Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown [Audio CD]

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown [Audio CD]

American Idiot was a rarity of the 21st century: a bona fide four-quadrant hit, earning critical and commercial respect, roping in new fans young and old alike. It was so big it turned Green Day into something it had never been before -- respected, serious rockers, something they were never considered during their first flight of success with Dookie. Back then, they were clearly (and proudly) slacker rebels with a natural gift for a pop hook, but American Idiot was a big album with big ideas, a political rock opera in an era devoid of both protest rock and wild ambition, so its success was a surprise. It also ratcheted up high expectations for its successor, and Green Day consciously plays toward those expectations on 2009's 21st Century Breakdown, another political rock opera that isn't an explicit sequel but could easily be mistaken for one, especially as its narrative follows a young couple through the wilderness of modern urban America. Heady stuff, but like the best rock operas, the concept doesn't get in the way of the music, which is a bit of an accomplishment because 21st Century Breakdown leaves behind the punchy '60s Who fascination for Queen and '70s Who, giving this more than its share of pomp and circumstance. Then again, puffed-up protest is kind of the point of 21st Century Breakdown: it's meant to be taken seriously, so it's not entirely surprising that Green Day fall into many of the same pompous tarpits as their heroes, ratcheting up the stately pianos, vocal harmonies, repeated musical motifs, doubled and tripled guitars, and synthesized effects that substitute for strings, then adding some orchestras for good measure. It would all sound cluttered, even turgid, if it weren't for Green Day's unerring knack for writing muscular pop and natural inclination to run clean and lean, letting only one song run over five minutes and never letting the arrangements overshadow the song. Although Green Day's other natural gift, that for impish irreverent humor, is missed -- they left it all behind on their 2008 garage rock side project Foxboro Hot Tubs -- the band manages to have 21st Century Breakdown work on a grand scale without losing either their punk or pop roots, which makes the album not only a sequel to American Idiot, but its equal. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide « less… more »

  • Shenanigans is the companion piece to 2001's International Superhits. Where that compilation collected Green Day's singles, this rounds up the B-sides and such ephemera as soundtrack compilations, gathering the best (plus the new ... Shenanigans is the companion piece to 2001's International Superhits. Where that compilation collected Green Day's singles, this rounds up the B-sides and such ephemera as soundtrack compilations, gathering the best (plus the new "Ha Ha You're Dead") for a 14-track trek through the band's alternate history. Now, any serious rock listener knows that B-sides don't necessarily mean subpar material, and such '90s bands as Oasis and Suede have had B-sides every bit as good as the material that made the official albums, and their subsequent B-sides albums have been gems in their discographies. This is largely because both bands had prime periods where everything they did pretty much turned to gold. Green Day never quite had an equivalent prime period. After they made their mark with Dookie, they maintained a high level of quality, constantly expanding their vision and refining their craft with each album, but they never had a time where they burned so brightly they couldn't fit all the great songs onto the proper albums and had to spill 'em out over the B-sides. Green Day knew what their best songs were, and apart from "J.A.R.," which they threw out to the Angus soundtrack, they kept 'em on the albums, and they turned out material for B-sides largely because they had to; that was the game in the '90s -- you had to make sure the multi-part singles in the U.K. had unique material, and if a soundtrack came calling, you had to ante up. So, the songs that comprise Shenanigans are an appealing mixed bag since they were, by and large, songs Green Day finished because they had to. Since they're an excellent, restless band, there's variety here -- bits of surf rock, classic British Invasion, classic British punk, and singalong pop -- nothing is less than enjoyable, and some of it is quite good. But it's never terrific, revelatory, or amazing, giving the dedicated fans songs they just can't live without (to reduce it to the Oasis/Suede terms, no "Acquiesce," no "My Insatiable One"). It's fun, to be sure, especially for the fans who are the compilation's target audience, but everything here sounds like the classic definition of B-sides -- good and familiar, but not as good as what made the album. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide « less… more »

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  • Following the cool reception to Insomniac, Green Day retreated from the spotlight for a year to rest and spend time with their families. During that extended break, they decided to not worry about their supposedly lost street cred... Following the cool reception to Insomniac, Green Day retreated from the spotlight for a year to rest and spend time with their families. During that extended break, they decided to not worry about their supposedly lost street credibility and make an album according to their instincts, which meant more experimentation and less of their trademark punk-pop. Of course, speedy, catchy punk is at the core of the group's sound, so there are plenty of familiar moments on the resultant album, Nimrod, but there are also new details that make the record an invigorating, if occasionally frustrating, listen. Although punk-pop is Green Day's forte, they sound the most alive on Nimrod when they're breaking away from their formula, whether it's the shuffling "Hitchin' a Ride," the bitchy, tongue-in-cheek humor of "The Grouch," the surging surf instrumental "Last Ride In," the punchy, horn-driven drag-queen saga "King for a Day," or the acoustic, string-laced ballad "Good Riddance." It's only when the trio confines itself to three chords that it sounds tired, but Billie Joe has such a gift for hooky, instantly memorable melodies that even these moments are enjoyable, if unremarkable. Still, Nimrod suffers from being simply too much -- although it clocks in at under 50 minutes, the 18 tracks whip by at such a breakneck speed that it leaves you somewhat dazed. With a little editing, Green Day's growth would have been put in sharper relief, and Nimrod would have been the triumphant leap forward it set out to be. As it stands, it's a muddled but intermittently exciting record that is full of promise. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide « less… more »

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  • Green Day's second full album was the perfect dry run for the band's later assault on the mainstream, containing both more variety and more flat-out smashes than previous releases had shown. With Tre Cool now firmly in place as th... Green Day's second full album was the perfect dry run for the band's later assault on the mainstream, containing both more variety and more flat-out smashes than previous releases had shown. With Tre Cool now firmly in place as the drummer, the lineup was at last settled, and it turned out Cool and Mike Dirnt were a perfect rhythm section, with the former showing a bit more flash and ability than John Kiftmeyer did. Together the two throw in a variety of guitarless breaks that would later help to define the band's sound for many -- warm and never letting the beat go. As for Billie Joe Armstrong, his puppy-dog delivery and eternal switching between snotty humor and sudden sorrrow was better than ever, as were his instantly memorable riffs. The metal-strength chug that always informed the band's best work isn't absent either -- check out Armstrong's opening riffing on "Christie Road." The whole thing starts with a note-perfect bang -- "2000 Light Years Away" is the absolute highlight of the group's premajor-label days, with a great chorus and classic yearning lyrics. It got buried in the wave of Dookie's success a bit, but one other number didn't -- "Welcome to Paradise," also a standout on that album, appears here in its original form. Rob Cavallo punched up the radio-friendly sound on the latter take, but even here it's a treat and a half -- quick, rampaging, and once again with a great stop-start chorus to spare. Other straight-up pop winners include "One of My Lies" and "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?." Elsewhere, Green Day slow down tempos, try acoustic numbers, and in one hilarious moment, pull off a ridiculous yet worthy country pisstake with the Cool-written "Dominated Love Slave." [CD versions included the Sweet Children EP as a slightly surprising bonus.] ~ Ned Raggett, All Music Guide « less… more »

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  • Bullet in a Bible is a CD/DVD package (also available as a UMD, for those who want to carry it around on a Sony PSP) documenting Green Day's show at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes on their 2005 U.K. tour. The DVD intercuts int... Bullet in a Bible is a CD/DVD package (also available as a UMD, for those who want to carry it around on a Sony PSP) documenting Green Day's show at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes on their 2005 U.K. tour. The DVD intercuts interview footage with individual members of the trio between the songs on the set, while the CD provides an hourlong distillation of the show. Both the CD and DVD manage to be big, splashy productions -- after all, the DVD is produced to take full advantage of a home theater system, while the CD has a bright, clean kick to its mix -- that still retain a palpable sense of excitement and grit. This isn't the wild, reckless Green Day of the early and mid-'90s -- this is Green Day the arena punk pros, who know how to fill a stadium while still sounding as if they're playing in a packed little club. None of their '90s punk-pop peers have such a large following or can command such large, adoring crowds, and Bullet in a Bible makes it clear why: no other band in 2005 can play to the mainstream while still seeming nervy and vital. In other words, nobody does it better than Green Day, and this live package is a testimonial to the band at its peak. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide « less… more »

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