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Everyone knows that Green Day is one of the great rock bands of the world. They always seem to find a way to reinvent themselves, to give something new to their fans, and to please even themselves with their new material. Never have they shown that more than with their newest album, 21st Century Breakdown. They leave behind their days of grunge rock and calmly transition into a powerful new sound found in songs like the title track "21st Century Breakdown" and "Know Your Enemy". They have the same attitude where they feel they can do whatever they want. That is likely why they have been able to keep as well as gain so many fans as the years have gone by. If you're a real Green Day fan, you'll certainly buy this record. Many may say that Green Day has "sold out", but I beg to disagree. The years and fashion may change, but Green Day's attitude has not. If anything, they've become more carefree because they have half the world listening to them. As a true fan of Green Day, I am honestly excited of where this band is headed in the next few years. The possibilities are endless, and it's just the beginning of the 21st century.
Hard to believe that American Punk rockers Green Day have been stimulating our senses for over 23 years now. The still youthful and energetic threesome has gone from Basket Cases to a more laudable refined and ambitious approach to their music. Ever versant, enigmatic front man Billie Joe Armstrong has lead the angst fuelled rockers from mediocrity to super stardom, developing there sound and approach to music in the process. Drummer Tré Cool, and bass guitarist Mike Dirnt make up the three amigos, a threesome that have been together from the get go.
Billie Joe Armstrong - guitar, piano, lead vocals
Tré Cool - drums, percussion
Mike Dirnt - bass guitar, backing vocals
Jason Freese - piano
Tom Kitt - string arrangements
Patrick Warren - string conducting
Green Day's breakthrough came in 1994 with the album 'Dookie' such a success it eventually sold over 10 million copies in the US alone. Their popularity brought punk rock back to the mainstream masses and established themselves as front-runners in the music business. Further success was around the corner, four albums later 2004 gave us 'American Idiot' which hit the headlines running. The monumental success of American Idiot put Green Day back into mainstream headlights once more, after a brief trek into the wilderness of East Bay, California. Their 2004 album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, a first for Green Day. In 2005 they were awarded a Grammy for best rock album and won seven awards, from eight nominations at the MTV music awards. Where American Idiot and their latest album 21st Century Breakdown differ is the style of the album, both themed around a particular concept, often controversial and perhaps Anti-American, which split critical loyalties. American Idiot became known as a punk-rock opera following a journey of the fictitious Jesus of Suburbia. May 2009 brought us Green Day's eighth studio album 21ST CENTURY BREAKDOWN ...
ALBUM - 21ST CENTURY BREAKDOWN'
Rock opera styled '21st Century Breakdown' is divided into three acts, "Heroes and Cons", "Charlatans and Saints", and "Horseshoes and Hand grenades and lasting almost 70 minutes in running time. Following in it's predecessor American Idiot's footsteps its styled around a particular concept. The theme is based around two lovers, Christian and Gloria, and their battle against government and authority in this day and age. The concept is not always clear but the message of religion, war, spilled blood, media and anger at society is most apparent. The story is evoked through these two young lovers eyes, but you also get the impression it's loosely based on Billie Joe's own experiences and anger at society and politically motivated state of the world we/he lives in.
Commercially to date 21st Century Breakdown is Green Day's most successful album, topping album charts all over the world, including the US and UK markets, and regaining the coveted Best Rock alum at the Grammy's 2010.
Critical acclaim was largely favourable Rolling Stone's David Fricke called 21st Century Breakdown "a compound bomb of classic-rock ecstasy, no-mercy punk assault and pop-song wiles; it's like The Clash's London Calling, The Who's Quadrophenia and Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade all compressed into 18 songs". It's doubters classing it as "griping vaguely against 'authority'" and that "too many buzz words obscure incisive meaning".
1 SONG OF THE CENTURY (0.57)
Singing acapella, with an anti-war message, some bizarre lyrics...
ACT I: HEROES AND CONS
We're introduced to Christian, a welfare working class child, that the system has failed, his apathy for the Nixon regime is evident. This is in sense Billy Joe raised as a youth in on hard times. Born in the era of humility / We are the desperate in the decline / Raised by the bastards. BREAKDOWN (5.09) Awesome theatrical bashed piano Intro, that's lingering and simple, rising the atmosphere steadily, to be joined by rolling drums that slowly gather momentum, until violently a crescendo of sound as the riffs kick in adjacent to Billie Joe's blaring tones. The quiet to loud dynamics add ever verb, to this rock infused opener, until we veer of to a calming slowed down finish. Ever so catchy opener, with plenty of mainstream appeal, a great way to get us kicking off!
Self-explanatory title, expressing the desire for revolution, KNOW YOUR ENEMY (3.11) Overthrow the effigy / The vast majority / We're burning down the foreman of control Thumping simple drum line, overshadowing the backing guitar riffs, as we explode into sound again, slightly repetitive lyrically, it's upbeat, fast and of a violent nature, you fear the passion, energy and anger in his pounding tones. Quiet, slow dynamics working again here in parts, simple but effective slightly pop punk based giving measure to the mainstream masses once more, finishes to a sudden halt!
We are introduced to girlfriend Gloria, fallen through the tracks, on hard times and disillusioned VIVA LA GLORIA (3.31) Don't lose you faith to your lost naiveté / Weather the storm and don't look back on last November / When your banners were burning down Delicate twinkling of the Piano, a ballad-esque intro, joined with subtle tones and backing violins, it's heartfelt and emotive until after a minute, crash, crash, crash of the symbols, drums are pounding, Billie Joe's tones are bursting and feverish to the pounding accompaniment of some awesome throbbing guitar rock, the track drives forward from here, the chorus line is notable engaging as his voice goes up an octave. Seems to be the theme of the album thus far, soft gentle intro's that build, and build to you can build no more.
Dreaming of better times and tales of dissatisfaction BEFORE THE LOBOTOMY (4.37) Laughter, there's no more laughter / Songs of yesterday now live in the underground Gorgeous melodramatic ballad intro with yearning tones, which peels into a crescendo of noise, booming beastly riffs quite overpowering in fact until Billie Joe inter plays with it, mixed up punk and classic rock is a little heavy on the heart, it's okay but nothing definitive or ground breaking, simple rolling drums and bass but I'm feeling slightly dissatisfied after an emotional enterprising intro. The heartfelt singing returns to take the track out, but it's still to the disgruntled over fever some rock.
Apathy in this represents the worlds destruction, and the need for change, CHRISTIAN'S INFERNO (3.07) I'm the atom bomb /I'm the chosen one / Toxin your reservoir / and then return man to ape High-octane, thrashing start, industrious and aggressive, this stampede of sound it dark and relentless. Sounds like early Green Day, but lacks any drive for me, not at all distinctive, yeah fair enough it's catchy and hardcore punky rock fans would be satisfied with this, but the mix and music seems limited, one to miss. '
LAST NIGHT ON EARTH (3.57) My beating heart belongs to you / I walked for miles til I found you / I'm here to honour you Evocative piano laden intro, that's soothing and emotional. Tempo's and rhythm are smooth and consistent throughout, this power ballad has been likened to ELO a 70s type ballad, but I actually think it's very Beatles like in it's sound, and simplicity. Rolling drums and restricted passive bass accompany dreamy Lennon sounding vocals, which really engages and carries the song forward. Perfectly finishes of act one, a definite highlight!
ACT II: CHARLATANS AND SAINTS
Charlatans and Saints we follow Christian and Gloria through tragic scenes, Christian's Inferno and Last Night on Earth, and the Iraqi War In Peacemaker. Tackling the emptiness and hypocrisy of Christianity and Religion everywhere and the effects it has on war and suicide, EAST JESUS NOWHERE (4.35) _Of blasphemy and genocide / The sirens of decay / Will infiltrate the faith fanatics_ Very similar sounding to earlier hit 'Welcome to Paradise' Kicks in with a spiky guitar riff that strives to something spectacular angular and raw, almost like hearing a motorbike misfiring over and over, layered guitars, changeups and rolling drums, the structure of sound is clever, but ultimately it's the angular edge riff that gives it an extra kick, and memorable.
Referring to war, Iraq, Gaza, jihad and stand off of Molotov cocktails PEACEMAKER (3.24) This Beretta of the night / This fire and the desire / Shots ringing out on a holy parasite Opens up to a folk, punk feel it's reticent of The Levellers in it's catchy melodic almost Irish Jig feel, simple rolling drums are met with a mandolin sounding guitar, it's fast theme gives the impression of a chase, as the rhythm is relentless and fixated. An unusual addition to the album, as it's unlike any other sound, works for me.
Keeping with the theme LAST OF THE AMERICAN GIRLS (3.51) She will come in first for the end of western civilization / She's and endless war, she's a hero for the lost cause / Like a hurricane in the heart of devastation is about Gloria, however it's written about Billie Joe's wife Adrienne, who he claims is steadfast in her beliefs and assertively defends them. Simple easy bass line kicks us of, steady and controlling to calming tones from Billie Joe, sudden beat on the drum kicks us forward as the sound levels rise, but the beats stay controlled, we speed up slightly as the chorus is matched with harmonies unlike the Beach Boys. It's methodical, but not at all inspiring, album filler.
Punk / Alternative rock MURDER CITY (2.54) I'm wide awake after the riot / This demonstration of our anguish / This empty laughter has no reason is heavy, desperate and repetitive! Hardcore Green Day sound, violent and raucous with plenty of sound changeups! Simple fast rolling drum intro, until the violent riffs kick into action, matched by the tempered violent tones of desperation from Billie Joe, it's relentless speed and passion is obvious, a real stadium moving track! Screeching from the bottom of his stomach adds impetus to this vicious attack on the government. Gives the album a lift with some much needed energy.
Spanish flavoured Piano intro that sounds like a mandolin flickering wildly ¿VIVA LA GLORIA? (Little Girl) (3.48) The traces of blood always follow you home like the mascara tears from your getaway / You're walking with blisters and running with shears, So unholy / Sister of grace! saunters along, all dramatic and operatic like. Another folk theme styled charmer, comedic in value, a real assault of drama, reticent of 'Levellers', or 'The Decemberists' this Piano led assault charge is most charming, a funky little number with plenty of appeal, that really mixes Act II up nicely.
Once more we open with gentle piano chords, to a yearning Billie Joe, it's quiet and heartfelt, a controlling drum line and back seated riff, accompany the engaging sound. Stripped back ballad, RESTLESS HEART SYNDROME (4.21) I've got a really bad disease / It's got me begging on my hands and knees is one of my favourites, it's endearing that works fantastically as an acoustic sound, the song has moments that endanger the song of becoming too loud and dramatic, but stays truthful to the theme throughout.
ACT III: HORSESHOES AND HANDGRENADES
Horseshoes and Handgrenades is about self destruction, in the chaos they are living in, the bad times of Static Age and American Eulogy living in mass panic and hysteria, but beaten and bruised they come out the other side in see the light bent on revenge. HORSESHOES AND HANDGRENADES (3.14) Demolition, self-destruction / What to annihilate, the age-old contradiction Marching stomp intro as the banging fever some beat on the drums build, to an echoing riff, many changeups with the use of synthesizers. It's punk rock feel, that reaches it peak at the chorus, with some near screeching tones, the simple riffs are pretty enthusiastic, but the overall sound lacks inspiration or anything memorable.
THE STATIC AGE (4.17) Cater to the class and the paranoid, music / to my nervous system / Advertising love and religion, murder on the airwaves / Slogans on the brink of corruption Banging drums kick in, quite feverish, with an echoing guitar chord, it's lively a good mix up and arrangement. Chorus sees more changeups as the riffs take over from the prominent drums. It's not the best sound, lacking in any inspiration, quite boring in all fairness.
21 GUNS (5.21) Do you know what's worth fighting for? / When it's not worth dying for? / Does it take your breath away and you feel yourself suffocating? Eerie Synthesized intro to a gentle acoustic like approach, before interacting with slow strumming giving this an evocative start to this power ballad, a power changeup but it's still heartfelt and quite stunning, the chorus is a little disappointing as the tracks changes face, a lot of riff repetition coupled with triple guitars, good effort, but feel let down by the urge for the tried and testing surge towards the end.
AMERICAN EULOGY (A. "Mass Hysteria" / B. "Modern World") (4.26) The class war is hanging on a wire because the martyr is a compulsive liar / When he said "it's just a bunch of niggers throwing gas into the...." Part A: Mass Hysteria, is punk rock, fast thrashing repetitive riffs with many changeups, triple guitars with plenty of energy, catchy chorus line. It's certainly a toe taper, or head banger...before we break into Part B: Modern World, the shift is slight, slowed down a little to repetitive chorus lines, feels folksy based but overlapped with thrashed guitar, it mixes okay, and actually in parts sounds quite positive, which is a rarity.
SEE THE LIGHT (4.36) But it's gone forever, but never too late / Where the ever after is in the hands of fate Booming rolling drums, echoed by some thrashed mono chord guitars, the riffs are engaging if not repetitive, but it's a lively near happy sound, triumphant like in it's staccato styled strums, gives you a feeling the story is at it's end and they are coming through the dark times. Excellent ending, as it gives you a feeling of closure of sorts.
21st Century Breakdown is an album focusing on the negativity in the world we live in, Green Day seem to share delight in screaming their ideals to the listener, preaching to us about the horrific state the world is in, in part maybe true, but their dark, bleak unequivocal outlook is blunt and ugly, and rather than aspiring to find solutions, and to look at the positives, they seem to revel in displeasure, maybe that's too harsh, perhaps it's down to the genre of music they represent, who knows, but often the message they portray is misguided and hard to understand, but your able to guise the gist.
Predecessor American Idiot was an attack on the former American government, and maybe understandably so, but where do the loyalties of 21st Century Breakdown lie, well I guess it's in the title. Seventeen tracks of anger are dispatched, apathy about the state of the wreckage we live in, religion and war been the two main protagonists.
Are the lyrics believable, can you relate to them? Well I suppose the musical audience targeted can, the youth of society at present have a bleak outlook, and not much positive notions around the world as we know it. I believe Green Day's message is to be taken seriously, and it's a musician's way of protest, but it could also be looked at as a form of inspiration, and something to aspire to, to improve the situation we strive to better. Is it eloquent in approach, not really it's crass and muddy, perhaps they should stick to what they do best, the music.
The sound is distinctively Green Day, pretty similar to American Idiot, in fact some of the songs are similar to early albums such as 'Dookie', so has their sound enhanced and matured? Well I guess a little, we have moved on from pop punk, to a alternative punk / punk rock sound, but we are still feeling the riff rock repetition, and larger than life chords and whizzing treble guitars.. However we are introduced to stately pianos, orchestra's, vocal harmonies, and synthesized effects as change ups.
Musically you could compare 21st century breakdown to Meatloaf operatic efforts, the creativity has to be lauded but does it work? Can a political rock opera work? Well I'm not entirely sure, as a theme I don't think it does, I find it hard to carry the message throughout the album, but in terms of individual music songs, then it passes with flying colours, there are so many highlights such as 'Restless Heart Syndrome', 'Last night on Earth' but equally a few blander tracks such as 'Christian's Inferno'.
Overall I'm in favour it's flashy, electric, with energetic riffs and changeups, the arrangements at times overshadow the songs, but the use of an Orchestra and especially the piano, really moves this up a level in terms of development. The whizzing triple guitars are a personal highlight. The theme to most songs are generally the same, a slow meaningful start that builds, and builds, before slowing for the finale, a theme I like and one that suits Green Day's sound.
Overall I'm impressed, and I think it could appeal to many cultures, there is enough mainstream sounds to increase the audience, but equally enough for die hard, post punk, rock fans. It's an educational trip, a journey worth taking, As an album it matches American Idiot stride for stride, maybe a little more cultured, but there is not much to separate them. As individual tracks, do they stand alone? Well I'm not so sure, nothing really groundbreaking or memorable, but they sure do kick a punch! If you like American Idiot, then you will not be disappointed. I recommend a listen!
Amazon price £4.99 ( Some explicit lyrics )
I'm writing this review as a fan of the more Mainstream "heavier" Green Day as opposed to those from those who like the older stuff.
Having listened to a lot of Green Day, I thought American Idiot was really something different. It was a brilliant rock opera with a plot concerning the life of Jesus of Suburbia and his life in the streets. When I heard 21st Century Breakdown was on its way, I had thought there would be something similar. And I wasn't disappointed.
21st Century Breakdown is quite similar to AI in that it tells a story (although not quite as obvious as AI), of Christian and Gloria. It falters a bit in comparison too with its textbook 3-minute long songs, which are fine in itself, that is to say.
21CB mixes in contemporary Green Day sounds, taken seemingly straight out of the same mind of American Idiot (and bringing me back to 2005, when I was an angsty teenager. Well, without all the angst), while mixing in the style of their previous albums. The song Viva La Gloria, one of my favourites on the album begins slowly and touchingly with wonderful piano playing by band headman Billy Joe Armstrong for a minute or so before crashing and becoming an anthem for those lost in a very American Idiot way.
In fact, the word "anthem" seems to work very well when it comes to the songs on the album. The two singles Know Your Enemy and 21 Guns have both very rhythmical and repetitive chords, staying in your head much longer after having heard them.
All in all, if you liked American Idiot you'll like this album (if not as much), and if you haven't heard anything by Green Day, you'll enjoy it as a pretty unique album with catchy songs and pounding beats.
I have to start by saying I adore Green Day. They have been the soundtrack to mamny important aspects of my life for the last 16 years.
After the huge success of American Idiot, there was always going to bbe a lot of pressure on them for this album. On hearing the first single released "Know your enemy" I was a bit concerned, its repetative and not their best, though it has grown on me.
I bought the album anyway and was pleasantly surprised. The album is similar to American Idiot in that all the songs are linked and tell a story, in this case we follow the lives of Christian and the 'American Girl' Gloria. Its arranged into three acts ""Heroes and Cons", "Charlatans and Saints" and "Horseshoes and Handgrenades".
The best songs are probably "Viva la Gloria/Little Girl" and "Peacemaker".
At times they remind me of the Ramones, especially in 'Modern World', and there are also many sly little references to older Green Day songs.
Full track listing:
Song Of The Century
21st Century Breakdown
Know Your Enemy
Viva La Gloria!
Before The Lobotomy
Last Night On Earth
East Jesus Nowhere
Last Of The American Girls
Viva La Gloria? [Little Girl]
Restless Heart Syndrome
Horseshoes And Handgrenades
The Static Age
American Eulogy: Mass Hysteria/Modern World
See The Light
After the fairly calamitous "American Idiot", Green Day had lost a fair amount of favour with me, and while I don't like the term "selling out", it felt as though their artistic integrity had gone down the pan, and eponymous single in particular I found rather irritating, and of course it betrays the sacred rule of "don't insult your audience". 21st Century Breakdown isn't really much better: a generic pop-rock album with a few moments of fizzle, but mostly it is quite bland.
Much like their last album, this is a rock-opera of sorts, divided into three portions, yet in trying to be more stratified it has also become more generic and rote. The first act is admittedly quite energetic and probably features the best songs, but the problem is that, at almost 70 minutes long, this is an album far too long to keep the band going at full-pelt, and so their effect is numbing long before the end rolls around.
What can I praise? Well, the eponynmous track is quite fun, and benefits from being early in the list while you haven't yet become bored of the album. However, there are also a few duds, probably the chief of which is 21 Guns, a song that defines the word "overplayed" with its extensive radio coverage, as well as featuring in the film Transformers 2. It's yet another mild and half-baked effort for Green Day to be political, and frankly, that isn't what I want because they don't have the nuance, wit or intellect to do it well in a way that meshes with the music.
I suppose more recent Green Day converts might settle for it, but as a long-time fan it shows that perhaps the band have become stagnant and are suffering a creative surfeit.
The proper follow on (disregarding the bands output as an alter ego) to American Idiot, Greenday quite succesfully attempt to consolidate their position at the head table of Rock Music with this, their latest effort - 21st Century Breakdown. With this album Greenday once again present a themed rock opera, mainly detailing the collapse as they it of America through the eyes of Christian, a fictional character who pops up throughout the album.
The songs themselves are similar to those of American Idiot, veering between bombast and reflection, sometimes in the same song. There are quite a few more ballads on this album that don't always hit the mark. The production is crisp and very commercial, which will probably further alienate the cult following of greendays earlier years when they released Kerplunk etc. You get the feeling though that these days, Greenday has moved on from their beginnings and have set their sights on becoming the biggest band in the world.
I would say there are not as many catchy songs as on some of their other albums, and Billie Joe's vocals sometimes get slightly lost in the mix but these are slight grumbles in what is a quality 21st Century Album.
After the raging success of "American Idiot" there was always going to be a lot of expectation in terms of the next Green Day album.
With 18 tracks and a running time of just over 69 minutes you certainly get value for money. I also like the idea of splitting the album into three "acts".
The album opens with the very short but punchy "Song Of The Century" before we move into Act I - "Heroes And Cons" and the title track itself. At just over 5 minutes it is pretty much what we've come to expect from GD.
Next up is "Know Your Enemy". The first single from the album. Although it failed to make the UK Top 20 it is another good quality thunderous track.
"Viva La Gloria" has a mellow opening which lasts about a minute before we return to the usual pop/punk style we are familiar with.
"Before The Lobotomy" follows a similar format but reminds me a little more of the type of track that appeared on the previous album.
"Christian's Inferno" is more poppy and perhaps a bit more radio friendly.
"Last Night On Earth" has a Beatles-esque feel to it. It is more mellow and is the kind of track they might play at a live show after performing a few of their more thrashy numbers.
Into Act II - "Charlatans And Saints" and the first song in this section is "East Jesus Nowhere". I like this one and think it would make a good single. Easily identifiable as a GD song it wouldn't have been out of place on "Dookie".
"Peacemaker" is another enjoyable poppy number with a hint of Irishness about it due to the introduction of some fiddling in the background.
"Last Of The American Girls" is a typical piece of Americana. It is pleasant enough with the usual political undertones in the lyrics.
"Murder City" is a more punky and thrashier track reflecting the lyrics once more.
"Viva La Gloria (Little Girl)" uses the piano to give a Vaudeville feel to the opening of what is yet another good song.
"Restless Heart Syndrome" contains more piano for what is as close to a ballad as you will get with GD until just before the 3 minute mark where the song explodes somewhat.
Act III - "Horseshoes And Handgrenades" opens with the rousing track of the same name. The "American Idiot" style riffs go hand in hand with the angry lyrics and swearing to make this the best track on the album in my opinion, this is GD at their best.
"The Static Age" is again uptempo but a little less angry although still with some swearing.
"21 Guns" was the second single from the album and although it was a relative commercial failure, peaking at number 36 in the UK Singles Chart, it is up there with "H&H" as one of the best tracks here. If you've not heard this before and liked "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" or "When September Ends" I think you'll like this one.
"American Eulogy" starts with a partial reprise of "Song Of The Century" before bursting into part one of the song called "Mass Hysteria". This is quite punky and evolves into the angry part two called "Modern World" before regressing to "Mass Hysteria" again at the end. I think this idea works well. I think the band do as well having split songs into multiple sections on the previous album.
The final track is "See The Light". Album closers are often weak and seen as an afterthought or filler but this is not bad and stands up ok against the other tracks.
This is a good album. Not quite as good as "American Idiot" but then again how many groups would have been capable of matching what was achieved with that album.
If you like this album then I would recommend you go back and purchase some of the back catalogue if you haven't already done so.
You may also like Blink 182, Sum 41 or Offspring if you like this kind of music and want to experiment more - alternatively if you have cable or satellite TV tune into the "Scuzz" music channel for more ideas.
Green Days new album has been long awaited by not just fans but the entire world. After the success of their 2004 album "American Idiot", Green Day have had a tough time creating a equally brilliant follow up, and this album does not dissapoint! Like American Idiot, this album is a mini rock opera following the story of the two characters Christian and Gloria. Each song has its own unique sound, whilst still being maximum Green Day (also taking inspiration from their side projects Foxboro Hot Tubs and The Network). Billie Joe armstrong has improved his vocals adding interesting shouts and techniques, whilst Mikes bass playing has some excellant riffs aswell as him adding some of his vocals. Tre Cools drumming is spot on and also better than previous albums. Look out for the songs 21 Guns, Viva la Gloria and East Jesus Nowhere to be hit singles in the coming months!.
Green Day have now been together for over 20 years, and in each album have brought a new sound, this album is no different but is still maximum Green Day as we know and love them!
It's hard to believe that it's been five years since American Idiot dominated the airwaves with single after single of pop-punk genius: it was impossible to avoid. Now Billie Joe Armstrong and his band (and make no mistake, it is his band) are back with a new record, and a huge amount of expectation.
Firstly, the good news: 21st Century Breakdown is an excellent record. As ever, Armstrong has come up with various examples of his astonishing ability to turn power chords into huge, affecting anthems: the album's title track carries over the ambition of Jesus of Suburbia into a hook filled chorus that encompasses everything that the Green Day in 2009 seem to stand for.
While most of the tracks can be classed as excellent songs, other highlights include 'Peacemaker', a semi-acoustic number that marries the swagger of Nimrod with the narrative of a terrorist, the epic sounding cry in the dark of 'Murder City', and the album closer 'See The Light'. Once again, Armstrong has shown himself to be a master songwriter, seemingly able to churn out hook after hook without catching a breath.
The only downside to the record is that, because of his immense talents, it seems even more of a shame when he provides a filler track: and there are a few of them on 21st Century Breakdown. 'Restless Heart Syndrome', a ballad that plods along at a slow pace, but without the charm of previous Armstrong compositions like 'Macy's Day Parade', does nothing for the album.
Similarly, 'Last Night on Earth' only seems to stop the momentum built by the first six tracks on the record. Armstrong is a master at writing a stadium size ballad (as 'Wake me up...' and 'Good Riddance' prove), but he needs to exercise restraint on including them. The record would be far superior if '21 Guns' - an excellent track, and a deserving candidate for a single - was the sole ballad.
Overall though, Green Day's songwriter has come up with another excellent collection of songs: but then, that's what his millions of fans have come to expect.
21st Century Breakdown is Green Day's 11th album and was released this year (2009), if you are a fan of the alternative/punk rock band who is also famous for songs such as American Idiot and Basket Case, you will probably be pleased with this album, as it is quite similar though still new and different when compared to their other albums.
You can buy 21st Century Breakdown in most good music stores for around £10 to £15 though if you searched online, also if you have a free Spotify account you can listen to it online for free.
The track listing for 21st Century Breakdown is as follows:
1.) Song Of The Century
2.) 21st Century Breakdown
3.) Know Your Enemy
4.) Viva La Gloria
5.) Before The Lobotomy
6.) Christian's Inferno
7.) Last Night On Earth
8.) East Jesus Nowhere
10.) Last Of The American Girls
11.) Murder City
12.) Viva La Gloria (Little Girl)
13.) Restless Heart Syndrome
14.) Horseshoes and Handgrenades
15.) The Static Age
16.) 21 Guns
17.) American Eulogy
18.) See The Light
As you can see there is a lot of tracks for your money on this album and suprisingly there arent any that are annoying or that I dislike, this is quite rare for me to find on an album and I have been constantly listening to it for the last few days and seem to like it more and more the more I hear it.
Know Your Enemy
This song was the first to be released as a single off this album, it is a song about knowing your enemy and is a very punky genre like song which is similar to me to American Idiot which was a very popular Greenday in 2004.
Last Of The American Girls
This is a quite upbeat song about an uncoroporative girl in society who is the last of the american girls, its another very punky feeling song, like many others on the album and is one of my favourites off the album.
This is my favourite song from Greenday to date, its such an upbeat and quirky song about how the world really isnt a very peaceful place and sort of mocks the world for how we act and how we believe that the way to gain peace is to create war. Its a great song and typical of your punk general Greenday song though abit more fun and sarcastic than their other songs on the album.
If you are a Greenday or punk genre music fan you will probably enjoy this album as much as I did, its my favourite of their albums so far and deserves 5 stars without a doubt, worth every penny spent.
***Also posted on ciao.uk under name lorrainek90***
21st CENTURY BREAKDOWN
Years ago when I was a lot younger than I now find myself, I discovered a band that made me excited made me feel music could be fun, id never really enjoyed music till this point.
That band was obviously Green Day, with their punky take on pop music I was hooked like musical heroin.
Well over the years this band grew up, as did I.
First album on the turn to the 90's,"1039 smoothed out slappy hours" was simple yet very effective punk pop which made me jump around like a loon.
They followed this with a punky master class taking hints from all the greats but blending in their own soft sloppy pop, and guess what, it really worked, following the success of this album Green Day were signed to a major label a big no-no to many fans but to me it meant more money to make great music.
They followed this with the awesome Dookie a bestseller wherever you went, topped the charts in various nations.
After this a lot of people thought they had disappeared though they released a few albums which never really hit the upper echelons of the charts.
Then came 2003's American Idiot, an album that took ideas from all over the spectrum, bit of rock opera check! Bit of punk check!
Almost too perfect it gained many album of the year awards etc!!
So this brings us up to date?!?
We start with singer Billie Joe basically singing acapello, this soon leads into a rock opera number, starting with just a couple of chords on the guitar soon joined by crashing drums and a big bass sound.
Billie Joe Armstrong sounds epic here, opening with a powerful, yet very tuneful display, halfway through the tune changes and we hear a different Green Day, more like an oi punk band, kind of angry sounding!
This is good, Green day are really mixing their influences and styles to suit everyone.
We soon enter ballad land and remember this is just one song, think Queen's Bohemian rhapsody that can be done by a punk band!!!!!
They quickly follow this with radio hit know your enemy, which is far from the best song on the album, but does inject5 a lot of energy, I can imagine jumping around like a loon, though im too old to do that lol!
Viva la Gloria is a beautiful ballad over violins etc, until the punky rock side joins the mess of music, and it joins in a gorgeous way almost snogging the violin players and don't ask what its doing with the cellists!
We have a few tracks like this nice, well played and recorded but not really worth reviewing they are all good but in the same way as the previous song.
The next track is catchy but Billie Joe insists on over using the megaphone effect, which is a big shame as chorus is catchy as swine flu.
Almost the best song on the album is the upon you "Last night on earth" is a beautiful ballad along the lines of when September ends and good riddance though tonnes better.
BJ shows he can really sing on this song.
What you find around this point is that the album may be slightly too long, some of the songs feel a bit like fillers, though fillers on an album like this would go nicely on most albums as main tracks.
Fast forward a few tracks and we have the real stand out song, I normally like rocky upbeat stuff, but the down beat non rocky 121 guns wins for me hands down, you have beautiful lyrics, vocals and music its almost perfect, not many songs would stand up to it!!
This Album is going to get a 4 outta 5 mainly cos it was slightly too long a couple of tracks could have been trimmed but a very nice effort
Fanks for reading ive been kyle coare, take care.
To all of the Green Day haters out there - and there seem to be a fair few - please, please give this album a listen at the very least. That being said, those of you who heard and subsequently disliked American Idiot probably won't like 21st Century Breakdown. As far as I'm concerned, however, the Oakland punk trio have created yet another work of art.
Split into 3 sections (or acts), "Heroes and Cons", "Charlatans and Saints" and "Horseshoes and Handgrenades". Half autobiography, half sermon and half battle cry (yes, this is one and a half albums), Armstrong has produced some of his most emotive and lyrically fantastic songs yet. For me Before The Lobotomy, iViva La Gloria!, American Eulogy, 21 Guns and of course the title track are the highlights, but there really is something for everyone (except maybe those who are only fans of old school Green Day, hence my warning at the beginning).
All-in-all, a classic from a punk rock band that have matured with age, a rare feat nowadays. 10/10.
Green Day are a band which at the moment, it is popular to hate, and this album will give more ammunition to those haters to throw at anyone willing to hear it...I happen to disagree.
Yet more of a maturity from American Idiot, they're a changed band but that doesn't mean it's any worse, if they were stiull singing songs about drugs and what not they wouldn't be so special and 35 year olds singing about it would be a bit old by now.
The album I think is brilliant, the opening is a introduction to the album which is great, a 1 minute interlude towards a great album, split into 3 sections, the 2nd of which is by far the best.
Eeast Jesus Nowhere is the best song to come out of the album along with Little Girl and Peacemaker, ballads such as See The Light and 21 Guns end the album with an optimistic tone.
Unfortunatly there are a few poor songs on the album (not bad for an album of 18), Horseshoes and Handgrenades is a rip off of the Hives and I can't take it seriously as a Green Day song, Know Your Enemy is poor, as is Christians Inferno.
I happen to love green day, old and new, and this album certainly deserves good stature within their discography, it has a hint of Warning about it...which happens to be one of my favourite Green Day albums.
Greenday is a long selling band with a number of good songs that only need a few chords and snappy lyrics to make thier songs amazing. With just a few more melodies and chords they have managed thier best album yet.
They have managed to pull it off again keeping a similar story telling feel like American Idiot. Green day have managed to bring the punk rock/pop songs that first brought them suscess to a new modern sound that still is unique to them.
21st Century Breakdown has a number of fast punk pop tracks as it does slow songs with almost perfect melodies. This album is also good for people who are just getting into the style of punk pop/rock music as it offers a more softer and mature sound but still delivers the "umph" of what the music is about.
In my opinion if one album will suprise you this summer then it would definatly be it.
You know what they say about buses? Wait for one and four come along at once. While I always knew that the same saying applied to women, I never realised that it was the same with albums too. For, while spending ages listening to older albums, even if it is of bands I have only recently began listening too, I suddenly discovered that in the space of a month, many bands which I really liked had released a new album, Maximo Park, The Horrors, The Rakes, The Decemberists and, of course, Green Day.
I had first started listening to Green Day around the time of "American Idiot", their last studio album, being released, and after that listened back to some of their older songs, becoming in an instantaneous fan. So, it was with some joy, that I saw they had a new album out, and heard samples of it on the TV ads, including their new song, "Know your Enemy".
So, it was added to the list of albums that I needed to get. And get it I did...
== Ze Album ==
'''Song of the Century'''
We tune in to this album, with the sounds of a radio being.. erm, tuned in. And a little acapella piece from Billie Joe, this minute long introduction to the album is actually pretty pointless, but doesn't sound shite, so no complaints. It's a nice little poem really.
'''21st Century Breakdown'''
Strum the guitar, add some reverb. Something possibly sounding like a piano. Add a steady drumbeat rising in volume, and a strange reverby sound, and finally burst everything together. The song kicks in, its an average mash of guitars and drums, it sounds great. The chorus has a sweet repeating tune to it, and it suddenly feels like Green Day were never away. If you want to start an album off well, then take tips from a song like this. Midway there is a little breakdown piece, the guitar sounding slightly Scottish... it then continues to this folly jig, and we have a very catchy tune. Then, right near the end, a little mini-solo, which sounds like it could be epic if played a little higher, and longer.
'''Know your Enemy'''
_Their first single from the album..._
The drums open this song and a guitar faintly enters from behind. Then the song throws itself in, which a typical Green Day sound. The guitar is hard to describe, it has a like duh-duh-duhhh-gap-duh-duh-duhhh-gap. Which is then sped up for the chorusy parts. It is definitely a great sound anyway. There is a nice little solo piece, which, again isn't groundbreaking, but has a really fresh feel to it. It is a perfect single, possessing all that is needed for mass-popularity. That being said, like many singles, it certainly isn't the highlight of the album.
'''¡Viva la Gloria!'''
A sweet piano tune plays, and Billie Joe gently sings over the top. Violins come in, and the song possesses a sweet classical feel, and then you think it is going to change, a small gap in the music, but no it comes back in piano again, but only for a second. Clash-clash-clash of the cymbals and it is like the song is reborn. The guitars heavy and fast flowing, the drums performing perfectly, the song has a true Californian punk feel to it, and the bass line, detectable underneath is sweet and pounding. There are echoes in the lyrics, slides on the guitar, this is a real Green Day track, and is one of the highlights on the album. It has a real longevity to it, sounds like it could have been done years ago, on one of their earlier albums, but also sounds completely fresh, as though it was played only yesterday.
'''Before the Lobotomy'''
Slow plucked guitars, and a gentle echo on his words, Billie Joe opens up softly, and it has a dream like feel to it. A gentle glimmer of feedback to the right suggests that maybe, there is something coming, some bang of the guitars, or crash of the drums... Then voila, it arrives. Again, a real fresh feeling punk sound in the guitars, and well paced drumming. It all fits together with perfect precision, gaps in the music with just a twang of the guitars. It is another credit to the album.
A completely different drum beat opens this song, it has a grind to it, and the guitars sound extra overdriven, but distant in the background, the song then changes of course, and enters into Green Day mode for the chorus, and alternates through the verses and chorus' with the two sounds. The change is smooth, and the chorus keeps the basic sound of the guitar underneath which is good. Despite the half decent music behind it, it is, a bit samey. There isn't really anything special here, nothing is making this song jump out and impressing me, it just exsists, fluttering away into the background.
'''Last Night on Earth'''
Again we open with a slow piece of piano, but this time there is a slow drum beat as an accompaniment. It has a really slow drud to it, and the music, as the guitar is placed in the background retains a tempo consistent with something which would be adequate for some soppy love ballad. Ah, hang on...
_ "My beating heart belongs to you_
_I walked for miles till I found you_
_I'm here to honour you_
_If I lose everything in the fire_
_Did I ever make it through?" _
It _is_ a love song. That makes sense then. Again, it isn't really hitting me anywhere special. It doesn't feel like something that would stick in my mind, and, as far as romantic lyrics go, they don't hold the candle to anything either. An average, at best, song here.
'''East Jesus Nowhere'''
Again there is the tuning sounds of radio or an old TV or something, then a neat, clean sounding series of guitar chords, which sounds fresh and as the more overdriven guitar comes in, and the real Green Day sound kicks in, the song sounds instantly better. It has a nice throbbing too the guitars and the drums assist perfectly, they have their shouting echoes and a nice bass line behind it all. The singing fits in nicely too, adding another dimension, in both tone and lyric wise. After the lower quality of the last two tracks, we are getting better again now, and this, while unlikely to ever be considered a great track, certainly contains the elements required to make something decent.
"1,2,3,4" Billie Joe whispers, and in comes a Spanish sounding flicker on the guitar, which as the drums roll in, and the bass line enters too, sounds awesome. It has a pretty Mediterranean feel (yeah, I know, my geography is terrible..). The chorus possesses a catchy beat too, and it is sang perfectly. It is definitely a highlight on the album, and also has a decent guitar solo bit, which rather than just there to be able to say "yeah, we have guitar solos", actually contributes to the feel of the song, and is followed by a slight change in the music as a strings arrangement is brought in, topping of the spanitteranian feel.
'''Last of the American Girls'''
Lead by a bass line, it thuds deep, with a light drum beat over the top. The main bulk of the song keeps a light tone, and the chorus has a gentle bit of guitar laid over it, which has a nice tune to it, but is not anything spectacular. I am now getting the impression that this is a very mixed album, alternating between decent and average songs. This is the latter. It just doesn't offer anything that really excites me.
Coming in with some beeps which faded out from the previous track, the drum beat rolls in, gaining tempo, until the bass and guitar hop aboard. It is immediately fast paced punk, and it sounds great. The verse guitar keeps a quick pace, even though the singing is slow in comparison, it works really well, and the chorus sounds great, which the refrain of "desperate, but not hopeless", which I think is quite a nice line. There is then a solo, which, isn't just for show, it sounds great, it keeps the feel of the song rocking, and I cannot fault it. Whilst possessing such a pace, it retains a melancholy feel, and I really like that about the song, it's only problem, is that at just under 3 minutes, it's a bit too short, and I would happily listen to another verse or two raising it to around 5 minutes...
_"Christian's crying _
_In the bathroom _
_And I just want to _
_Bum a cigarette _
_We've come so far _
_We've been so wasted _
_It's written all over our faces" _
I particularly like that last verse, it kind of describes the average weekend for me really, well, I don't know anyone called Christian, but anyway. It's the perfect reflection of what I am sure is the average Friday night for a lot of people of this generation.
'''¿Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)'''
Like it's older brother, the track with a similar name earlier on in the album, we start of with a nice piano piece, but this has an extension, with a plonky jive to it before kicking into the main part of the song. Had they chosen to, I think they could have made an ace song with just that piece. The song keeps the same chords but onto guitar, the same pace proceeds and we have another great song on our hands. It works really well, and has a menacing feel to it, and the solo again feels like it has a purpose.
'''Restless Heart Syndrome'''
Admittedly, the sight novelty of introducing all this piano into the album is beginning to get a little bit tiring. It started being all dramatic and adding a new sound to the music, but now... anyway, this song opens up with a sprinkle of notes from the old pianee, it then catches a slow drum beat keeping a song with a slower tempo to most. As the piano gradually drifts off into the abyss, the song instantly improves, and doesn't sound quite so dire. A splash of strings is here and there, which does add something. Mid way, there is this awesome breakdown. It sounds like a barrage of sound in some formulated way, mainly owing to the guitars with some cool feedback sound, which, as with most songs that ever feature something cool like that, doesn't last long enough.
So, while all in all, it isn't a bad song, the biggest flaw with it I have found is that the lyrics are not delivered very well. Having a quick read up on them, they make an excellent poem (at least in my view).
_ "It's like an ulcer bleeding in my brain_
_Send me to the pharmacy_
_So i can lose my memory_
_Lord knows i tried to find a way to run away"_
OK, so not quite in the realms of Owen, Auden or Shelley, nor is it even prize winning material, but it is pretty decent, but sang in such a way that it loses the meaning that it could package, and I didn't really get the point of the song, yet reading through, with my own tune forming in my mind, it strengthens them so much.
'''Horseshoes and Hand Grenades '''
Enter another mediocre song, which I cannot get excited over. Sure, it opens with a great series of chords, it packs power behind it, the lyrics are sang angrily, and the drums clatter and bang with a near constant ting of the cymbals, but, well, "been there, heard that". It even has a scream or something (sounds possibly like a chicken being strangled) in the middle of it, but that just sounds silly, maybe a proper little death metal scream would have worked... Billie Joe keeps singing "I'm not fucking around", and unfortunately, he's not making a decent song either... and it ends, with as ridiculous a little scream as before, though this time, I think he was trying to sing some words at the same time.
'''The Static Age'''
Now, this may be lazy of me, but scroll back up, read "Horseshoes and Hand Grenades" again, but ignore the screaming references. Song reviewed.
Ever so quietly, there is some strings, a double bass maybe, and the lower notes of a violin, barely audible, then an acoustic guitar enters with some clean chords, and Billie Joe's vocals. When the bass and drums enter, the song gains a real depth to it, and we have a good song again. It has a range of music, the chorus obviously raising the tempo, getting some power chords in and whatnot, and the verse keeping simple, with a piano in the back, it has this beauty to it kind of, however I am a bit in mixed minds about the way he sings the words "21 guns". He keeps singing a little bit too high, like he caught his bollocks on the guitar amp at the same point each chorus, sounds a bit unnatural really. The solo piece works nicely, it floats gently atop of the chords other pieces, folding down into another little rendition of those opening strings and sliding into that really soft acoustic bit again, which should have been where they left it, and not bothered going into repeating the chorus a couple more times, and ending on a fadeout chord...
'''American Eulogy (Mass Hysteria/Modern World)'''
Remember that opening track, which was just the faint murmurs of Billie Joe? Well it comes back again, before knocking into the real song. This has a real solid punk feel behind it, light and not overbearing guitars, form the verse, and every time he sings "Mass Hysteria" there is a little riff which sounds odd, but quite good.
Then there is a little breakdown, the guitar is plucked and the induvidul strings can be heard... momentarily. Shame it doesn't continue on a bit more like that, since it was good, but is soon changed, a little solo piece in the same pitch as the weird riff.
Then into the Modern World section of the song. This is better, even more punky, well at least in the first verse of it anyway, where the lyrics are sang with more punk attitude to them. A chorus piece, then another little solo bit, there for nothing but display I guess, it certainly isn't anything interesting. Another verse, which this time features some strange feedback, which doesn't sound like it should be there, maybe they just fancied playing around, well, it didn't work.
'''See the Light'''
Some chords are struck, and there is a rising guitar sound coming in from the back, which finally plucks the courage to dominate as the drums kick in. Musically, there is a good mix, with a nice riff draping itself over the chords, it does sound rather pleasing. But that is about the extent. I don't know, but it seems like ending on a high isn't what they wanted to do, or at least, if they did, they failed epically. There isn't really anything new here, nothing fresh tasting and juicy, it's sounds like a regurgitation of there other tracks.
== Summing Up ==
I obviously didn't expect another "American Idiot", and well, if it was like that, it would have just been repetitive and so wouldn't have faired well anyway. I suppose, really, I wasn't wholly sure what to expect, but after the disappointment suffered from The Decemberist's latest, I was hoping for something that wasn't going to cause me to crawl into a whole, clutching my precious CD collection refusing to ever buy anything new again.
I am really stuck on rating this overall. I suppose a 3 would be what it needs, but the good tracks are genuinely great, they offer something new, and refreshing. There is splashes of great lyrics and great, modern punk sounds. There are tracks that I will definitely listen to over and over again in the future, songs that I would recommend to my friends, and really, these are the songs that I will associate the album with, causing me to give it a 4 star rating.
The poor songs aren't diabolical, it's not like I was listening to them wishing them to end, I just wasn't enjoying them like I should have been, the consistency of quality just isn't here, it is a mixed album for sure.
One thing I really did not like, was their strange openings to songs. There was the odd few, which has what seemed like a pointless intro to them, the strings on '21 Guns', could be removed, open straight off with the chords from the guitar, the poem on 'American Eulogy' get rid of it, open instead with the immediate cry of "HYSTERIA". It seems like they wanted to add a little class to the album, make it seemed a little more refined, but instead they just added something pointless. Like drinking tea through a straw, it may seem like a good idea, but really, it gets in the way, and can reduce the enjoyment (oh and it burns your tongue, the tea that is, a song cannot literally burn...).
I am now feeling disappointed with the album, I hadn't until this very moment. I'm not disappointed because it isn't as good as I had perhaps hoped, but because of the overall presentation, and the potential. At 18 tracks, I think they could have perhaps trimmed some of the fat off, cutting it down to the usual 10-14 tracks long, and I am sure that then it would taste sweeter. I also think that had they perhaps spent an extra week in the studio, listened to a couple of the songs over a few times, they might have noticed little ways to improve it (the intro removal thingy for one) and other tweaks.
I am going to go as far as to say that I '''do''' recommend the album. It is worth the £8.95 you can get it for on www.play.com, although, I wouldn't say it needs to be something you rush out and get tomorrow. Your life could wait maybe, for a year or so, when the price has gone down a few extra pounds.
== Suck it and See ==
'''Know your Enemy''' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIJgSEiAJ5A
'''¡Viva la Gloria! '''- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG_jYaIBXFw
'''21 Guns '''- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p4YoWnoVIg
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Song Of The Century
2 21st Century Breakdown
3 Know Your Enemy
4 Viva La Gloria
5 Before The Lobotomy
6 Christian's Inferno
7 Last Night On Earth
8 East Jesus Nowhere
10 Last Of The American Girls
11 Murder City
12 Viva La Gloria (Little Girl)
13 Restless Heart Syndrome
14 Horseshoes And Handgrenades
15 Static Age, The
16 21 Guns
17 American Eulogy
18 See The Light