Rush – Caravan / BU2B

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By Adrien Begrand

It goes without saying that the summer of 2010 is going to be a big one for Rush. Not only are the Canadian greats hitting the road once again, playing corporate-sponsored sheds across North America, but they’ll be making the punters even happier by performing their 1981 masterpiece Moving Pictures in its entirety. In addition, the long-awaited Sam Dunn/Scott McFayden documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, which is already riding a wave of very positive reviews, is set to come out on DVD and Blu-Ray on June 28th. However, with so much attention being paid to looking back at Rush’s long career thanks to the new tour and film, the band is still doggedly keeping their gaze forward. Their 19th studio album, the Nick Raskulinecz-produced Clockwork Angels, is still a work in progress and won’t see the light of day until spring of 2011, but the band is fully aware that if there was a time to capitalize on the added attention the tour and film will bring, it’s now. So to their credit, they’ve finalized two of their half-dozen or so completed songs and given their fans yet another treat in the form of a brand-new single.

Stylistically neither “Caravan” nor “BU2B” are much of a departure from what Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart have been churning out as of late, but it’s all about the subtle adjustments they make, continuing right where their wonderful return to form Snakes and Arrows left off. The late-60s psychedelic rock influence they had fun with on the Feedback EP still lingers with the trio, as “Caravan” starts out with a theatrical, descending riff with a backdrop of mellotron. In fact, during the first minute it’s easy hear similarities between this track and the most recent work by Cathedral: both bands integrate classic psych/prog rock into their music with the joy of obsessive fans, and in Rush’s case, it’s a seamless fit with “Caravan”‘s more introspective choruses and the groovy mid-song breakdown. Peart’s lyrics romanticize the road as he often tends to do, and he comes up with some choice lines: “Long train of flares under piercing stars / I stand watching the steamliners roll by…In a world where I feel so small / I can’t stop thinking big.”

Meanwhile, “BU2B” (an anagram of “Brought Up to Believe”) starts off sounding darker than anything Rush has done as of late, wasting no time in kicking into a ferocious, thundering Lifeson riff that feels surprisingly modern, the grandiosity not unlike Mastodon, the dissonance eerily similar to Meshuggah. At merely four and a half minutes the song is quite epic in scope, as the doom and gloom of the first minute gives way to a more upbeat chorus reminiscent of their mid-’80s output which peaks midway through, as Lee’s synths and Lifeson’s cleaner guitar tone offer a well-timed respite from the massive central riff. Unlike the rosy-hued “Caravan”, Peart’s barbed lyrics take a swipe at blind conformity (be it organized religion, politics, or economics) that feels more eloquent and darkly humourous than your average young metal band is capable of: “Blind men in the market / Buying what we’re sold / Believe in what we’re told / Until our final breath/While our loving Watchmaker/Loves us all to death.”

In the end, how can Rush fans go wrong? An exciting new tour, a movie that’s sure to be a blast, and a pair of terrific new songs (that cost just a couple bucks) that will not only tide us over until the release of the actual album, but proves once again there’s plenty of good music in this band yet. It’s going to be a good summer.

(Anthem)

Rating: 8

Both songs are available together for purchase through Amazon.com or the iTunes music store now.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.