Wednesday, August 17, 2011

21st Century Breakdown - Green Day (Review)

Okay, lets get one thing straight before I start this review. Green Day has been my favorite band since like 3rd grade. From 3rd grade to 6th grade I listened to nothing but Green Day. This was just about the time American Idiot came out. Back than I was too young to be a critic, but for some reason I never liked American Idiot either. My thoughts on that album have not changed a bit. I still do not like it, but I still liked them as a band and I looked forward to the next album. Well, I shouldn't have. This is worse than American Idiot. There is not one more element from Green Day pre-2004 included on this album. I tried so hard to like this album. I looked at the lyrics, and music at every way possible trying to some how find a reason to like this album. I failed. Now it just takes up space on my itunes.

"Song of the Century" is just an intro to the album. There is nothing but Billie Joe's vocals and radio static. It has a nice melody, and it does a good job setting up the album, but from a non-artistic standpoint, it just seems like filler.

The title track, "21st Century Breakdown", is the best single on the album. It has a very nice melody and a pretty complex song structure. About halfway through the song, it breaks into what seems to be a whole different song. It gains tempo, and has a lot more energy than the first half. Towards the end of the song, it falls into somewhat of a ballad. It is Green Day's attempt at being an epic arena rock band. They didn't fail, however, Green Day is not an arena rock band. They are a pop/punk band, and they should keep it that way.

The first single, "Know Your Enemy", is down right awful. This feels, for the most part, like filler. It is repetitive throughout the whole song. The whole song consists of pretty much one melody, besides a twenty second bridge. It then breaks into a guitar solo which is just playing the damn melody for the whole time! Billie Joe tries to revive the song by screeching toward the end, but fails.

"Viva La Gloria!" starts off with just vocals and piano. Although the piano is nice like this, It, again, doesn't sound like Green Day. After the song kicks into high gear, it sounds a lot more like Green Day. It is pretty catchy. It is upbeat and actually sounds like some of their older stuff. It is alright, but nothing I will remember years from now.

"Before the Lobotomy" is probably the least memorable track on the album. It begins with an acoustic guitar and vocals and it is extremely boring. No good melody, and nothing special. When the distorted guitars come in, you are expecting something epic to happen, but nothing. Just a lazy guitar riff, and a lazy melody. Not the worse on the album, but the least memorable.

"Christian's Inferno" is one of the best songs on the album. It is much darker than the rest of the album. It really doesn't have the poppy sound the rest of the album revolves around. The verses are, for lack of a better word, very trippy. The guitar and the voice have an effect that makes it even more trippy. The chorus is very fun, and breaks away from the trippy feel. The solo is a tad lazy, but it doesn't drag it down much. It sounds like Green Day's side project, The Network, a lot. I would have to say this is the coolest song on the album.

"Last Night On Earth" is another very good track. It is catchy and pretty slow for a Green Day song, but it still sounds like it's a Green Day song (unlike some other ones on the album). It revolves around piano and acoustic guitar, which is nice. The electric guitar sound very nice too. Songs like these are what makes me look forward to what Green Day does next. I get let down everytime, but still. There are always a couple great songs on every shitty album.

Another single on the album is "East Jesus Nowhere". It is not good. It really expresses their pretentious side, and I really hate it. It just doesn't have the same charm all their other stuff has. I miss the days when Green Day were just a few punks from Oakland. They have taken advantage of their "rockstardom" and took it to an unnecessary level where they just seem like pretentious assholes.

"Peacemakers" is the one of the lowest points on the album (besides one other, which I will get to later). It is just very dumb. It seems like they are trying to get attention for doing something totally unexpected, because it just sounds childish. It is really stupid. It sounds like a mexican party song. It is hard to get through the song without laughing.

"Last of the American Girls" is catchy as all hell, but is way to poppy and over produced to listen to more than twice. The melody is great and all, but this is not a good song at all. Very generic lyrics written a thousand times before by every other band. It sounds like a bad Blink 182 song. This is the kind of song that has gotten them the reputation of being a band for 12 year old girls.

That leads into a song called "Murder City". It isn't very memorable, but it is actually an okay track. It sounds like it could have came from Nimrod with some major production tweaks. The production and the (pretentious) lyrics are the only thing seperating it from Nimrod. It is a straight forward pop/punk song. It is okay, but, again, nothing I will crave for in the future.

The next song is very cool. It is called "Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)". It sounds reminiscent of old Scooby Doo cartoons with a punk twist on them. Although that may sound dumb, it is executed very well. I love listening to this song. It sounds like something you would hear on the album Warning. It actually songds very similar to the song "Misery" on the album Warning. It has a very unique sound that is hard to explain. You do not hear this kind of song by any bands now. It was quite refreshing when I heard this song.

"Restless Heart Syndrome" is a major bore-fest. I have been making many similarities in this review, but this song sounds like nothing. When I say nothing, I literally mean it sounds like I am listening to nothing through my speakers. When it gets about half way throught the song it gets heavy and sounds like the end of "Blvd. Of Broken Dreams", which I hate with a passion. Bottom line : Don't listen to this song no matter who you are. It has absolutly no substance or character what so ever.

"Horseshoes And Handgrenades" sounds like a failed attempt to sound like their other side project, Foxboro Hot tubs. I love the Foxboro Hot Tubs, I personally think that is the best release by them in the past 10 years, but this song is awful. It sounds like a Foxboro Hot Tubs tribute band who are awful. That is a better way to explain it. It is a tad heavier than the rest of the tracks, but still just as bad.

The next song is "The Static Age". It is nothing too embarassing, yet nothing too great either. The chorus has a very similar melody to "Church On Sunday" on their album Warning. This song was my favorite song when the album came out, but it did not age well. Now, I just see it as another mediocore Green Day song.

Now for the biggest shit stain of a song. "21 Guns" is the biggest piece of shit Green Day has ever released. It sounds like every other soulless top forty bullshit song you hear on the radio. Idiotic idea releasing this song as a single. Shit like this is what makes me embarassed to say I am Green Day fan. Because of this song, I keep my Green Day fandom to myself. I don't understand why the hell they had to release something like this. It makes no sense to me.

"American Eulogy" starts off with the intro to the album "Song Of The Century" with different lyrics. The verse melody is strangely similar to "Deadbeat Holiday" by them on the album Warning....again. It is pretty catchy. It has two seperate parts. In the second part, the bassist, Mike Dirnt, sings. This song isn't great but it is certainly not as bad as half of the other shit on the album.

The closure is "See The Light". This is another unmemorable song. Bad choice as a closure. I personally would've chosen "Last Night On Earth" as the closure. The song closes and opens with the first riff of the title song, so They tried to make a story book ending. That was kind of cool. Not cool enough though!

I can't express in words how dissapointed I was with this album. I hated American Idiot, and this is a step further down. Billie Joe has just become another slave of the music industry. There is not much good to say about this album. I firmly believe that good Green Day is gone and not coming back. Another really awful thing about this album are Billie's vocals. They are absolutly awful. They sound slurred throughout the whole entire album. This is one of the most over produced albums I have ever listened to. Half of these songs would be okay if they weren't compressed to all hell. It really sucks to see bands transform like this. From the eyeliner to this. They are just falling down the drain rapidly in my eyes.

Highlights : Christian's Inferno, Last Night On Earth, Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)

Music : 3.5 (Godammit GREEN DAY!)
Lyrics : 3 (Trying to be smart, but failing. Same as American Idiot)
Artwork : 6 (Actually pretty cool)

Overall : 3.5

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Real Ghosts Caught On Tape - Fake Problems (Review)

Fake Problems have created quite the name for themselves. They are respected for there creativity in the majority of their songs. Their new album, "Real Ghosts Caught On Tape", is a step away from their other more expiremental music. This album lives up to most of the anticipation, but in a way that wasn't expected from me. This album marks a tremendous step forward in maturity. Most of all the humor that was on previous albums is gone.This creates a whole new vibe in Fake Problem's music.

The first song is "ADT". The chorus in this song is very catchy. It's lyrics are quite memorable, so this makes for a good sing along song. The main guitar riff is also one of the most memorable riffs on the entire album. This was probably an obvious choice for an opener because it sets up the album quite perfectly.

After that comes "5678" You would think this would have something to do with It's Great To Be Alive's "1234", but it has nothing to do with it lyrically or musicly. This is the one song that seems to drift from the constant sound of the rest of the album. That is neither a bad thing or a good thing It just doesn't sound like the rest of the album, which makes it stand out a bit. This is another very catchy tune. I had this song stuck in my head for a while.

Next is "Songs For Teenagers". This is a slightly softer track than the rest of the album. It has some pretty cool percussion in parts of it. This song focuses less on the on the catchy aspect of the past two songs, and it focuses more on the songwriting aspect. It succeeds as a great song. This song enforces my thought on maturity. Although you can still hear some aspects of the band's previous albums, this song has moved so much further than that.

"RSVP" starts a run of six or seven songs of the same feel. They are all fun songs with many hooks. This song consists of a simple Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus structure. The bridge is very nice. It is a bit short but  adds a the best twenty seconds of the song. And that leads back into the chorus. This is a simple, but very nice song.

"Soulless" is the most well known track on the album, and is most likely the most known song by the band. This was an excellent choice for a single. Down the road, this is what Fake Problems will probably be remembered by. It almost sounds like motown meets punk rock. It is not often you hear girl back-up vocals in a punk band. I thought this was very cool.

The song "Complain Dept." carries the same theme and overall sound as the rest of the album. It is a great track, which all of them are, but there really is nothing to say different about it than all the rest of the songs on the album. I will say it again, and probably many more times. It is a catchy, straight-forward indie/punk song.

The next song is "Done With Fun". This one stands out from the rest of them. Although it is the same style of music as the rest of the album, it seems that the verses put a lot more emphasis on a sound that almost seems like it is aimed at being a somewhat tropical theme. It has sort of a vacation style vibe. The lead guitar is what makes it seems "tropical". They are driving throughout the whole song and really seem to stand out in the song.

"The Magazines" seems to have a slightly slower and more sad feel to it. From what I get out of it, it is about the narrator (Chris Farren) becoming slightly well-known and rising to become a small "rockstar". He seems a tad dissapointed with it. It seems he is discontent and unsure about how people seem to know so much about him, yet he doesn't know a thing about them. I always seem to listen to "Magazines" whenever I listen to "Done With Fun" and vise versa for some reason. I always picture these two together as one song.

The song after that is "White Lies". "White Lies" has a very unfamiliar sound. It seems to slightly drift from the rest of the album, while maintaining the happy up-beat feel. The main lead guitar riff in this song is fantastic. It always manages to get stuck in my head. Casey Lee always manages to break out some cool lead guitar parts.

"Grand Finale" is one of the greatest songs Fake Problems have ever released. It is epic from start to finish. I can easily say this is the best on the record, and most likely their best overall. The first half of the song is a driving rock song. About half way through the song, it falls into a breakdown. The breakdown is a build that leads to tremendous heights. The build takes up about the whole second half of this five minute song, until it rips back into the rockin' chorus. The lyrics are extremely well writen, as well as the music itself.

"Ghost To Coast" takes it down a notch for the closure. Very soft and slow song. It is almost depressing, in a good way though (if that makes any sense). The is the biggest piece of evidence showing maturity yet. It seems wierd that the same band that wrote "Born and Raised" (which I love), wrote this (which I also love). This is such a massive step forward for them. I am not so sure as this song's inclusion, though. Although this song is great, I strongly believe "Grand Finale" would have worked a lot better as the closing track. I understand where they are coming from chosing this, I just think "Grand Finale" is a better choice.

Although this album is fantastic, it is not what I hoped for Fake Problems. I understand maturity is good, but I also understand that half of Fake Problems' charm was their humor. I am really in between whether I feel the maturity is what I wanted, or if the humor is what I wanted. I guess I am on both sides. I can see both arguements. One thing I noticed about this album is that the drum's seem soulless (Pun intended). It seems as if the drummer is just drumming as a job. I cannot feel the heart in the drums on this record at all. Another thing I must note is that the lead guitar is what keeps this album alive for the most part. Although this album may seem a tad repetitive, I see it as they are repeating something fantastic. All issues aside, I believe this is a very strong album front to back.

Highlights : Soulless, Done With Fun, Grand Finale

Music : 7.5 (Good enough!)
Lyrics : 6 (Meh, not the highlight for the most part, but not bad)
Artwork : 8.5 (Fits the "tropical" or "summer" theme PERFECTLY)

Overall : 7.5

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