Some overdue reviews...
Have to say so far this year we are having a mega year for albums - well I am anyway!
Rush - Clockwork Angels.
Long awaited album from Rush. Clockwork Angels has been in development for what seems ages, largely as the band started on it, took a year out to go touring with the Time Machine tour where they played a couple of songs off it, then returned to finish it off. So not to the timescale of Chinese Democracy but still a while some Snakes and Arrows came out, but it was most definitely worth the wait. Whilst Rush have always produced good stuff you can't help by say they did slowly decline from the heights of Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures and Signals (my personal favourite Rush album). Clockwork Angels is back right up there. Firstly it is a concept album - what prog rock fan couldn't help but applaud the getting back to that. However it isn't once long piece or a couple of long 20 min epics like from Hemispheres etc. each song is a stand alone song in it's own right. We kick off with Caravan and we are there with a classic Rush sound, this has matured over the years but the drums of Peart with Geddy Lee's clanking bass set the tone. Geddy's vocals are in his lower range as used from the late 80s onwards and Mr Lifeson is simply one of the best 3 piece guitarists ever able to fill the space with large chords and riffs - the balance with keyboards is well balanced on this release so Alex is at the front again and clearly revels in it. This is no doubt thier best release in a long long time, if you've ever liked Rush you will love this. It won't win new fans I doubt but I don't think that'll worry the boys from Toronto too much. Highlights are The Anarchist, Headlong Flight and the closer The Garden which features one absolutely fantastic solo my Alex Lifeson. Utter class.
Rosie Eade - No Fairytale
Rosie bills herself as "the folk pixie" - originally hailing from Essex she is now based in Exeter via Cambridge. This album, her debut, was actually recorded in good old Rochester and features one or two friends of mine - nod of acknowledgement to Glenn Barnes for a start there. Ok so, a mix of traditional folk redone and Rosie's own material. She has a fantastic voice, great range and inflection. Couple that with some lovely nylon strung guitar parts which you realise cover a lot of moods/genres quickly and you realise Rosie is no one-trick pony. The opening track Seagull Eye View (also available as a single) is one of the highlights along with Tiddy Mun, Cinderella Sticks the Knife In (!) and Venice which you can get as an MP3 download off Rosie's Site - go check that out it'll give you a flavour of this great stuff.
John Mayer - Born and Raised
I first got into John Meyer after seeing him live supporting Eric Clapton in Hyde Park. Then he played a set of electric blues and more acoustic rock self penned material. His Live in LA album highlighted the range of the man, Hendrix trio blow outs to solo acoustic singer to large band AOR. I've bought his stuff since.
This is the best I've heard from him. The title track features Crosby and Nash and frankly that is a great reference if you've never heard him. If you used to listen to After the Goldrush by Neil Young I think you'd love this stuff. Fantastic LA production and playing produces an incredibly polished album and there are some great songs on here - Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey being my personal favourite along with Born & Raised and Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967.