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Jesus Christ Superstar » Green Day Jesus Of Suburbia

Music Review of a Guitar Based Album

'American Idiot' (the song) has been a staple of radio stations the past few months. Though the re-election of Bush has given it and other protest songs a longer shelf life, it is the type of song that everyone loves at first but gets played out really fast.

Many might disagree with me here but I think the complexity of music adds an important dimension when considering long term listening and whether the song will become 'played out'. Think of the lyrics of Tool (love em or hate em, they try to be original), The complex arrangements of many Metallica songs or both bands' frequent disregard for the standard structure of songs (verse- refrain, verse-refrain, breakdown-buildup-refrain). Think of the many classic Metallica songs that stretch several minutes with riffs buried like jewels, complex instrumental effects, etc.

My point is American Idiot (the album) is refreshing, outstanding and original-for Green Day.

As for the lengthy 'Homecoming' and 'Jesus of Suburbia' (at the structural opposite ends of the playlist) , just because a song is 9+ minutes in length does necessarily make it "epic". Each part flows nicely into the next, but they still feel like 4 or 5 small songs strung together, and the average listener, after hearing one of these songs in its entirety, is loath to hit the repeat button.

Green day has often made the type of music where even non guitarists notice the chord changes: da da da da-duh duh duh duh- da da da da (usually 4/4), and the 3 chord Green Day hits that beginning guitarists love to practice with sometimes sound a little one-dimensional. In general the structure of the songs shouldn't be so obvious and the standard distortion could be varied a bit. But luckily a smattering of new sounds (tabla sounding drums which start out 'Extraordinary Girl' or the Spanish guitar-like sounds of Give me Novocain') save the album from feeling too repetitious. The nasal vocals might be wearing for some who listen to the album in one sitting, but they come off rather well in individual songs. The verses of 'Novocain' sound like they're being sung by some dreamy 50's crooner while the whiny punk is still very much in the house in songs like 'Letterbomb'

Even most of the songs that start out sounding like filler tracks catch on to some underlying melody and pull through, a sign that the album will likely improve with listening.

'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' is the clear standout, with a mainstream appeal possibly as large as 'Good Riddance', and will probably be picked up on and heard in the background of shows and movies soon enough. 'Holiday' is outstanding, catchy, and likely to be the next single released. It and 'American Idiot' are supposedly the two in-your-face protest songs, but the others come off sounding politically indirect. If you gathered from the album cover that this would be some Rage Against the Machine style outpouring against the administration, you'd be mistaken.

'Wake Me Up' is a pleasant song; you can just picture an elflike Billie Joe lying in the grass feeling vunerable and lamenting the loss of innocence. It starts out soft and almost childlike, but then the guitars come in and round out the feel.

'Are We the Waiting' and 'St. Jimmy' are tolerable but borderline while 'Whatsername' is a nice melancholy wind down.

Taken in its entirety, the "rock opera" attempt is impressive and when the songs allude to each other, it really does tie together the whole. Any fan of Green Day will love this album, any semi-fan of Green Day or merely a fan of the sub genre will feel it to be far above average. Those who have never listened to Green Day will likely feel this to be a slightly above average album on the first listen. Whether their opinion improves or lessens depends on how they feel about the melodic factors I have stated above.

Most reviewers here have given 5 stars, and I understand why they did, but I feel such a rating should be reserved for perfection. Those who bother to write reviews usually feel strongly one way or the other, which is why they bother to write in the first place. So I'll just add some balance and save my 5 stars for when Green Day's eventual greatest hits come out.

1. American Idiot
2. Jesus of Suburbia
3. Holiday
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
5. Are We the Waiting
6. St. Jimmy
7. Give Me Novocain
8. She's a Rebel
9. Extraordinary Girl
10. Letterbomb
11. Wake Me Up
12. Homecoming
13. Whatsername

Definitely worth a listen. Makes me want log on to a guitar blog and learn some new guitar tricks

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