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Friday, 15 May 2009

The new Green Day album


I bought the new Green Day album this week, 21st Century Breakdown, something which a little part of me felt that I'd grown out of, but it seems that the marketing, the PR and sheer pull of Green Day reeled me in - one thing's for sure, it wasn't the songs that reeled me in because I hadn't heard any of them when I decided in HMV that I wasn't going to fork out a tenner for it.

And pretty much since the first listen I decided I was going to write a post on it, but I wasn't quite sure why, but the more I listened I think it was because I was just that little bit too much disappointed with what I heard. I don't like knocking bands for the sake of it - there are enough places out there where we can all read negative shit about music and musicians but I don't want ihrtmusique to be one of those places.

To give you some background, Green Day have been a significant part of my musical life - perhaps not quite as major as what are for me the biggies of Queen, Guns N' Roses, Beastie Boys, Dave Brubeck and a whole bunch of others that I won't bore you with here, but Green Day are definitely in the B league, and that's not an insult.

Dookie pretty much single handedly got me through the first year of university, and specifically through a messy break up with an evil little dwarf that I at the time believed erroneously to be the love of my life, because Dookie was about the only one of my 15 CDs that didn't have any ballads on so I played it pretty much non-stop. Incidentally, my mate Dan who I spoke to about this also had another great tale of the influence of Dookie, saying that he once ran the battery on his car out sitting and listening to the album in a car park while waiting to windsurf, and found when he'd finished surfing that he couldn't get home in the car with the dead battery.

Then there was the brilliant gig at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where Green Day and Blink 182 co-headlined in all their early-2000s glory. Incidentally, I watched that gig from the private gantry on the side of the stage with one of my bands of the time, Papa Roach - pretty cool! And then more recently, I remember being distinctly blown away by the amazingness of the American Idiot video (below), coming as it did from a band who I thought were no longer of concern, while they decided they were still of concern and managed to capture the zeitgeist and join that exclusive club of half a dozen bands or so that can legitimately claim to be the biggest band in the world (I'm thinking U2, Coldplay, Kings Of Leon, The Killers, Foo Fighters - any others?).

Anyway, 21st Century Breakdown. It's an odd album. They've had no little press coverage in the UK, not least a Q cover...

And an NME cover...

And they also had quite a bit of early coverage (all PR driven no doubt) about comparisons between their album cover and the Blur album cover for Think Tank...

But leaving all that aside, what disappointed me was that musically a lot of it seemed to have been done before, some of it by the band themselves.

Billie Joe sings on Before The Lobotomy, I'm not stoned I'm just fucked up, I got so high I can't stand up, almost deliberately contradicting his younger self that sung Am I just paranoid or am I stoned? on Basket Case way back in 94.

On the title track there's a guitar lick at about 4m24s that is the spitting image of Kiss' God Gave Rock And Roll To You, and just as I was getting over that along came the drums at the beginning of the next track, and first single Know Your Enemy (Dan's opinion - not impressed) that I could have sworn were actually sampled from Stone Roses' I Am The Resurrection.

Sure, it's a concept album split into three Acts (Heroes & Cons, Charlatans & Saints, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades), which of course is always a tricky thing to pull off, but again, going back to the press, I was also struck by what that meant when you think about it in relation to the recent reports that the band are looking into some sort of Green Day rock opera, using the same writer behind the highly successful Spring Awakening musical, all about teens and their sexual awakening in late 19th century Germany and now a hit on Broadway and in the West End of London. Concept albums? Rock operas? It's a far cry from When I Come Around.

The most telling part of all of this was the sticker on the front of the CD, featuring a quote from Alternative Press, claiming that this was the Most Anticipated Album of 2009. Exactly. Anticipated. Not received. Pity.

(PS - I've just read the post back for reasons of spell-checking and realised that it may come off as a bit stuck in-my-ways, bands shouldn't try new things kind of thing, but I don't feel like that - I love bands that develop and mature, it's just they have to do it well, otherwise what's the point?)

(PPS - just noticed the whole thing is produced by Butch Vig who I was listening to just the other day in the form of an amazing remix he did of House Of Pain's Shamrocks & Shenanigans - a 12" I'd clean forgotten I had.)

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