepp, some Who, some Yardbirds, some Cream, then check this tune out. "In the Mood," may just get you in the mood for more Rush. Yup, that's as cheesy as it gets right now.

Laugh along with the rest of the world at Rush in the '70s. Amazing musicians, but not exactly boy band material. and I'll leave it at that just in case they take offense and never ever want to meet me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Show Me Don't Tell Me

From 1989's "Presto," "Show Don't Tell," is a very fine piece of music. Rush is not necessarily known for their excellent late '80s to early '90s output, but this is a tune that just does it for me. Post- Geddy's keyboard phase, or at least getting there, Presto saw the band move closer to their power trio roots before really returning to those roots on '93's "Counterparts." "Presto," had the band moving back to that guitar-oriented sound and had them playing around with funk rhythms. "Show Don't Tell," is almost danceable at times and I'm sure you'll have the main riff stuck in your head for quite some time. Check it out: