A couple of years ago I was driving over to Birmingham and my wife bought the the new Green Day record "American Idiot" for our drive. I was a fan of the band and really liked "Dookie" but I hadn't followed them for a while. I had read some great things about their new concept album and wanted to check it out. I was blown away how they made that concept record and had a new found respect for them.
This week when driving back from Tampa and my wife and I had to get the new Green Day CD "21st Century Breakdown". I was excited to hear this record for so many reasons. The band co -produced the new record with Butch Vig. Butch is the drummer for Garbage and he is also a huge record producer who I greatly respect his work. He has produced Nirvana'a "Nevermind" and Smashing Pumpkins "Siamese Dream" so I was expecting a lot from him on this record and I was not let down. I will get more in depth about the production later.
Green Day took their concept record idea to a whole new level. So much thought went into this record I don't know where to begin. The CD is broken down into 3 acts with a general theme for each act. Many of the songs are multi movements with different feels and tempos. The band really stretches out from their comfort zone and covers many musical styles that they are not known for.
"Before The Lobotomy" is one of my favorites because it starts with this 12 string guitar or a nylon string and Billie Joe singing very intimately. The song then goes into a 7/4 time signature with this cool guitar riff sounding like "Rush". I truly love this part of the song and listened to it many times. They then do a huge tempo slow down and work back to the intimate beginning but this time they use big guitars.
The song "21 1st Century Breakdown" starts with something reminiscent of the band "Big Star". It is a classic sounding pop tune with a great retro sound. It then morphs into something that sounds like the Green Day song "Holiday" with a metal edge. The band then breaks down into something that sounds like the rock anthem Free Bird.
"Know Your Enemy" just freakin' rocks. This is a great energetic rock song that will be awesome live. It is right down the middle of the road for Green Day.
"Last Night On Earth" could have been on a Beatles record. The chord changes and the production sound like something McCartney and Lennon would have written. It is great to hear the band really go places that we have not heard before. There is latin sounding song on the record as well as vaudeville sounding song.
"21 Guns" is the big single on this record. It is a great song in the power rock ballad but for me it is hard to follow up their "Wake Me Up When September Ends". I wish I wrote "Wake Me Up When September Ends" because it was perfect in every way so anything else they write in that style I will always compare it to "Wake Me Up When September Ends".
The production on this record is definitely in my top 3 favorite of all time. Butch Vig gets amazing tones on the drums and guitars and Chris Lord-Alge just blows me away with the mixes. I think Butch really worked well with Green Day and I don't know if it was him or the band that decided to push their comfort zone but it works. I like all the squashed compression and the radio sounding intros and endings. Everything is big and crystal clear.
Chris Lord-Alge did a wonderful job at mixing the whole record. It rocks really hard but there are also great moments of intimacy. I cannot say enough about the drum and guitar sounds. I come to expect that from Chris and his brother Tom. They are the masters of allowing you to hear every little instrument on a song without comprising the overall sound of the track. Chris and his brother Tom are probably the best 2 mixers in the world especially when they actually get a chance to mix a whole record. Most of their time is spent mixing every song on the radio but occasionally they get to mix a whole record.
I highly recommend this record so go buy it.