by Scott Hefflon
Anyone who hasn’t yet realized that Green Day became great songwriters, well, here’s yer wake up call. Aside from the jumpy punkpop they patented and the acoustic touchingness of Top 40 radio ballads, there’s a vulnerability and sadness and dark underbelly to the chipper, jangly threesome. The bio, written by former Lookout! head-honcho Lawrence Livermore, speaks of hope and heartfelt and endearing love songs (which now include love for family, home and finding peace) and how Billie’s been listening to old Bob Dylan recently. If you say “Oh, that’d explain the harmonica on ‘Hold On'” I think I may have to come over there and slap you even stupider. As usual, the bug-eyed jerkiness is complimented by Billy Joe’s insightful lyrics which mix brutal honesty with just a touch of poetic flair, and extra musical perks like a sax solo, string arrangements, and adapting the spooky candy-corn melody of “Downtown” into “Waiting” (actually singing “downtown” for those a little slow, then switching to “dawning” and “dumbstruck” once yer with them.*). But while I love their return to form(ula), I have to say my favorite song here is the band-written slice of dark realism, “Misery.” A simple “old-world” umpa-umpa (think old Italy or the band Firewater) telling the tales of various hapless souls as they lose it all (mostly due to drugs and violence and running with the wrong crowd) littered with more exotic instruments than I could misspell in a single sitting. I can listen to this gem three or four times in a row with pleasure, and know friends’ll be getting this sucker on mixed CDs as soon as I get some. Friends, I mean. I have CDs.
*For those who don’t get the reference, watch a few AM Gold informercials on late night TV or take some “risks” at the bargain bin with the $1 you could save by not supersizing your next fast food binge, ya overweight fuck. Great songs existed before you were born – even though the bands did dress kinda funny – and if your band covers old songs, suddenly everyone’ll think you’re a lot smarter than you actually are. For an eerie cover of “Downtown,” check out Rx (pronounced Ritalin, comprised of Ogre from Skinny Puppy and Martin Atkins of Invisible Records and the musician orgy that is Pigface), I think the song was featured in Girl, Interrupted, and I always think of Rasputina’s cover of “You Don’t Own Me” as being like-minded.