Monday, May 13, 2013

Album Review: Leerone "Heart Shaped Bullets"

The name of the newest Leerone CD is “Heart Shaped Bullets”. This very talented independent singer/songwriter/musician saunters onto this new record, guns blazing. Listeners have been put on notice.

The first song “Use My Lips” has got a slow swagger peppered with synth. The backdrop is the perfect canvas for the singer to come in and breathlessly dominate the lyric.

Later on the record behind a charging guitar Leerone dives into the story of what the narrator would “do to you Suzanne,” were she a man.  The imagined Leerone gender-bending really hits on familiar themes for this singer. So often her songs capitalize on the guy/girl cat and mouse games in love and relationships.

Leerone takes a bit of a turn on a song like “Feel.” This tune begins with the sound of a very old-timey, clock-tower-at-midnight, last dance at the prom love song. By the songs end though the choir behind and her impressive vocal reaches high and fills up the space as though she were leading a revival chorus.

“Cherry Red” has the feel of an industrial/punk song, “She’s Your Bird” and “Pleased to Meet” have the ambling westward sound and story familiar of classic songwriters like Johnny Cash, so that by the time the albums conclusion comes around with “Trouble” we are reminded why we love Leerone. Her elegant breathy voice and high register piano playing are wonderfully melded with some classy production values. The conclusion of “Heart Shaped Bullets” is reflective, sultry and celebratory so that when the talented songstress asks:

“do I wanna gamble,
sit at your table,
be able to find me some trouble?”

As the listener, you are there with her, watching her, captivated. You can’t even help the fact that your leg’s pushing the seat out opposite you.

That’s when you know that you’re about to find yourself in some trouble too.

“Heart Shaped Bullets” is available on iTunes. Connect with Leerone at her website, on YouTube, or MySpace.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour 2013: Mohegan Sun Arena

As the rain fell down on Uncasville, Connecticut, the band Rush was getting ready to tear things up in Mohegan Sun’s Arena. Rush are currently continuing their Clockwork AngelsTour and while some may even question where Rush has been, as evidenced tonight, there are plenty of people who follow the bands movement closely. Moreover the band is still in the sweet spot of being great performers and talented showman where they have lingered for years.

The Canadian trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart have been kicking around since 1974 in their current incarnation, the band taking its name all the way back to the late 1960’s. One thing that’s clear though is that their synergy has never been stronger.

I am a casual Rush fan (I can’t pick up the title and lyrical content of each song in seconds as the vast majority of my fellow concert goers could) but I have been since I first heard them in the late 1980’s. One of the first cassette tapes I ever had was Rush’s 1981 masterpiece “Moving Pictures.” Like Michael Jackson, U2, and Rush. Those were my first three cassette tapes ever. I was an aspiring drummer and I was mesmerized by Peart’s impressive chops. Chops he still has today.

The Arena was pretty well packed, something I was a tad surprised about for a Thursday night in May. Still I shouldn’t have been taken aback as Rush fans rank high on the list of caravan devotees, somewhere between the callous disregard I noted recently atan Eddie Vedder show for the Pearl Jam lead singer and maybe a band like Phish or the big daddy, The Grateful Dead.
 Everyone inside the near capacity arena was on their feet mouthing the words bopping along such that the aluminum risers that our seats were on were waving in time with the flavor of the music.

The girl to my right was maybe 15 or so and was here with her dad; they both loved every minute of this show. Suddenly it occurred to me that dad was probably listening to Rush when he was her age or younger. They both shared the enthusiasm for the songs, mimicked the huge synth notes, guitar lines, and drum solos and sang out their favorite lines together.

Geddy Lee was gracious enough welcoming the audience but all three of them just seemed intent on playing. Lee at one point promised we gluttons for punishment that the band had “about six million songs to play,” to which the enthusiastic crowd roared. So the band got back up and began playing again.

A familiar AOR radio song like “Limelight” evoked a kind of swell from the audience that would be repeated a bunch more times throughout the evening.

Whenever Peart would hit one of his thundering cymbal crashes or Lifeson would articulate one of his signature riffs dozens of ARMS would flail wildly in the packed audience as though they were the ones controlling the sound. It was quite a sight to behold.

The band took the set in halves. Right before the end of the first half Lee began riffing some kind of an extended slap bass guitar solo followed by a musical ensemble number. Towards the end of the number though Lee and Lifeson ducked offstage and Peart took his turn playing a commanding and enchanted solo.

Rush even went so far as to set off explosions. What started out as some red flares, just before their intermission, wound up as one frighteningly big explosion.

This tour will continue now through August in the United States and Canada and may extend even beyond that. If you are looking for impressive musicianship, enthusiastic crowds, and a community who loves playing and hearing music then get out to the 2013 Clockwork Angels Tour!