Friday, June 8, 2012

Clockwork Angels - First Listen

I dropped off the kids, drove down the street to the gas station/convenience store, picked up a coke and a pack of mini donuts, got back in the car, plugged my iPhone into the car stereo and started listening to Clockwork Angels.  The mini donuts and the coke were ignored.  The music was not.  When I pulled into a parking spot at work I still had 1:56 left of the last song.  I let it finish before walking inside to my desk and typing this.

I cannot write an objective review of anything Rush does.  Somehow or other my brain has been hard wired to practically worship anything those three guys do together musically.  Honestly, I am sometimes a little weirded out by how they always, and I mean always give me exactly the music that I need at any given moment.  It's almost as if I were hypnotized at some point and a post hypnotic suggestion was placed into my unconscious mind that commands me to absolutely love each new piece of music Rush releases.  It's like some weird voodoo or something.  It sometimes feels like they read my mind and find out what I want their music to sound like, and then give me exactly what I want.  When I stop and think of it, it's a little creepy.

What that means is that any review I might try to write should be ignored by everyone.  More than any other musical artist, my feelings about a Rush release really only apply to me.  I can share my thoughts, and I can try to influence other people's opinion, but it's a waste of time.  No one seems to be able to react the same way I do.

Having said all of that, this new album comes on a wave of hype that is unlike anything Rush has ever experienced.  At least to my knowledge.  Maybe Signals in 1982 might have had something similar as it followed 1981's Moving Pictures album which until now probably stands as their high water mark.  Still, I have never seen anything like this.  Mainstream media, new media, fanboy sites, everything, everywhere, people have been anticipating this album with the expectation that is would blow everything else out of the water.

After one listen, it easily lives up to the hype.  I started listening to Rush in late 1981.  When Signals came out in 1982 I didn't notice.  By the time of the release of Grace Under Pressure in 1984 I owned everything Rush had published.  Grace Under Pressure was the first album I had to wait for.  My expectation for Clockwork Angels was that it would be the best first-listen experience of any Rush record that I had to wait for.  It was.  Easily.  By Far.  The riffage is Black Sabbathian in it's intensity.  The hooks are magnificent.  The performances of the three individual members is so far over and above awesome that I really can't figure out how to describe it.

But what does that mean?  Let me give you an example...  Carnies (track 5) opens with a slow, gloom-and-doomy guitar riff.  After repeating for a measure or two the drums and bass come in and the volume goes up to about a gajillion decibels.  It's the musical equivalent of getting hit by a train.  At the moment the bass and drums came in I first let out a yell of triumph and then immediately realized I had chills from head to toe.  That's what I'm talking about.  I have been listening to these three clowns for 30 years, hanging on every note the whole time, and they still produce an honest to goodness physical response from me.  It's like their music hooks directly into my nervous system and just takes over.  After all this time, when the band members are at an age when they should be thinking more about retirement than setting off musical dynamite in some fat red head from Boston's little pea brain, they still completely kick my ass.

And that is why I need to write stupid posts like this, and it is also why you should completely ignore my posts like this and go out and listen to the record for yourself.  It's available for streaming on Grooveshark.  There are a few torrents out there if you prefer that.  The release date is June 12th if you want to wait for the official release (and if you can't wait for the official release please make sure you buy a copy on the 12th.  Don't be a dick, please).  As soon as you can get it, get it, and reassure me that I am not the only one who is this completely blown away.

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