Deep Music Criticism #16 – Rush’s Clockwork Angels

I hate to beat a dead horse – but allow me to this time. In today’s edition of my Deep Music Criticism series I revisit the title track to Rush’s latest album, Clockwork Angels.

I’ve ranked it #6 on their all-time top 20 best Rush songs. When it comes to such an old and long-running band of musicians, with as prolific a recorded output as Rush – ranking their best work gets a bit silly – and individualistic. Its no surprise that most Rush fans responded to my list with puzzlement and a bit of good natured mockery. View all photos

Deep Music Criticism #15 – Katy Perry/Tim Hewitt – Teenage Dream

I’m taking a new tack here – reviewing a cover song. Only because it shows what I’ve often said about pop acts these days: the songs (many of them, anyway) are well-written but HORRIBLY produced. Harmonically, melodically, lyrically – good pop songwriters these days are talented and working in the great tradition of Tin Pan Alley etc. 3-4 minutes of clever and carefully polished a songwriting is routinely coming at me over the radio. But the problem is the sonic pallete the producers choose these days, which is horrible. View all photos

Deep Music Criticism #14 – Frank Zappa’s My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama

Sorry folks – I’m just on a Zappa jag lately. I’m eating my own dogfood – fans are constantly comparing me to Zappa so I feel like I need to study his music in earnest to get the connection myself. I’m still convinced that my aesthetic and point of view is different than Frank’s, and I never was especially inspired by his musical ideas. Sure I have common threads in my music – jazz and fusion etc – but I admired and listened to the same artists Frank listened to. I didn’t absorb the influence second hand through him. View all photos

Deep Music Criticism #13 – Dream Theater’s Scenes from a Memory

In my quest to comprehend and appreciate the prog-metal warhorse of a band Dream Theater, I’ve been listening to their classic concept album Scenes from a Memory – also known by its more verbose title: Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory.

So far…meh. But read on.

There was a time in my life when I was a bit enthralled with concept albums. Rush’s 2112 was and still is endearing and brings back memories to when I first awakened to adventurous rock music. Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime was a smaller obsession a bit later. In a sense, every well-programmed and sequenced album of music should carry a concept and theme from start to finish, whether that be mood, musical element (like tempo, tonality), or whatever. But for an album to truly qualify as “concept”, there has to be a programmatic story – usually sung as lyrics, ala opera. View all photos

Deep Music Criticism #10 – Rush – Presto

Presto – Rush’s 13th studio album – was the first album they released after I became a fan when I was 14, in 1988. I remember it was released right before Christmas 1989. I bought it the morning that my Dad and I were to travel up to Vermont with a friend of his and his son to their ski condo on Okemo mountain. I persuaded the adults to pop the cassette in the player, to eat up the first hour of that 3 hour car ride. I remember how, by the time the player turned over Side B and was about to start the entire album over again, Rich (Dad’s friend) said in a mildly annoyed tone “Can we give it a rest now?” Rush is not for everyone… View all photos