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Music Review: Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown

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My musical tastes have not changed very much in the last twenty-five years or so which most of my reviews can attest too. Every once in awhile, however, an artist or group will strike a chord that will resonate with me and I will add them to my personal play list.

Green Day was one of those rare neo-punk groups that appealed to my musical tastes despite my being a part of the generation that they were criticizing and railing against. I remember that my daughters were in high school in the late eighties and early nineties and were appalled that I enjoyed a group that they had appropriated as their own.

It’s hard to believe that Green Day is now over twenty years into their career and that their break out album, Dookie, was released in 1994. They and their original generation of fans have become adults and are now part of the establishment. My daughters still listen to Green Day while driving my grandchildren to soccer practice.

Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre’ Cool have progressed musically over the years. American Idiot, released in 2005, showed a sophistication which was not present on their earlier releases. Political commentary, thematic material and thoughtful lyrics replaced their previous themes.

21st Century Breakdown finds a 2009 Green Day returning with a very strong release. The music is tied together in acts but the story is fairly loose and the material covers a lot of ground. It contains a lot of music that will bear repeated listens to understand and hopefully appreciate what Green day is trying to say.

I have now listened to the album a number of times and several of the tracks stand out. “Horseshoes and Handgrenades” is the track that pays homage to their punk-rock roots as it is energetic, ominous, and in your face. “Last Night On Earth” is a rare but beautiful ballad that supposedly was written for Armstrong’s wife. Whether this will be a direction they will explore more fully in the future remains to be seen, but if so this would serve as a good foundation.

“Before The Lobotomy” is a song that builds and contains some odd or distorted guitar sounds before ultimately reaching a powerful conclusion. “21 Guns” comes close to being an anthem like creation and I can visualize it being played live. The title track is enjoyable which is probably not what the Green Day of a decade ago would want to hear.

There is a lot of music to explore and no doubt future listens will unearth some more gems.

Green Day has learned their craft well and they continue to take chances by expanding their musical boundaries which is commendable for such a commercially successful group. I’m sure that as my grandchildren grow older that some day we will be a three generation Green Day family.

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