Showing posts with label green day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label green day. Show all posts

Saturday, March 2, 2019

the top ten best hit songs of 2009

So I'll admit to being surprised that this, of all things, is the next top ten people want me to cover. You'd think folks would want me to finish off the 2010s proper before going back to 2009, but there you have it.

But I get it, because while I'd struggle to call it the best of the 2000s, 2009 was a pretty glorious year. Not only did it showcase the birth of YouTube chart criticism, but it was such a potent year to cover! 2009 is widely accepted by most as the birth of the club boom, where the kinetic, rock-tinged pop of the mid-2000s picked up more layers of glitter and went to party hard, picking up a grabbag of whatever hip-hop had survived the ringtone era, whatever rock that was willing to party, and basically lock the placid country scene out of the clubhouse entirely. More to the point, it was impossible to not see 2009 as a year of reckless abandon: the economy had crashed, most of my generation was broke, and if we we didn't have money, we were going to party as if we did - it might have seemed bleak, but I think a lot of us were riding the contact high that came from a new president and a desperate desire to believe in hope... even if that contact high would lead to incoherent silliness and a hangover we'd only halfheartedly regret. But I'll say this: even if I've slowed down a little bit, it's hard not to miss the manic fun of this year, especially when there were so many great hits, so let's get things started with...

Monday, October 10, 2016

video review: 'revolution radio' by green day

Well, this happened. Overall, I really wish I could love this as much as Green Day's best, but at the end of the day it's only pretty good with an inspired closing track, and you don't get to the top on that alone.

Next up, though... man, so much metal and rock I want to cover. OneRepublic is going to wait a bit, let's hit either Epica, Joyce Manor, or Opeth first - stay tuned!

album review: 'revolution radio' by green day

And there were people who thought I wasn't going to review this.

In truth, I wasn't going to miss covering a new Green Day album for the world, even though I'd make the argument that I've got a complicated relationship with the band. Like most people of my age I gravitated to American Idiot in the mid-2000s, but as those of you know who saw my review with Jon over ARTV, the album that really won me over the band was 21st Century Breakdown, a gloriously rock opera that was scattershot lyrically and about the furthest thing from raw punk music, but was too damn catchy for me to resist and ultimately has aged a lot better than other Green Day records. And from there, I went backwards - I dug into the early 90s Green Day albums that set the stage, including the record Kerplunk which with its sharp songwriting and drop-tuned grooves probably remains my favourite of their early years. Their work throughout the mid-to-late 90s... I don't hate it by any stretch, but I definitely get why it took American Idiot to reignite the sharper creative spark, even though I did really love some of the weirder twists on Warning like 'Misery' - that album at least tried to tell more stories.

And then 2012 happened. Those of you who read my blog can go back to find the three reviews I wrote for Green Day's triple release in the fall of that year, but suffice to say it did not go well. I'll admit I wasn't exactly a great writer back then, but I also went back to revisit those records for the purpose of this review and that was a mistake. It's not that there weren't a few good songs scattered across, but the bad and especially the bland outweighed the good and it really should have been compressed into one great record instead of three mediocre to bad ones. But one of the most damning criticisms was that the trilogy made Green Day look and sound out-of-touch and disconnected, not with the youth that's always been their audience but the social and political issues now, that could have had ripe material for commentary.

So fast forward to 2016, Green Day have a new album... and look, when I got my copy early I almost didn't even want to cover it. In a year where so many pop punk bands have struggled for relevance, I'm not sure I could take Green Day screwing it up again, and they were significantly older. That said, given how absolutely turgid and unstable this year has been in terms of politics, they've got the most fruitful material since the Bush administration and I had to hope that they'd at least do something interesting with Revolution Radio... so did they pull it off?

Monday, June 10, 2013

album review: 'the wack album' by the lonely island

As I've mentioned in a previous review, I don't tend to like reviewing comedy albums, and this is mostly rooted in two factors. For starters, everyone has different tastes in comedy, and I've long ago accepted I have differing tastes in comparison to the general population. Thus, if I'm going to be judging a comedy album (and since, I'll stress, my reviews are my undiluted opinions and thus are framed through my contextual vision), I feel that my review might be misleading, even if I explain my point of view in advance.

But even if I did lay all my cards on the table ahead of time, I'm still not sure I'd be a good comedy album reviewer, mostly because my knowledge of comedy is - at least in my point of view - somewhat limited. I don't tend to consider myself funny, I understand the fundamentals of setting up a joke but really have difficulty grasping some of the subtleties, and I haven't seen a lot of the comedy gold standards. Sure, I'm trying to catch up, but in comparison with my knowledge of music (I can play an instrument and sing, I can read sheet music, I've done a bit of production work, I have an in-depth knowledge of the charts, and I listen to a grotesque amount of material), I don't think I'm at a level where I can speak to comedy with the same expertise.

So why am I reviewing the new Lonely Island album, an act formed by three SNL actors that is fairly explicitly a comedy act? Well, here's the funny thing: I have a hard time dismissing them as a purely comedic exercise. Or to put it another way, like with Weird Al, I actually will give them credit as musical artists. That's something I don't often say about comedy acts, or even comedians attempting to be musicians (in case you all forgot, Eddie Murphy had a semi-successful singing career).

Now some of you are probably asking why I give The Lonely Island a pass here, particularly when you break the act down to its disparate elements, they really only have one main joke: taking the shallow conceits and style of modern hip-hop and rap and talking about sillier material, with the joke being that it's inherently funny to see a trio of white goofballs behaving like hardcore gangstas. Now there's more in the details, but The Lonely Island have structured a great deal of their career off of this joke, and for the most part, it has held up. And I do not mean to dismiss the talent or the ingenuity of The Lonely Island at all here - while they occasionally go for the gross-out humour more than I prefer, they still have great comic timing and a wide variety of subjects they tackle well. It also helps that unlike former SNL acts of the past - namely the Blues Brothers featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd - The Lonely Island aren't trying to be taken as 'serious' musicians or demanding respect from the musical community.

But here's the thing - in a bizarre twist that could only be explained by the changing trends in hip-hop and rap, The Lonely Island got respect from the musical community, and the incredible plethora of high-profile guest stars they continue to recruit for their work speaks to it. And while part of it likely comes from the fact that some pop stars wanted to jump on the bandwagon after Justin Timberlake and take the piss out of their own material, the major point is that in the shallow and increasingly ridiculous pop and rap landscape of the late 2000s, The Lonely Island fit in astoundingly well. Songs like 'Jizz In My Pants', 'I'm On A Boat', 'Jack Sparrow', 'Dick In A Box', 'I Just Had Sex', and many more did surprisingly well on the pop charts because their lyrical content wasn't that far removed from the pop scene as it was. And coupled with the fact that Andy Samberg and the rest of his crew knew how to write decent hooks, it's not entirely surprising why The Lonely Island did as well as they did. Hell, I'd argue on the musical front they managed to beat a fair number of the 'legit' artists that were putting out material during the club boom, with the most immediate comparison point being LMFAO (with their one joke from 'Sexy And I Know It' being 'Heheheh, butts'). 

But now it's 2013, and the hip-hop/rap world has changed a bit. The wave of darker, more serious-sounding PBR&B isn't as easy to parody. Well, that's not quite true, but I'd argue that serious, more conscientious rap is a little tougher to make silly jokes about than the avalanche of ridiculous club music. And there's also the legitimate concern that The Lonely Island, by attempting to sound like the darker, bleaker rap might lose some of their lightweight and fun personality. So, can they pull it off?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

album review: 'tre!' by green day

I almost didn’t even have the heart to start the album.

Those of you who have read my previous reviews (here and here) can understand why. Green Day’s phenomenally misguided attempt to construct an epic three album trilogy was disheartening to hear about and even worse to actually listen through, and after the general heap of mediocre shit that was Dos!, I honestly didn’t want to give Green Day a third chance at success here. And while I still can say I like Green Day’s older work, the more I listened to Uno! and Dos!, the more I felt the charm and shine rub off of those old albums I loved as I knew that Green Day wouldn’t produce anything close to being that good again.

But then I paused and reconsidered that opinion, because according to initial press junkets, Green Day’s Tre! was going to be an exploration of the arena rock styling they had adapted for American Idiot and with greater success in 21st Century Breakdown. Now, a lot of Green Day fans really dislike 21st Century Breakdown, and I understand why. It’s haphazard, it’s unfocused, it’s broadly political, and it doesn’t really have much of a definite target – in other words, it’s the only possible political album anyone could have expected from the perpetually adolescent Billie Joe Armstrong, but I digress.

Of course, the critics also disliked 21st Century Breakdown because it took a great deal of influence from The Beatles and The Who and The Ramones and other classic rock/punk rock acts, almost to the point where certain songs sound suspiciously like covers (‘Last Night On Earth’ being particularly egregious). But if I’m being honest, it’s never bothered me all that much because Green Day had enough signature style and flair to make the songs uniquely theirs while still paying homage to the greats.

So while I had absolutely no faith that Tre! would actually work, I did have the slightest hope that Green Day might be able to pull out of their downward spiral and produce something. I mean, you hope for the best, expect the worst, right? Maybe Green Day had remembered something they learned from 21st Century Breakdown, right?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

album review: 'dos!' by green day

You know, sometimes it really sucks to know a lot of music.

I understand that's probably one of the whitest, most hipster-esque things I could possibly say here, a statement that practically epitomizes 'first-world problems'. I mean, look at how that statement looks: 'Aww, look at Silens, he's bitching because he just knows about too much music because he has the free time and energy to listen to album after album. Yeah, I know I had a tiny violin stashed somewhere...'

I get how it looks - but I also can't deny that there is some rationale behind my feeling here. It's the feeling you get when you have submerged yourself in an interest so completely that nothing - nothing - surprises you anymore. It's the movie critic who can call every plot twist in the conventional family movie he's obliged to see, the TV critic who knows every beat of the filler episode, the video game critic playing a rehash or a remake without the slightest vestige of innovation. It's a really depressing feeling, because  the surprise has leaked from the experience. That thrill of discovering something new, that heady rush of excitement... it just fades away when you realize everything is going to be rote and by the numbers. 

It gets even worse when you know that you can squint slightly and directly trace the lineage of the art you're looking at to its ancestor, that you know exactly what they're building off of or ripping off. It's why so many professional critics get so damn excited when they see original IPs with interesting, fresh ideas, even if those IPs might not objectively be all that well-executed. They can overlook the slipshod nature or the shoestring budget or the clumsy story or the lousy production - it's something new!

Green Day isn't something new. And when I picked up their newest album Dos! in their trilogy of albums they are releasing in the last months of 2012, I had the sinking feeling that I could predict pretty much exactly what was coming. Considering that the first of the trilogy, Uno!, had basically been a recycling of their previous, better material - and not a good recycling, at that - I had low expectations going into this. Particularly when I heard that the album was basing itself on garage rock, and it's not easy to make material from that genre sound unique or interesting, or at least not completely done to death (punk/garage rock fans, settle the fuck down, I'll come back to this). And considering Green Day's penchant for recycling, I didn't have anything close to high hopes.

But then that irritatingly optimistic voice, the one that justifies my liking for S Club 7 and Aqua and Toby Keith and the Backstreet Boys and Panic! At The Disco, popped up and said, 'Silens, you loved 21st Century Breakdown even despite the fact the majority of the tracks were direct riffs from The Who and The Beatles and The Ramones! You defended that album because Green Day was at least attempting to build off of the material of the past in new ways with new themes and styles. And sure, while the thematic elements on 21st Century Breakdown didn't entirely work - at all - the album was still solid enough to appreciate the disparate elements as much as the whole!'

And that was true, I mused, as I started listening to Dos!. Indeed, you could never accuse Green Day of too much original thought. They aren't like Muse, who throw every good and terrible idea they've ever had onto their albums to see what sticks (basically my opinion of The 2nd Law in a nutshell, by the way). No, Green Day has always built their genre-exploratory material off of the punk and protopunk and arena rock of the past, which is at least a solid foundation. But what has always distinguished them from being deliberate ripoffs is that they actually do take a different reinterpretation of the basic structures from whence they build. Sometimes it works, sometimes it really doesn't.

And here...

I honestly thought Uno! was as bad as it could get for Green Day. I was wrong.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

album review: 'uno!' by green day

I was afraid of this happening.

I mean, when I heard that Green Day was planning on putting out a trilogy of albums - and planning on doing so all within about six months of each other, my immediate reaction was disbelief. They would have that much material that was ready for prime-time? They would be able to construct three whole albums based upon material recorded over about five months? They would have enough things to say to last three entire albums?

And then I realized, with a feeling of crushing dread filling up my stomach, that they wouldn't - they couldn't. As much as I like Green Day - and I do, let's make no mistake about that (favourite album is Kerplunk, followed by 21st Century Breakdown and Dookie) - I knew instinctively that unless they were trying to write to a specific concept, they weren't going to be able to keep everything good. They couldn't stretch it out that far. Even though they divided each of the trilogy into musical themes (the first being power pop/punk, the second being garage rock, the third being stadium rock), I knew that they couldn't have enough great, unique material to span three albums. 

And I'm disappointed to say that my original suspicions were correct. Even worse, I don't think I went far enough - as of right now, Uno! is Green Day's worst album. 

Yeah, worse than Warning. I went there.