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Love them or hate them. Green Day has captured the hearts two generations of youth. First, in 1994 with their major label debut, Dookie, the band attracted a large punk following, still in the wake of the death of Kurt Cobain, and then again in 2004, with their punk-rock opera masterpiece, American Idiot, they managed to capture a new generation of ipod-wielding, MTV viewing teenagers.

 

Heading to the writing stage of their follow-up to 2004’s highly successful Idiot, Green Day were faced with a rather hefty predicament. They could either continue to isolate their old fans more, by straying further into the wonderland of pop influences they explored on AI, or they could erase the past 5 years from their memory, and go back to writing their signature, Clash-inspired, 3-minute punk tunes. It’s hard to tell exactly what direction Green Day took with this album, but there is clearly something for every generation of Green Day fans.

 

After several months in the studio, Green Day has come up with 21st Century Breakdown. While the album doesn’t follow as strict a narrative as AI, it is still apparent that Billie, Tre, and Mike went into the studio with some rough concept in the back of their minds. It can be established from several in-depth listenings, that the album follows the story of a couple who are suffering in the midst of the disastrous occurrences of the early 21st century. The tale is compelling and heartfelt throughout the album. You can feel the anger, love, pain, and inquisition of the characters though Billie Joe’s vocals. The only real let-down of the story is the fact that a set-in-stone ending is not very evident. Many questions are still left unanswered at the conclusion of the album’s final track, See The Light. Nevertheless, Green Day once again have succeeded in sucking their listeners into a story, whether the listeners are aware of it or not.

 

Obvious attention to song structure was taken in the writing process of Green Day’s previous effort, American Idiot. They evolved from basic 3-minute pop song structures, to 9-minute tracks, consisting of several sections, varying in mood and musical tone. However, it is evident on Breakdown, that there is a substantial difference between knowledge and wisdom. On Breakdown, Green Day display the knowledge needed to write track after track of originally structured songs. The album’s title track feels like Jesus of Suburbia, condensed into five minutes, and the constant evolution of tracks like Before the Lobotomy and 21 Guns is simply breathtaking, but the band also lacks the wisdom to enforce this loose structural control on all of the album’s tracks. For example, Know Your Enemy suffers from far too much repetition. The vocal melody and chord progression is identical for almost the entire song. Sure, it’s one of the catchiest tracks on the record, but on an album where Green Day make it clear that they are not “fucking around” (as stated in Horseshoes and Handgrenades), Know Your Enemy sticks out like a sore thumb, as juvenile and immature.

 

No matter how much more effort has been put into this album, 21st Century Breakdown is still a Green Day record, which means that you can’t expect much on the side of instrumental prowess. Armstrong’s rare guitar solo moments still follow the vocal melody almost note-for-note, Tre Cool keeps a beat without taking anything over the top, and Mike Dirnt does nothing more than provide a backing for Billie Joe’s power chords. There is nothing ground-breaking on this album in terms of instrumentation, but you couldn’t expect, or want any more from a Green Day album.

 

Lyrically, Billie Joe is just as angry as ever. He’s angry at the government. He’s angry at society. Hell, he’s probably even angry at himself. What he has failed to do in the past, however, is channel that anger effectively into his lyrics. This doesn’t seem to be an issue on Breakdown. Billie Joe displays much more lyrical maturity than he previously has. The track 21 Guns, an anti-war anthem, is some of Armstrong’s best work, lyrically speaking. He takes time questioning the morality of war (Do you know what’s worth fighting for / when it’s not worth dying for?), as well as the mindset of soldiers (Did you stand too close to the fire? / Like a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone).

 

They are loved by many and loathed by many more, but when the hype surrounding this release is put aside, 21st Century Breakdown can be seen as Green Day’s best record in 15 years.

Top 3 Tracks:
1. 21 Guns
2. Horseshoes And Handgrenades
3. East Jesus Nowhere

RATINGS:
Sound: 7/10
Lyrics: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Naive.

This is a lyrical piece that I wrote. It was originally a poem but I adapted it because I thought it was better this way, and I had this really nice acoustic progression and melody that I had been toying around with. This is still quite rough but I hope to improve it as I do believe it has potential. If you have some feedback for me about this please leave a comment :).

It's pretty much about religion and the varying opinions that people have about the possibility of some form of higher power.

Back in the day,

I went to the Sunday morning reading,

And I saw the noble king was bleeding,

He’s human after all.

 

I’ll show you peace,

You wonder if there’s any point believing,

Because in the end we’ll all just end up grieving,

We’re human after all.

 

If ghosts lacked their transparency,

All would be said and done,

But if they’re just watching from above,

The war is never won.

 

Nail the coffin to the ground,

Hope the truth is never found,

It’s better to believe,

It’s better to be naïve.

 

Yeah, you’d believe,

If his force had sent you reeling,

If his presence had a feeling,

You’re human after all.

 

You don’t agree,

Why does the savior need high ceilings?

Why should we spend an hour kneeling?

You’re human after all.

 

If ghosts lacked their transparency,

All would be said and done,

But if they’re just watching from above,

The war is never won.

 

Nail the coffin to the ground,

Hope the truth is never found,

It’s better to believe,

It’s better to be naïve.

 

One day the church will drown,

In a pool of pretension,

Priestly duties,

Don’t serve the same importance as comical invention,

The bible is a fairytale,

They all lived happily ever after,

If you ever want to be man,

You must understand mythology is your master.

 

Nail the coffin to the ground,

Hope the truth is never found,

It’s better to believe,

It’s better to be naïve.

I don’t think I’ll ever believe,

I’ll never be that naïve.

Review #1: The Killers - Day & Age

Ever since their debut offering, Hot Fuss, The Killers have had their ups and downs. Hot Fuss caught the attention of the mainstream media, and gave The Killers their big break. It was a superb album, consisting of eleven tracks, each as dense and strong as the next one. The first single, When You Were Young, off their sophomore record, Sam's Town, was as catchy and commercially viable as anything off Hot Fuss, and also followed the same basic Alt. Rock formula, but the album was, overall, a disappointment. It seemed that The Killers were trying too hard to change their sound, that the whole record came off as appearing to be a bit pretentious. With the band's third album, Day & Age, they have ventured even further into a world of early 90's synth-pop, that was hinted at in Sam's Town. The difference this time around, is that the transition into this different sound seems much more natural, as they have dived right into the pool, rather than just dipping their toe in, like on their second album.

If I had to describe Day & Age in just one word, it would be "ridiculous". Either this band has no sense of musical consistency, or they strive to have a completely out-there theme to every song. Not one other artist could make an album this strange, seem so natural.

The first track, Losing Touch, is the perfect way to introduce the listener to the album. The track consists of a mix of slightly off-pitch  vocals, overdubbing, horn lines buried beneath several synthesizer tracks,and more studio "slickness" than Britney Spears' latest recording. The lyrics seem to deal with someone losing trust in another person, after they spread rumors about them. The overall feel of this track is intense, and the main horn line is very catchy.

This collection of tracks, does seem to be more of an experiment, rather than an album. There is no real concept, other than, "Let's go nuts!". Day & Age ventures into every corner of the universe, from the african style chanting on This Is Your Life, to the funky beat of Joy Ride, which seems a have a slight reggae edge to it. None of this experimentation seems forced in any way, and every song is structured perfectly.

The standout track of the album is, without a doubt, A Dustland Fairytale, a synth-pop ballad about The Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers' parents, using examples of a modern-day Cinderella-esque story. The lyrics are extremely heartfelt (The decades disappear like sinking ships / But we persevere, God gives us hope / But we still fear what we don't know), and the piano track is simple, yet extremely captivating. A Dustland Fairytale is possibly the greatest track The Killers ever have, and ever will write.

The album still isn't without it's share of radio-friendly rock tracks. If Human was too off-beat or self indulgent for you to enjoy, tracks like Spaceman, and Neon Tiger, certainly have enough of an Alt. Rock edge to satisfy fans of The Killers' early work.

Listeners who disliked the direction in which The Killers were heading on Sam's Town are likely to hate this album with a vengeance. But those who felt that Sam's Town had the right basic idea, but was too pretentious for its own good, may just find that this album is exactly what they thought Sam's Town should have, and could have been. At the end of the day, what you get from Day & Age, is pretty much what you would get if you put Sam's Town into a distillation machine, and all of the Hot Fuss influence rose to the top.

Top 3 tracks:
1. A Dustland Fairytale
2. Spaceman
3. Losing Touch

RATINGS:
Sound: 8/10
Lyrics: 8/10
Overall: 8/10