My iPod #543: Green Day – Horseshoes and Handgrenades

“Horseshoes and Handgrenades” would have been the perfect first single for 21st Century Breakdown, in my opinion. “I’m not fucking around” seems like the perfect first line to come back after five years of waiting for a new album, Billie Joe sings like he is attacking with a vengeance on here and sounds absolutely untouchable. He isn’t playing any games. Most of all, the song doesn’t play it safe; though it’s a bit repetitive it is still very exciting to listen to whereas, unfortunately, “Know Your Enemy” pales in comparison.

Like Sex Pistols’ “Holidays in the Sun”, “Horseshoes” begins with a chanting soldiers march but instead introduces the song’s rip-roaring riff before Tré Cool pounds on the tom-toms to get things really rolling. In three and a bit minutes, Billie Joe Armstrong doesn’t really sing as he does melodically shout about destroying everything in his path and not giving a fuck about it. He has no respect for himself, labelling himself as ‘a hater’ and ‘a traitor’, so why should he care about what anyone else says? The solid wall of guitars made by Butch Vig’s production heighten Billie Joe’s delivery, providing a relentless riff that repeats for what seems like hours on end and come to a sudden stop after Billie’s snarling screams.

There’s a raw intensity captured in “Horseshoes” that doesn’t appear so much in the album, and it is the only one where the band go balls to the wall in their performance for the whole track.

Advertisements

My iPod #539: Green Day – Homecoming

Jimmy’s story comes to an epic close in the second medley on American Idiot. In “Homecoming”, the anti-hero rids himself of his ‘St. Jimmy’ alter ego and makes an effort to lead a normal life before, overcome with self-pity and loneliness, deciding to return to the home that he had left ten songs earlier. In nine minutes, the track tells this story in five separate movements (“The Death of St. Jimmy”, “East 12th St.”, “Nobody Likes You”, “Rock and Roll Girlfriend”, and “We’re Coming Home Again”), acting as the final chapter to the main storyline before the epilogue of “Whatsername“.

Mike Dirnt actually instigated work on the track, writing a ‘thirty second song’ that caught Billie Joe’s attention. He then went to write his own half-minute number with Tré Cool doing the same. Serious business grew as the three members began to try and outdo each other, but the time arrived when they began connecting their snippets together and realised that they could really start something with the method. “Homecoming” was born, and “Jesus of Suburbia” followed soon after.

“Homecoming” has always edged further than “Jesus” for me. Both are excellent compositions for sure, but the former sees the narrator in a somewhat more mature light than the latter. Instead of feeling victimized and angry with those around him, Jimmy realises that he has been in the wrong the whole time. After all the shit he has gone through, it is good to hear the steps that lead to his much needed happy ending.

My iPod #536: Green Day – Holiday

Green Day’s “Holiday” is the third song on their 2004 ‘punk rock opera’ American Idiot, released in 2004. Having no idea who Green Day were at the time, I didn’t know why such a big deal was being made about their so called ‘return’. After years of avid listening I know now that it was their first album since pretty much disappearing after 2000’s Warning, so the hype was understandable. Still, I wasn’t that great a fan of the title track. Nor did I pay that much attention to “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” when it was out as the next single. My whole attitude toward Green Day changed upon the unveiling of “Holiday”; I liked it that much that ended up watching all of the band’s older videos. “Holiday” is the reason why I started listening to Green Day. And I have no regrets.

In terms of the album’s storyline “Holiday” arrives at the point where the main character “Jimmy” AKA “The Jesus of Suburbia” has left his shitty home and is enjoying his freedom in the big city.  Out of the album’s story, the lyrics were written by Billie Joe Armstrong as a ‘fuck you’ to George W. Bush and Republican politicians. The song has a swinging rhythm that aids the sense of swagger and reckless abandon displayed in the lyrics. What I really loved about the track way back when were the vocals of the track. Billie Joe’s yelling/singing at the top of his lungs, along with the chanting backing vocals (AMEN), gave me a feeling that I was on top of the world and nothing could touch me. It was good being ten years old.

The rest of 2005 was made up of me listening to Green Day and watching Homestar Runner. Don’t think I would have done the former if it wasn’t for “Holiday”. It has been a good ten years listening to their music.

My iPod #531: Green Day – Hitchin’ a Ride

Green Day’s 1997 album Nimrod exhibited a change in the band’s musical direction. Differing vastly from the angst and rough punk rock sounds delivered two years prior on Insomniac, Billie Joe, Mike and Tré decided to branch out from their origins and make an album where they weren’t confined to one type of sound. This new sense of freedom resulted in a total of thirty songs being recorded before they were whittled down to create one of Green Day’s most eclectic record to date.

“Hitchin’ a Ride” was the first single to be released from Nimrod. Whilst not explicitly showing the experimentation that was to come in the album, one could tell that there was something different about the band. It is much different from the first single used to promote the previous album. A mysterious violin opens the song, before its chugging four note riff takes over. Remaining relatively calm for the majority of the beginning, bar the instrumental break where the riff is played with more venom, things don’t get very rowdy until halfway through. The chorus finally arrives for the first time and all hell breaks loose shortly after Armstrong yells “SHIT” from the pit of his stomach.

“Hitchin’ a Ride” manages to symbolise the change in style Green Day were going through at the time whilst also giving off the vibe that this was the same Green Day who had released “Basket Case” a few years earlier. It was a wise decision to use it as the first song to represent their new material. People would at least be a bit more prepared for what was to come.

My iPod #475: Green Day – Green Day

An old old old Green Day song today. “Green Day” is a track from the band’s first album https://www.youtube.com/embed/-m32mWGk-vc“>39 Smooth released in 1990 when they weren’t signed to a major label and didn’t have Tré Cool as their drummer. Weird to think, huh? But it’s very true.

You may think it a bit strange to have a song with the same name as the band itself. I know I did for a long time. But it was after realisation that the track was probably written whilst the band weren’t known as “Green Day” but by the name of “Sweet Children” initially. It’s known that the group changed their name to the former just because it sounded better – which I’m sure we can all agree on – and the context behind it is pretty funny too. When you smoke weed, it’s a green day.

And so, that is what this song is about. Smoking weed. Seeing strange things whilst under the influence. All set to an unpolished production of punk rock. Niiiice.

My iPod #406: Green Day – Geek Stink Breath

If you’re a bit squeamish, have a nervous disposition, or specifically are not interested in observing close-ups a tooth being pulled out of a person’s mouth… then the video above is not the one to watch. And yet, it was the treatment Green Day chose to be used in the video to promote the first single from their upcoming album “Insomniac“. Last seen aimlessly walking around the streets of California at night singing about an up-in-the-air relationship a few months before, the band were now louder, harsher, and in-your-face, and performing in a bright red room bursting out a track about methamphetamine use.

And those descriptions above are a few reasons why I tend to prefer “Insomniac” over “Dookie” sometimes. From what I’ve noticed the consensus is that “Insomniac” is “Dookie’s little brother”, and is okay-but-just-not-as-good as that album. It seems a bit hypocritical to say that the two shouldn’t be compared to one another, seeing as I just did that in the first sentence of this paragraph. But I will say that “Insomniac” is a underrated as hell. Give it some respect. Turns twenty this October, I want some recognition.

Admittedly “Geek Stink Breath” was not a song of theirs that I liked when I first began listening to Green Day a decade ago. The video might have had something to do with that feeling. It might have had a lot to do with it, actually. But the track, to me, sounded very, very, very simple. Didn’t really like the song’s chord progression. The vocal melody wasn’t didn’t have the effect like others such as “Minority”, “Longview”, or “Stuck with Me” had on me…. and Billie Joe sounded too snotty and grimy too. I just couldn’t get into it.

Listening to a song over and over again can have a strange effect sometimes, though. I wouldn’t say it is one of Green Day’s best songs; it’s not one of the best songs on “Insomniac”. But I think it’s choice as a single was very appropriate. The perfect song to present the band’s new sound and image. Overall, it’s alright.

Mash-Ups

So as I was saying yesterday, 2009-2010 was my Beatles year. And because of my sudden interest in the group, I got “The Beatles Rock Band” as a present early in the first month of the new decade. Now I was able to play along with George, Ringo, John and Paul on 45 of their signature tracks (and three albums extra as DLC). Undeniable fun was had. Though once all the songs were there and I’d played them all that fun faded away. Hope that every Beatles song would be added to game was dashed as days passed.

But  buying the game led me to joining its official forum where I chatted to some cool people. They owned the game, and liked The Beatles as much as I did. What could go wrong? That’s when you expect the heel-turn. But nothing did go wrong. It was a good few months on there.

The best thing I did on there, was contribute to a ‘community mash-up’ album conceived by another member. It was meant to be in the style of the ‘LOVE’ album of 2006 made for the Cirque du Soleil show. Obviously, ours weren’t as professional or on the same level as those tracks. But the process of making it was one of the most exciting things, and the ending product was pretty well done. The album’s title? “Melodies of Memories”. Very nice.

You can follow the album’s making by clicking here. You can also watch each song’s video on YouTube via clicking on this whole sentence. I am the member named ‘JAMZFTW’. I have reasons behind the name, but I won’t tell them. I also made some extra songs that didn’t make it on there, either because they didn’t fit or because it was too late. That ended up being an “EP” which I appropriately named “PEACE”. ‘Cause ‘Peace and Love’, get it? Click on here to download it.

I got so hyped up over the ‘mash-up’ idea that I ended up making many more. A sequel to “Melodies of Memories” was initiated by another forum member literally days after the first. That member then disappeared, and didn’t log in for a long time. How did it end? Well, the sequel was released eventually entitled “All Things Must Return”. That album and the songs from “Peace” would be on YouTube had the company not terminated my account, which I’m still sad about to this day.

I was even determined to start a part 2 to *that* incorporating the use of Beatles solo material to do the mash-ups. That album died. No one cared. And to be honest, I didn’t either. Songs were made though. Those are all in my Mediafire account. I will share those below. A Green Day Mash-Up album was also started. That died too. As did a Pink Floyd/Beatles mash-up album.

But a huge shout-out goes to the members on those forums. Glad I got the chance to participate in something that was so fun, creative and very productive.

IN SUMMARY, CLICK ON THESE LINKS:

Melodies of Memories (April 2010 – May 2010): The Beatles Community Mash-Up Album and the aftermath of its ‘release’.

PEACE (May 2010): The above’s accompanying “EP”.

Echoes of Love (Started July 2010 – died): The Beatles/Pink Floyd Mash-up album that didn’t quite happen. Though here are two tracks I did for it. Download here and here.

Green Day Community Mash-Up Album (Started August 2010 – finished never): Started in dedication to the then new release of “Green Day: Rock Band”. Wasn’t finished. Good songs were made for it though. All download links are on that forum.

The Beatles Acoustic Medley Pt. 3 (October 2010): A little something something requested by a forum member which I was happy to do.

All Things Must Return (May 2010 – January 2011): The sequel to “Melodies of Memories”. The Beatles Community Mash-Up Album II and the aftermath of its ‘release’. As I already said it’s not on YouTube anymore. You can still download the album here though.

All Things Must Return II (Started 2010 – Never finished): I actually did the first song for the album in 2010, combining “How Do You Sleep” by Lennon, “Too Many People” by McCartney and “Wah-Wah” by Harrison to make the song “Thinking of You” – a phrase taken from the latter song. Fitting because all three songs were written with the other Beatles in mind. However, actual work on the album didn’t start until February 2011, when the first “All Things Must Return” was done. As you can see, nothing really came of it. The mash-up era was over.

Enjoy listening to whatever you can though. Hope you have as much fun listening as I did making them.