As a 17 year old kid living in the San Francisco Bay Area I was spoiled. I lived in an area that would spawn some of the bands that were bringing punk rock back to the masses in a big way. Bands like Social Distortion, Agent Orange, Lagwagon, Face To Face, Swingin Utters, Rancid, and Pennywise were changing the way people thought about punk music. I was fortunate to see this first hand in venues like the Gilman, Berkeley Square, Warm Water Cove, and various house parties.
Green Day were also one of those bands that helped shape the sound that would later become pop punk and pave the way for bands like Blink 182, The Offspring, and others to create a sound that would connect the masses.
I am one of those fortunate few who got to see Green Day grow from a small time punk band to what they are today. So when they release a new album I look at it from a perspective of what they have done in that time.
It has been difficult to see a band that spent the better part of the 90’s selling us on the idea that punk music was about the social discourse. That punk music was about the angst we feel inside and how to connect each other through music. I think that message has been skewed ever since Green Day demanded their masters back from the label that helped launch their career, Lookout Records, which sent the label into bankruptcy and ultimately forced the label to shutdown.
Since then we have seen a steady rise in the merchandise and mainstream appeal to Green Day through things like the Green Day Rock Band video game, countless trinkets, and t-shirts with the band in every conceivable bright color that inevitably leads to an epileptic seizure. If you’re going to label yourself as a punk band that speaks to the disenfranchised it’s a tough sell when you’re on everything from a button to the opening of a Simpsons movie.
That being said I guess I should talk a little about the album that has spawned this review, “Uno!” This is the first of three albums Green Day will be releasing in the coming months.
As I popped on my headphones and pressed play I was struck by the guitar that hits you right away in “Nuclear Family.” You can almost envision Billy Joe Armstrong strumming his guitar in his infamous headbob as the 4 chord riff rips through like a good pop punk song should. It’s easy, it’s simple, and it’s what Green Day has built an entire career around. Ok, nothing new. Next!
The next track, “Stay the Night” is also a very classic Green Day track. Good hooks, chorus, and lyrics make this an easy song to get addicted to. Not a prolific track but something that’s well structured and even paced.
I don’t know that you want to read me go through the entire playlist so maybe I’ll just layout a more summarized review of the rest of the tracks as I’ve already exhausted a lot of white space talking about how disappointed I am with the sellout of the band. I would hate to keep boring you with twelve paragraphs dedicated to the overly wordy autopsy of each track.
Most of the tracks on the album are what Green Day has always been good at. It’s their sound. Nowhere is this more apparent than “Let Yourself Go” which is pop punk at its best. I can easily see a mosh pit spawned as a result of this track and lots of fist pumping. It’s an adrenaline fueled ride with lots of yelling and fast paced guitar riffs that will leave your ears ringing. In a good way of course.
“Kill the DJ” is one track I just couldn’t understand. It doesn’t make much sense. It’s like Billy Joe walked through a park one day, heard some horrible music, and decided to write a shit song about it. The song is poorly constructed and just doesn’t fit the rest of the album.
Bottom line: Overall the rest of the album is a good mix of songs that fit Green Day’s style and some that are just on the cusp of what they do well. It’s an album that will have mass appeal, which is good for a band that has spent the better part of two decades trying to find new and inventive ways to sell out.
Categories: Album Reviews