¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! – Review

Back to basics : Green Day in vintage-mode

We started with something so simple. But it still turned into madness. I don’t know any other way to do it. That’s just Green Day

Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer/ guitarist

If you have ever wondered how the collision of sentimental Beatles, rock’n’roll Elvis, and high-energy AC/DC sounded like, the latest Green Day trilogy is sure to satisfy the taste buds of vintage rock music enthusiasts. After cementing their status as one of today’s most critically-acclaimed mainstream pop-rock powerhouse with the commercial successes of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, the band’s release of ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! is more or less a directive response towards critics who have called for a return of the Dookie days, as described by Rob Cavallo, long time producer, as a move to go back to the simplicity of Dookie.

We were just thinking of making a power-pop record – dirtier, back to basics.

Mike Dirnt, bassist

Unlike American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, the three following sequels would favor long-time Green Day fans as it features a wider spectrum of sounds spanning from Kerplunk to Nimrod to Foxboro Hot Tubs. If you are expecting sloppy power-pop ballads like ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ and ’21 Guns’, then rest-assured that you would be disappointed because the band have stepped up in the sentimental department with a host of amazing, powerful vocal rock ballads.

An illustrious career: 65 million records sold and five grammies won is not going to halt the Calfironia-based punk rockers from coming out with more and more daring materials.

An illustrious career: 65 million records sold and five grammies won is not going to halt the Calfironia-based punk rockers from coming out with more and more daring materials.

I would talk about my perception towards each album in general and discuss five selective tracks from each album which has caught my attention the most, altogether with a personal rating.

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Among the three albums, ¡Uno! has arguably the catchiest tunes with pure mid/ high tempo rustic old school sounds, with the slight exception of ‘Kill the DJ’ which sounds a little more new-age. Every track on the album holds nothing back but to give you the same level of energy on how you would imagine a Green Day record to be, but with more sought-after, crunchier guitar riffs and solos from how they performed them on Foxboro Hot Tubs. If you enjoy FHT, there’s no reason for you to dislike this album. 9/10

1. Let Yourself Go

This song really defines who Green Day are in terms of writing their music; that in-your-face attitude of not giving a care on what people think vibe which we grew to get attached with over the years. For me, this is one of those songs which can easily evolve into a rock festival-chant anthem; and to all the revile targeted at them for losing their ‘punk’, be prepared to be wronged.

2.  Fell For You 

These power-pop love ballads have been a missing element from their previous couple of albums; I’m talking about ‘Christie Road’, ‘2000 Light Years Away’ sort-of material which have left us Green Day followers yearning as to what has happened. Nevertheless, it sure is a pleasure to welcome back so many of these numbers back in the new releases, especially with this foot-tapping track. Hopeless romantics reading this, don’t you agree?

3. Sweet 16

Another one of many up-tempo love ballads that are featured in this trilogy, ‘Sweet 16’ is the type of song which can easily blend in as the perfect high-school prom song and successfully get young teenagers to fall in love. I reckon the next teenage romantic chick-flick to feature this song as a soundtrack and it will seamlessly fit like a glove.

4. Kill the DJ

I wouldn’t label this my favorite Green Day song of all time, but I do commend the effort put into trying to add a new funkier twist to keep up with modern MTV dance-rock popularity, while still being able to sound like themselves. Many bands turn out producing disastrous records for trying to do so and I think Green Day managed to pull it off. This is probably the best music video coming out from ¡Uno!, however the uncensored version has been removed from Youtube.

5. Oh Love

The best Billboard charting song from the album, ‘Oh Love’ is a strip-down, purely organic old-school rock’n’roll anthem in which serves as the perfect introductory single-release to announce the return of the punk rock trio (quartet, with Jason White now named as an official member) to the pop-radio music scene. In a year with the likes of the Foo Fighters and the Kings of Leon being relatively quiet, rock music have been reduced to synthetic-electronic nightclub tracks, and the arrival of ‘Oh Love’ is fittingly a breath of fresh air. I just wished that ‘Stay The Night’ would be the epilogue of ¡Uno! instead of this one.

iDos!

¡Dos! is definitely the heavier of the three albums, with many new and different sounds we have yet to hear from Green Day. I can associate some of the songs from the album as a come-together of new-age experimental and modern indie rock, which caught me a little off-guard, while the rest is a continuation of the rhythmic crunch of ¡Uno! amid a darker, gloomier feeling. If critical at all, this would probably be the album that critics have most to say, a situation in which you would either love or hate. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to ¡Dos!, I am just uncertain as to whether it will achieve much commercial success. 7/10

1. Nightlife (ft. Lady Cobra)

As far as I can remember, this is their first collaboration since U2; and the first collaboration featured on any of their albums. With that aside, I think the bluesy-lounge ambient together with Lady Cobra’s rap is the first I’ve heard the group produced outside the rock genre circle, which is another milestone to show the extent of experimentation Green Day are willing to take, doing something similarly risky with ‘Peacemaker’ on 21st Century Breakdown; though it would be very interesting to hear how they would sound with this song live.

2. Lazy Bones

I like the fact that this could potentially be a nice mash-up with American Idiot’s ‘Give Me Novacaine’. Agree or not, I think it is a great song to listen to seek distress. Also, I really think some of the introduction riffs on this album, especially on this song have been very indie-rock influenced.

3. Amy

The single has plainly surprised me the most for I could have deftly mistaken it for an Arctic Monkey’s record, where even the vocal styles share bits of resemblances. Despite the similarities, I think this is hands down the best single from the album, and I believe if it were to receive some radio airplay, will make it to become one of the band’s biggest hits coming out from the trilogy. I may not be able to reason in words, but it has this very distinctive pop-radio quality that exposes the often overlooked tender vocal prowess of Billie Joe. Little did I know when I made a quick Google that it was described to be an Amy Winehouse tribute as published by the Rolling Stones during an interview with the band back in July.

4. Stray Heart

Being the first single, it has possibly the more entertaining music video as compared with the ones on ¡Uno!, although to some extent I feel it is more literal than the usual Green Day music video standards. Another song with a nice catchy bass line; kudos to Mike Dirnt for constantly coming up with melodious high-trebled bass riffs.

5. Fxxk Time

I’ve never heard Green Day done anything with distorted blues guitar riffs before, probably the reason apart from its title that has captured my attention. Nonetheless, most parts of the song showcased a strong relation with 60s dance-rock, where I can picture the band recording this either drunk or high on substance. Definitely not radio-friendly, but very vintage.

iTré!

As per described by Armstrong, the album is to ‘clean up the mess’ from the effects of the after-party from ¡Uno! and ¡Dos!, which explains the emotional output by most of the album’s tracks. What you get on ¡Tré! is a much more mature composition in terms of lyrical meanings and the overall sound – that it holds a strong sensitivity into accepting that Green Day have developed a long way from the older, pop-punk days. What I like about this is that you get to foresee the sort of path that the group might venture into in the long run; that ‘Geek Stink Breath’ and ‘The Grouch’ are all but a golden past of Green Day’s legacy, allowing fans to embrace the fact that the band is growing old with them. 10/10

1. Brutal Love

This is an amazingly-composed apposite to the tailpiece of ¡Dos!, allowing a clear indication that it is a prolongation of the experiences from the predecessor album. Again, this is really a showpiece to remind people that Billie Joe over the years, have developed a sense of age not only in song-writing, but his vocal ability as well. What you will get to hear is an expansive range which is of a rarity coming out from the vocal chords of Armstrong. I welcome the idea of a duet performance together with someone of great rock vocal calibre who can compliment such a powerful piece. Jon Bon Jovi perhaps?

2. Drama Queen

This is the type of song that fits the bill of coming in-between the styles of post-American Idiot and Foxboro Hot Tubs, bridging the gap of somewhere between dim somberness and drunken indulgence. The semi-acoustic ballad is in all likelihood the one acoustic-guitar driven song that I would remember the most from ¡Tré!. It is interesting to point out how Green Day seem to have an absorbing selection of acoustic songs, where ‘Misery’, ‘Macy’s Day Parade’, ‘Warning’, ‘Good Riddance’, ‘Give Me Novacaine’, ‘Peacemaker’ and now with ‘Drama Queen’ adding to the list just goes to show the creativity and versatility Green Day seem to possess into making their music; unlike the many artists I know, they are no one-trick pony, especially in the acoustic sector.

3. X-Kid

The husky vintage feel towards the progression of the song kind of evoke a congruity with ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’ by the Stereophonics. Agree or not, it has to be said that the lyrics is a pretty obvious statement put out by Armstrong to not admitting that they have neither turned into adults, nor stay as kids anymore, therefore, X-Kid, which I feel has been the intention of the entire album. And damn straight they have done that part well through this one.

4. 99 Revolutions

Just as when you thought they are going to nail the final hammer onto rock operas and politically-charged anthems, 99 Revolutions emerge in the wake of the Occupy Oakland protests last fall. As explained by Armstrong as a ‘political update’ from WarningAmerican Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, it seems like the boys are not ready to lay political-awareness in their music to rest – just yet. Unlike the audacious aggressions featured in the previous albums, this one has that ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! twist to it, offering something different to the table.

5. The Forgotten

A lot has been said about this one, being featured on the ” Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 2″ soundtrack, on whether it is the most appropriate representation of Green Day, especially on one of the highest-grossing films of 2012. It is easy to dislike this song for being associated to Twilight, but many decent Twilight soundtracks have featured some of today’s best rock acts such as Muse and Linkin Park, so do not be disheartened. On the subject of it being the conclusion to the ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! trilogy, I think it is an absolute fitting sincerity to declare that Green Day have grown up, so should we. It tells us to stop whining about bringing back Dookie – that is a proud part their history now. Period.

Personally, this has been the boldest move that Green Day has made -yet. I mean releasing three albums of pure, straight-up old school pop-rock, consisting merely drums, bass, two guitars and vocals, at an era of music which sees the return of heavy-electronics is a giant gamble to maintain their mainstream relevance. But well, the former Sweet Children have enjoyed so much success pleasing commercialism with the past couple of albums, maybe it’s time to just enjoy the freedom of getting to engage the honest side of Green Day amidst all this vast revolving chaos of genré-switching, money-seeking artists, that we Green Day fans have the privilege to really know our heroes a little better through this. I say screw the number of award-nominations, the record-sales, the radio airplay, I am just contented into listening to the shear joy and pain coming out from a legendary rock band- that is the ultimate satisfaction.

Fun like this should be served straight. No chaser.

Tré Cool , drummer

Losing the eyeliner : a fresh new rockstar image

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