punk rock

Eternity In Your Arms – Creeper

Release Year: 2017

Rating: 8.5/10

Rock music has gone through numerous changes since its inception, but somewhere along the way, it lost its theatrics. Rockstars no longer seem larger than life, mysterious, or alien. Creeper is here to change that. These theatrical punks from Southhampton, UK are taking you back to the days when rock music was a spectacle. Not only is their music over the top and filled with Gothic drama, they’re creating a mythos and extend an offer to join their Creeper Cult. With dark imagery, a healthy dose of punk rock, and a dash of theater, these punks are making rock music fun again.

Creeper is all about theatrics. You can hear every ounce of drama, camp, fear, and desire in their songs whether it’s from the music or frontman Will Gould’s vocals. Their songs are like mini-macabre plays circling around themes of love, death, loss, loneliness, and frustration. The album itself is a loose concept record based on the characters Madeline, The Stranger, and James Scythe, which were first mentioned on their second EP, The Callous Heart. While the story is easy enough to pick up after a few listens, it doesn’t make or break the record. You could easily listen to it without realizing the songs are connected. In the end, the story doesn’t really matter because everything else about the album is so damn good.

The opening track “Black Rain” perfectly captures what Creeper is about. It has a gloomy, Gothic intro featuring a brief mysterious monologue before exploding in a mass of shredding guitars and crashing keys. The best part is the big chorus which sounds like a choir from the depths of darkness singing “And in the rain/I screamed your name.” It has an awesome anthemic quality; you can easily picture a stadium singing this song. Though it’s one of the album’s highlights, there are moments where it reminds you of My Chemical Romance’s “Helena.” It’s forgivable, though.

Poison Pens” doesn’t let you relax for a second with its pummeling drums, doom-laden bass, and rapid guitars. It’s a hyper punk track that’ll get you moshing as soon you hear “Our love is dead!” screaming in your ears. The bridge gives you a chance to catch your breath when things slow down and Gould sings “I fell like an angel for you/now I do the deeds that devils do” sounding sinister and ready to strike. The off the rails pace and AFI-inspired gang vocals make it one of the most thrilling tracks on the album. “Suzanne” is another high energy track with a similar punk edge full of morbid imagery. The song instantly hooks you with its rallying cry of “now now now now!” along with the Meatloaf-esque hooks. These over the top vocals are part of their campy appeal and helps them stand out in the deluge of forgettable punk rock bands.

Hiding With Boys” is another insanely fun song that shows off a bit of the band’s glam-rock influences. This one is more upbeat and doesn’t have as much of an edge as the other tracks. The hook of “hiding with the boys in your bedroom” has an infectious melody and is just fun to sing at the top of your lungs. The music is kind of playful and the extensive keys give the song more of a classic feel, as if you heard it before, which isn’t necessarily bad.

But just when you have the band figured out, they switch gears showing another side to themselves. “Misery” keeps its gloomy nature with the subdued acoustic guitar accompanying Gould’s fragile vocals slowing things down considerably. With just Gould and a guitar, for the most part, it’s the most honest track on the album. The Gothic nature of the band shows up in coy lines like “I wrote down a list of coroners/their names, their office phone numbers/to pronounce dead the thing we had” and the hook “misery never goes out of style.”  Near the end, the music intensifies and Gould’s vocals are more pronounced and powerful as if he’s found the will to go on despite all the bad things happening. This shift nicely changes things, keeping the song from getting dull.

Creeper gives us another intimate moment with “Crickets,” sung by keyboardist Hannah Greenwood. Unlike most of the record, this song has a hint of a country vibe, especially with the accompanying violin in the background. Greenwood absolutely kills the song with her pretty, yet gritty vocals. You can feel her ache as she sings about the end of a relationship. The song is an unexpected treat from the band. Not only do these songs give us a break from the onslaught of raging guitars and dark matter, they show how the band can go beyond their comfort zone. They’re not just another band keen on loud guitars and screaming vocals.

While most of the songs are fun, catchy, and stand out, the two low points of the album are “Down Below” and “Winona Forever.” These songs aren’t bad; they’re both upbeat and fun like the other tracks with their sing-a-long hooks and bouncy rhythms. They’re just not that memorable compared to the rest of the album. The band quickly gets back on track with “Darling” and “Room 309,” which continue the trend of raging guitars, big hooks, and lots of drama. Here, it’s hard not hear their musical influences. You can easily pick up traces of AFI, MCR, Misfits, and Alkaline Trio. Is this bad? Not really. It’s clear they’re inspired by these bands, but at least they avoid sounding like cheap knockoffs.

Creeper excels at bringing camp and theatrics to their music, which is part of the reason it’s so much fun. Everything feels over the top from the music to the lyrics, which would sound cheesy anywhere else. The huge dramatics come out the most during closing track “I Choose to Live.” Here, they rip out a page from Queen’s book and feature larger than life music with a booming chorus. One of the most personal songs on the record, it deals with overcoming life’s struggles. Gould starts out singing softly as if defeated. But as we crescendo, his voice gains strength until he’s shouting “I choose to live” at the top of his lungs. It ends the album on an oddly positive note, letting you know no matter what you’re going through, you’re strong enough to survive.

Eternity in Your Arms is a hodgepodge of all the bands Creeper loves and has been influenced by. While they are mostly inspired by punk rock, you can hear traces of emo, glam, pop, and, dare I say, country. This is what helps them stand out. These elements are found all over their songs, keeping the album fresh and exciting. Featuring big hooks, lots of gang vocals, and a touch of Gothic and emo tendencies, their songs are grandiose, a spectacle even. It brings you back to the days when rockstars were meant to be bigger than life or aliens from another planet altogether. Sure, what they’re doing isn’t necessarily breaking genres, but man is it fun.

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AFI (The Blood Album) – AFI

Release Year: 2017

Rating: 7/10

AFI is one of those bands I’ve grown to love and appreciate more over the years. I initially got into them with “Girl’s Not Grey” and Sing the Sorrow. So when they teased a new album last year, I was beyond excited. Burials isn’t necessarily my favorite, but it was solid. I hoped The Blood Album would top that and mark a proper return for the band. Well, that isn’t really the case.

Even before the album dropped, AFI got a lot of flak. Some fans called the songwriting lazy while others thought the songs were just boring. And after spending so much time with it, I see what they mean. The album isn’t bad; it’s just kind of there. Very few of the songs are notable or exciting like we expect from AFI at this point. The opening track “Dark Snow” is decent and kind of catchy with its hook of “I go on,” but it’s not the most gripping song to introduce an album. AFI has always been good at creating openings that punch you in the teeth and tell you what you’re in for. While this track does map out the sound for the rest of the album, it’s kind of tame. It has the potential to grow on you, but it’s not very exciting.

Things get better with “Still a Stranger.” Though it reminds you of something from Crash Love, it has this great energy to it that kicks you into gear. Frontman Davey Havok even pulls out some aggressive vocals though I gotta admit, they do sound a bit forced. It’s a nice way to even out the song with some edge, but it sounds like he’s laying it on a bit too thick. It almost doesn’t fit. Still, this track manages to be one of the more notable ones from the album. Another song in the same vein is “Aurelia.” Havok hypnotizes you with the way he sings “Aurelia, the new wolves await/Aurelia they brought you new chains.” From there the hook is kind of repetitive, but it does its job at making the song stand out. It does sound similar to other songs on the album due to the midtempo music, but it’s still a decent entry.

The rest of the album follows the same suit: songs that barely register, but sound good in the whole scope of the record. Tracks like “Hidden Knives,” “Pink Eyes,” and “Get Hurt” aren’t terrible. There’s just not much to say about them. They have a generally bouncy energy to them while midtempo rock music plays out and Havok spits out some lyrics. I guess they work as a whole, but the songs are kind of weak when you listen to them outside the album. They just don’t hit you the way a good AFI song should. And it doesn’t matter if it’s aggressive or not. Songs like “The Interview” and Endlessly, She Said” are still memorable and charming even though they’re not in your face. The same can’t be said about most of the songs on this album.

Snow Cats” is another decent song that has a bit of a Decemberunderground feel to it. With the somber, mellow guitar riff opening the track, this one has a melancholy mood to it. Still, it’s not the best song in their catalog particularly when it comes to the lyrics. The chorus is easy enough to remember, but the rest of the lyrics aren’t all that engaging. It sounds like Havok strung together a bunch of phrases to be provocative and it doesn’t work. “Feed From the Floor” shows off their lighter side with the brighter music that sounds like it was ripped from The Cure. But after a few minutes, the song grows dull and boring. And closing track “The Wind that Carries Me Away” is only memorable because it sounds like their version of Depeche Mode’s “I Feel You.” The song is aiming for an ominous, smoldering sound and it doesn’t quite hit it. Like most of the other tracks, it’s decent but doesn’t do much.

There are a handful of songs that gives us a taste of the classic, hard hitting AFI we desire. Single “White Offerings” is still one of the standout tracks here. It has a pummeling energy, awesome drive, and tons of attitude. It makes you want to start breaking shit when you hear it. “Dumb Kids” is another standout song for a lot of the same reasons. It finally brings some excitement to the album. It makes you want to pump your fist in the air and start pogo dancing. Personally, these are the type of songs I wanted on the record, mixed in with some morbid romance for good measure. “She Speaks the Language” and “So Beneath You” stand out for actually sounding different. The former has an alluring stuttering guitar riff giving the song a dangerous vibe. The looming bass playing during the verse is killer too making for a notable track. The latter finds the band getting in touch with their aggressive, hardcore side once again. Out of all the songs on the album, this one has the most punk rock influence and will likely appeal to longtime fans.

If there’s one song on the album that I just flat out don’t like it’s “Above the Bridge.” I already mentioned the complaints about lazy songwriting and it’s all over this track. The music itself is okay. It’s kind of generic and has a bit of a Cure vibe with the keyboards. They actually sound pretty similar to the keys on “Just Like Heaven.” Seeing as they were a huge influence on the band, it’s not that much of a surprise. While the music may be unoffending, it’s the hook that I cannot stand: “I saw you step upon that bridge/I saw you walk across that bridge/I saw you float above that bridge.” The constant repetition makes the song annoying. When I first heard it, I dubbed it “that bridge song.” There are some other uninteresting verses, but that’s all there is to it. And even those suffer from constant repetition. Very few of the songs on the record are fantastic, but this one is definitely the weakest entry.

So is the Blood Album bad? Not necessarily, it’s just not very exciting. Rather than having songs that are thrilling, charming, and exciting, the songs are just there. Very few of them manage to stand out and grab your attention. Others are okay at best, sounding generic or too similar to one another. Sadly, the album is kind of disappointing. It’s enjoyable, but still overwhelmingly okay. Usually, their songs can be described as charming, romantic, morbid, or elegant. The best way to describe the new stuff is decent rock songs. And it has nothing to do with their change to a lighter, friendlier sound. I love that AFI is constantly evolving; I just want it to be interesting. This album misses that mark. It does have potential to grow on you over time, but it might take a while. It seems maybe Havok and Puget had too much on their plate while making the record. At the same time, they were working on the new Blaqk Audio album and Havok was working on Dreamcar. It’s fine to want to do a lot of different projects, but there comes a time when you need to focus on just one. I’m glad AFI are back, but I expected better from them. Hopefully, when they’re ready for their next album it’ll be one that will remind me why I fell in love with the band in the first place.

 

Notable Releases of 2016

2016 may not have been music’s finest year, but there were a lot of good albums I played on repeat. While not all of them were notable or amazing, there were plenty that stood out for different reasons. So here are my picks for other notable releases for 2016.

Album that Caught me Off Guard:

Electric Warlock Acid Witch – Rob Zombie

When I heard Rob Zombie was dropping a new album, I reacted with a “meh.” Seeing as I didn’t care for his last few albums, I had low expectations for this one. Educated Horses was a big disappointment, Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is bearable, yet forgettable, and Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor is hardly worth remembering. My disdain for the new album grew when I saw the lengthy album title and tracklist featuring songs like “Everybody’s Fucking in a UFO.” But when listening to it a revelation dawned on me: this is fucking great! This album is Rob Zombie getting back to basics: weird songs, tons of samples, and rocking the fuck out. There are some misses on the record, like the sludgy “WURDALAK,” but it’s a rousing ride from start to finish. Zombie keeps it short and simple as he pumps out bangers like “Get High,” “Get Your Boots On,” and “Teenage Rock God.” Some of the songs are reminiscent of his past stuff, but it still gets your heart racing and head banging. Even the songs that are just okay are still gripping instead of boring filler like on his last records. Listening to it again I couldn’t help throwing devil horns in the air even though I was by myself on the couch. It’s loud, aggressive, weird, freaky, groovy, and kick ass, everything a Rob Zombie album should be. It’s a proper return to his aggressive roots, which he seemed to move away from in later years. And best of all, the album is fun as hell. It reignited my faith that Rob Zombie can still make killer music. Can’t say the same about his movies, though.

Underrated Album of 2016:

Alas Salvation – Yak

Once I heard Yak’s brand of chaotic, psychedelic rock on their 2016 debut, I knew it would be one of my favorite albums of the year. They almost went under my radar, but I barely caught them thanks to an assignment for another music site. What instantly grabbed me was their energetic, destructive vibe. Listening to songs like “Victorious” and “Harbor the Feeling” makes you picture them breaking everything in the room while they’re playing. It felt like I was hearing chaos incarnate when listening to the album. Half the time it’s unbridled noise and audio insanity, but I loved every minute. To keep the album from getting repetitive or dull, Yak plays with different sounds, like the psychedelic tinged “Use Somebody” or the Spaghetti Western isolation of “Smile.” Tracks like these made for an unpredictable, exciting ride. If there was one album that got me the most excited and left the biggest impression on me, this was it. I can’t wait to hear what else the band has in store for us in the future.

Album I Tried to Like But Couldn’t:

I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are so Beautiful yet So Unaware of It – The 1975

Get out the pitchforks right now. Yes, for some reason, I couldn’t get into this album. I was intrigued by The 1975 when I saw them perform “The Sound” on The Tonight Show. Since they’ve received mass praise from practically every outlet, I decided to check them out. While I liked songs like “Love Me” and “A Change of Heart,” the rest did nothing for me. It seems I like the 80’s, danceable side to the band, not the slow, drawn out, ballads that permeated the second half of the record. I listened to it several times, but came away with the same feeling; it’s long and too slow for my tastes. It just didn’t grab me like I hoped it would. This doesn’t mean I think The 1975 are a bad band or that the album sucks. It just wasn’t for me and I still don’t get what all the hype’s about.

Album of the Year Runner Up:

The Dream is Over – PUP

It was really hard picking album of the year and it came down to PUP’s second album and what I ultimately picked. PUP’s self-titled debut kicked ass. It showed off their punk nature and chaotic drive, but also showed the band can do more than just scream and be loud. They pushed that to the breaking point with their sophomore effort. With such praise heaped on their first album, it would’ve been easy for them to cave under pressure and release something that was tolerable. For this album, they somehow managed to top themselves. Everything about felt rawer, fiercer, and even more emotional in some places. I love how songs like “DVP” and “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You (I Will)” are pure destruction and aggression. Yet, songs like “Pine Point” and “Sleep in the Heat” both haunting and gut wrenching. It’s easy for a punk band to be loud and brash, but few of them can get out of their comfort zone and make emotional songs that still kick major ass. So much passion, drive, and heartache comes out of this album, it’s hard to take in all at once. It’s an excellent follow-up proving the band didn’t get lucky the first time around.

Well, 2016 is finally over. Let’s hope more awesome music in 2017. What albums are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

I’m Still Breathing: Green Day at Aragon Chicago

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When I first saw Green Day in 2013 on their 99 Revolutions tour, I thought it was phenomenal. Plenty of people had their complaints, but I couldn’t be happier. There were moments during that show that are still special to me. So imagine my surprise when Green Day managed to top themselves for their stop at Aragon Ballroom. Everything about it was better than before, from the setlist to the crowd. It was an unbelievable moment I’ll never forget that I almost missed out on.

Long story short, I didn’t get tickets. I tried for two hours to no avail. I considered the VividSeats route, but something told me to wait. I turned to the Green Day Community boards hoping someone would somehow have an extra. Thanks to some communication and help from fellow GD fans, I met someone who had an extra and wanted to take me. I could hardly believe I had an in to one of the biggest shows of the year. I’m normally a very shy, private person, so it surprised even me that I agreed to go with someone I never met before. Just a year ago I probably would’ve refused and just wallow in my misery at home. But I’m glad I did it. I met some great GD fans and hopefully, made a new friend in the process.

On to the show. I didn’t check out Dog Party prior to the concert, so I didn’t know what to expect. I actually really liked them. They have that kickass, slacker punk rock sound that fits well for a Green Day show. They were much better than 2013 openers Best Coast. I especially enjoyed their slow-burning cover of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.” But I was impatient and ready to see Billie and crew! Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long for them to hop on stage. But before Green Day made an appearance, it was time for the massive “Bohemian Rhapsody” sing-along. This is still one of my favorite concert moments. It’s everyone banding together singing an epic song and enjoying themselves.

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Like with every show, the drunk bunny came out while “Blitzkrieg Bop” played in the background. After properly riling up the crowd, Green Day sauntered on stage. They kicked things off to a roar with “Know Your Enemy,” which took me by surprise. I was sure one of the new songs would open the show. Still, it was a great way to rally up the crowd and just a taste of what the next 2 hours were going to be. Of course “Bang Bang” and “Revolution Radio” followed, which got the crowd fired up. If you thought those songs were amazing on record, wait till you hear them live. Somehow the band puts more fire, energy, and drive behind them once they hit the stage. From there they launched into the obligatory songs: “Holiday,” “Longview,” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Though they played these on their last tour, they’re still a blast to hear live. All the songs are so much fun and hearing thousands of people sing “When masturbation lost its fun/you’re fucking lonely” is a rare treat. Even hearing Billie say “LIGHTS OUT!” during “Holiday” was exciting. He’s done it hundreds of times, but to fans it never gets old. We devour every precious minute the band is on that stage.

Green Day reach into their past material on this tour and it wasn’t any different in Chicago. Fans in the know properly freaked out when they launched into “Private Ale” from Kerplunk. They also churned out favorites “2000 Light Years Away” and “Christie Road,” which Billie started off soft and gentle before having the rest of the band join him. I was most excited to hear tracks like “Armatage Shanks” and “Scattered,” key tracks from “Nim-rad” as Billie pronounced it. But the moment where I knew something special was happening was “Hitchin’ a Ride.” Sure, it’s not a rare song in their setlist, but they didn’t play it last time in Chicago. So I freaked out. Billie extended the song with extra hoopin’ and hollering, begging the crowd to join him as Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt kept the steady beat. Billie proved to be a tease when he decided we weren’t cheering loud enough and turned his back on the crowd as if to say “I don’t want to play with you anymore!” Yeah, maybe it’s cheesy but I loved every minute of it.

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It always impresses what a great showman Billie is. Even if he was lying, he did everything to make sure Chicago was well loved, saying things like “We’ve been coming here since 1990!” and the city being the best – typical stage banter. But since it was such a huge weekend for our Cubs, he made sure to mention it and even said, “Looks like you finally killed that fucking goat.” At one point, someone threw a Cubs hat on stage. Billie knew what to do – he put it on and said, “I feel like this is pandering.” It may have been, but hey it worked.

The way Billie commands the crowd to sing “Hey-oh” or to “put those fucking hands in the air!” it’s like being in church. When you hear the sweet opening chords to “Burnout” or “Basket Case” you lose a part of yourself. Your mind, body, and spirit are taken by the music and the amazing band on stage. This was proven by countless sing-alongs, with the most emotional being “Still Breathing.” Billie introduced the song by saying “Sometimes you end up going to survival mode in hard times. But the great thing about survival mode, is you survive. This song’s for you.” From there, the entire venue sang the song back to him as he smiled and looked on.

The crowd exploded during cuts like “St. Jimmy,” “She,” and “When I Come Around,” where Billie handed off guitar duties to one lucky fan, who kicked major ass. They also pulled out “Youngblood” from the new album, which was an unexpected treat to hear live. Then, of course, came “King for a Day.” This is now a Green Day live staple and it’s never dull. They may pull the same silly costumes, though this time BJA sported a cute captain’s hat while Mike wore his own mask, the same sax solos, and same random song covers, but you can’t deny how much fun it is. Jason Freese killed it on the sax, while Billie joined him on kazoo, but the best was the impromptu “Carless Whisper” solo. Before launching into “Shout” Billie laid on the floor, as usual, and talked about how everyone needs a little love. The breakdown included brief covers of “Hey Jude” and “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction).” At one point Billie said “Now you’re going to adopt me. My new home is Chicago.” He probably says the same thing in every city, but it was hard not to go crazy at that moment.

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Green Day kept up the non-stop energy with “Forever Now,” which saw Billie smash his guitar, “American Idiot,” and the epic “Jesus Of Suburbia.” Hearing those songs live with more vigor and venom than the recording never gets old. For the last encore, Billie slowed things down with “Ordinary World” mixed with “Good Riddance,” which pleased the hell out of me. In 2013, they passed over this song in favor of “Brutal Love,” which is great, but it’s awesome to hear such an iconic song live. Afterward, the band signed off with Tre and Mike sporting their own masks and tossing some gifts into the crowd. It was sad to see them go, but it was on to the next city for the band.

Green Day is a sheer force of energy live. They feed off the vibes of the crowd and give it back to them one thousand percent. Watching them play leaves me awestruck. When I wasn’t singing or dancing, I just looked at how hard these guys play. Billie attacks his guitar to the point where it seems like he’s losing control. Tre hits the drums with so much force it’s like he’s calling on the thunder gods. And Mike plays the bass like a beast. Plus, I enjoyed watching his faces and kicking his feet in the air while playing. And damn, can those guys get height while jumping. Seeing the pictures of them frozen in the air makes you wonder how the hell they got so high. Their shows are one big fucking party. In between songs, like “Letterbomb,” Billie stopped to say “We are all alive tonight!” and made a pact with the crowd to push out the negativity of the world. It was clear the band wanted to have a good time and made sure the crowd had fun as well. They somehow managed to top themselves to put on an unbelievable and intimate show. There was no pyro, special effects, screens, or stage stunts. Instead, it was just us, Green Day, and the music. And it made for something special.

Thank you, Green Day, for being an incredible band.

Revolution Radio – Green Day

Release Year: 2016

Rating: 8.5/10

Everyone has to grow up sometimes, even some punks from Oakland. It can’t be fuck the man and rebel, rebel, rebel all the time. Sometimes you need to stop to pay the bills. This is what Green Day explores on Revolution Radio. The band’s twelfth album finds them back on top after a trio of ill-received records. When news of this album first dropped, I was beyond ecstatic. My excitement only grew when they first single dropped. Now, RevRad is here and what’s my final verdict? Strap yourself in, this may be a long one.

When I initially listened to RevRad, I hate to say I was kind of disappointed. I wanted more raging, loud songs like “Bang Bang.” But once I got over the fact that the album isn’t just about being angry, I came to love it. Several songs took me by surprise, one of them being “Somewhere Now.” With its soft opening, quiet vocals, and reflective lyrics it gave me a Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen vibe. Not necessarily in sound, but in content. Billie Joe Armstrong croons about getting older and the painful compromises we have to make, especially if we were dead set on being rebellious at a younger age. It shows a mature Green Day, something fans got an unexpected taste of on Warning.

Bang Bang” and “Revolution Radio” are ragers for sure. They’re for those who like their Green Day loud, fast, and angry. After hearing the former song, I was so pumped for the album, something I hadn’t felt since “Know Your Enemy.” Even after hearing it so many times, the song still fills me with adrenaline and gets me jumping all over the place. “Revolution Radio” is a song meant for starting riots. With Armstrong’s cry of “Legalize the truth!” it’s easy to imagine millions of fans throwing their fists in the air. The track is inspired by recent events in Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement, so there’s the air of frustration, unrest, and a rally for change. It’s another awesome, high energy song that should get a huge response live.

Say Goodbye” is another strong track from the album. The heavy, tribal-esque percussion and the unrest that permeates the air makes it the most aggressive song on the LP. Also inspired by the protests in Ferguson and all the recent riots, there’s this air of anger and frustration in every element of the song. From the music to the lyrics, you can feel the need for change and people being fed up with how they’re treated. Despite this, Armstrong manages to sound coy and playful as he sings “Say goodbye to the ones that we love/goodbye to the ones that we love.” And for reasons I can’t explain it’s so satisfying when he sings “Oh lord/have mercy on my soul.” It’s a back to basics, “we’re fucking angry and you’re gonna hear about it” song for Green Day, making one of the most satisfying.

Changing things completely is “Outlaws.” This song had to grow on me a bit. At first, I didn’t like the slow nature of the track. But now, I appreciate its dreamlike quality – it fits the nostalgic tone of the song. The only thing I still don’t like about the track is the opening. The distorted riff is jarring and doesn’t fit the flow of the rest of the song at all. Aside from that, the song is a bittersweet reflective look on the band’s youthful rebellion. Though it’s a ballad, which Green Day excels at, there’s still this fire and edge to it, especially during the bridge. This keeps the song from getting dull and boring. It’s actually pretty and kind of heartbreaking. If you’re the right age, it’ll make you think about your youth and it might form a lump in your throat.

Bouncing off the Wall” seems like a throwaway at first, but it’s just mindless fun. There’s this great upbeat energy to the track that makes you want to dance. It’s a nice break from the serious themes happening on the album. It actually sounds like a leftover from the Foxboro Hot Tubs. But this is where we start to hear the questionable lyrics on the album: “Chasing fireflies and zeroes.” This one still leaves my head scratching. These weird lyrics pop up in other songs, like the energetic and frantic “Too Dumb to Die:” “I feel like a cello/lost somewhere over the rainbow.” Sometimes the lyrics sound cool, but don’t make much sense. This album is not necessarily Armstrong’s finest when it comes to writing. But it doesn’t make me like the songs any less. I don’t always need my music to have substance, so I don’t mind the weird lyrics. Sometimes they just stick out and make you pause.

Still Breathing” is classic Green Day all the way. Great energy, hard guitars, and a hook made for sing-alongs. The way Armstrong sings out its positive message of coming out the other side of hard times is uplifting. Hearing that moment when he sings “Cause I’m still breathing” and the music falls away for a moment before the guitars explode, gives you chills. It makes you want to jump up and shout along with him. This will be a great crowd pleaser at shows. While “Youngblood” is good, it can be forgettable. It’s one I often don’t remember. It’s still really satisfying and catchy. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward, standard Green Day track. The most memorable about the track is the line “Swear to god/and I’m not even superstitious.” Armstrong says so much about religion in that one lyric.

I’ve already mentioned “Too Dumb to Die,” which starts with this great lazy, sleepy groove before waking up with an explosion of guitars and drums. Personally, this song speaks to me; it’s about having a dream you don’t let go of even though others think you should, something I still relate to. Unfortunately, the weakest song on the album is “Troubled Times.” It’s not memorable, the hook is repetitive and lazy, and it’s kind of dull. The message is genuine and well meaning but executed in a bland manner. For Green Day, it’s a pretty generic song.

It’s hard to pick a favorite on this album, but currently, it’s “Forever Now.” It has that same larger than life feeling as their other lengthy songs, like “Jesus of Suburbia.” Though not as epic as that track, it’s a sheer force of driving energy and non-stop frenzy. The track is divided into three different acts that address the different themes of the album: getting older, being unhappy with the world, and acceptance. Coming back to lyrics, this song has one of the best lines of the entire album: “if this is what you call the good life/I want a better way to die.” Armstrong says how he feels about the world in this one line; it says so much in so little.

As the song continues, everything keeps building on top of each other getting more intense until we get to the “Somewhere Now” reprisal. Hearing the song again, the lyrics really hit home, especially the line “I’m heading late for somewhere now/I don’t want to be.” Armstrong laments giving up aspects of his life for something he didn’t think he’d be doing. Isn’t that something we can all relate to? It’s a thought-provoking way to end this awesome song.

The closing song “Ordinary World” is bare bones, yet beautiful. Though I don’t think it’s the proper closing song, that would be “Forever Now,” its simplicity and soothing nature makes it stand out. The light music has a lullaby quality to it, which is nice from the onslaught of anger, guitars, and fury from the other tracks. There’s also a somber tone to it; Armstrong wonders about his place in the world and similar to the other tracks, there’s a sense of reflection to it. It’s a great song, yet feels out of place on the album. It seems like it was only included due to the movie being released shortly after the LP.

Revolution Radio wasn’t what I expected, but that’s part of the reason I like it so much. It may not live up to some of the band’s other albums, but it’s more focused and has more substance than their previous efforts. Some of the songs have spotty lyrics, not showing off Billie’s writing talent, but at least it never crosses into cringe territory. The songs here seem to represent the different styles the band has done over the years. There’s the anger of American Idiot, the party vibe of the Trilogy, the political air of 21st Century Breakdown, and the maturity of Warning. They may not hit certain political themes as hard as they could, but it’s nice that the record doesn’t focus solely on these issues. Rather they spend most of it reflecting on their youth and getting older. But as the songs here show, just because their older doesn’t mean they have to behave.