Friday, 20 November 2020

Kerplunk - Green Day Discography Review

Apologies for the long gap between this and the last Green Day review and from my blog in general. Back in July, I reviewed the 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours compilation as the beginning of my series of album reviews of Green Day’s discography. You can read that review [here] if you haven’t read it yet. In this entry, I will review their second album Kerplunk! Like 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, I always consider this one of their lesser works and thus, I didn’t listen to this album as much as I did a lot of other Green Day albums. For the purposes of this review, I listened to this album multiple times in order to learn more about the different songs on this album; from the lyrical content to the instrumentation and the vocals. However, I am familiar with the album after years of listening to the band’s discography. 

If you want to read my review of 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours before you read this one, you can click here

In this review, I will discuss all the songs that appear on the album and I will also briefly touch on the Sweet Children EP which was originally released prior to this album in 1990 but was included on the CD and cassette versions of the album. Previously, I considered this album to be similar to the previous material from the band but of a higher quality and closer to the rest of the songs that the band would release later on, and while that opinion remains somewhat accurate to what I think now, I do have some new thoughts on the album. Once again, I will be reviewing this album based on its lyrical content and musical quality of each song.

Lyrical Content

Billie Joe’s lyric writing qualities improved on this album. Billie wrote a lot less love songs about girls on this record and more about growing up and viewing life from a different perspective and these songs are written more maturely than songs like 16 from the previous album. These tracks include the likes One of My Lies where Billie reflects on his changing view of life as he becomes older and realises that the world doesn’t circle around him and, Android where Billie ponders about the future & whether he will still be around and how time “passes by like lightning”.

The lyric writing on Christie Road feels nostalgic, as Billie writes about this place where he would go to relax and forget about his worries. Welcome to Paradise also sees Billie writing about his difficulties in moving out and living alone.

There are still a few love songs in this album but these tracks are fewer, which results in the lyrical content feeling less repetitive, and better written. Tracks like 2000 Light Years Away and 80 are both about his now-wife Adrienne and are closer in sound and lyrical content to the type of Green Day love songs that we would hear later on in their career. One for the Razorbacks is another well written love song about a different girl. Words I Might Have Ate is another love song, though it’s not clear who the song is about and closes out the album. A song like Private Ale sounds more reminiscent of the love songs from 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, not as well written. Billie’s writing isn’t at its best here, but it’s certainly taken a step up from his previous works.

Musical Quality

The musical quality of this album generally is better than on the previous compilation. Mike’s bass work is less sloppy and this album has some really great standout basslines. John Kiffmeyer has also been replaced by Tré Cool, who would remain with the band until present. Tré Cool has some great work on this album. Billie Joe also has some good standout moments with his guitar playing, but this album has far less guitar solos that standout than 1,039.

Who Wrote Holden Caulfield and 80 are solid examples of good catchy Green Day songs where the band works well together. The guitar, bass and drum work are all great in these songs. Mike has some particular highlights on the album as well such as 80 and No One Knows. One of Mike’s most well known basslines comes from this album too; Welcome to Paradise which features a brilliant bass solo from Mike, which would also make an appearance on Dookie. The bass on Dominated Love Slave also sounds quite nice despite being a weak track overall.

Billie does have some notable highlights too which include guitar solos on One for the Razorbacks, Dominated Love Slave and Who Wrote Holden Caulfield. Other guitar highlights include One of My Lies and 80. The acoustic guitar on Words I Might Have Ate is also a nice change of pace from the rest of the album.

Tré’s first appearance isn’t his best as he still needs to find his place in the band at this stage but he does have some excellent highlights on this idea including Who Wrote Holden Caulfield, One of My Lies and 80 and shows that he’s a better fit for the band than John Kiffmeyer from the previous releases. The instrumentation overall on the album is pretty great, even outside of the highlights mentioned. This album contains some of their catchiest songs to date including 2000 Light Years Away; a song that sounds like it could’ve been a hit single if it were released on Dookie as well as Who Wrote Holden Caulfield which contains one of the hookiest choruses Green Day has released. Welcome to Paradise is also well known as being one of Green Day’s biggest hits; although it’s the version that appears on Dookie that is most well-known. The version of the song that appears on Kerplunk isn’t quite as good, suffering from the lower production of the album and a weaker vocal delivery from Billie. Christie Road is another favourite where the band works well together. The bridge and outro of that song is also a really nice highlight of the song.

Weaker tracks on the album include Private Ale, which seems more lacking in both instrumentation and lyrical content, as well as Dominated Love Slave which despite being a more comedic track doesn’t sound too good due to Tré’s vocals which sound a fair bit weaker than Billie’s vocals throughout the rest of the album. Additionally, the humour of the track wares off after a couple listens resulting in the track lacking replayability, and you’ll likely find yourself skipping the track. Words I Might Have Ate was a track that I used to consider a favourite from this album; however now I don’t consider it a favourite but more of the middle of the road tracks. Definitely not a bad track however, as it is quite catchy and nice to listen to, and a nice track to close the record with.

Billie’s vocals on this album are still not quite at the level of later releases. Again, like with their prior release, the production can explain this partially. Despite this, the vocals here are definitely not bad; far from it and the vocals here are arguably better than on 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. Billie’s vocals along with Mike’s backing vocals also work well on this album; particularly on the track No One Knows.

Conclusion

Overall, I’d give Kerplunk a 7/10. Like its predecessor, it has some glaring issues and while a year ago, I would’ve said Kerplunk is the better album, at present I would say there’s little difference between the two releases. Despite some better playing from the band overall; the songs aren’t that much better to listen to as a whole and my opinion on this album hasn’t really changed all that much at all; especially compared to 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours where my opinion has changed quite a bit more. I would be more confident in saying Kerplunk is the better release if it weren’t for a couple of weaker tracks. But just like with the prior release, I can say that the production issues and the fact that the band are still young and inexperienced are factors that account for the album’s rough edges. Just like the last release, I wouldn't recommend starting with this album if you're new to Green Day.

Sweet Children EP

The EP Sweet Children is also something that I’d like to briefly discuss on this review; as I haven’t discussed it yet and the EP appears on the Kerplunk CD and cassette as bonus tracks; as well as on digital releases later on i.e. Spotify. This EP, originally released after 39/Smooth and the Slappy and 1000 Hours Eps but before the 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours compilation; comprised of four tracks. The titular track; Sweet Children, Best Thing in Town, Strangeland and a cover of the song My Generation by The Who.

Sweet Children is a fairly average song. It’s below Green Day’s usual standard though at the time of release; it was around what you’d expect from them. Not a great track but not an awful track and has some catchiness to it. Best Thing in Town is also fairly average; though its guitar solo is a highlight. Strangeland is very similar sounding to the prior track and also has a good guitar solo too but I would say Strangeland is slightly weaker. This song’s vocals are also near inaudible, meaning I can’t understand the lyrics without looking them up. The lyrical content on these songs is also pretty uninteresting overall and the EP overall is one of the weakest parts of Green Day’s discography. The cover of My Generation isn’t much of a highlight either. I would give the EP a light 6/10. Not too much enjoyment to be had here but far from being unlistenable. 

Stay tuned for the next discography review on Dookie! Follow me on twitter for updates on the blog. Click here to read my previous review on 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours

Thursday, 19 November 2020

The Controversial International Men's Day

Today is International Men's Day and I've seen a lot of hot takes on social media today. International Men’s Day, as its name would suggest, is a day for the celebration of men and what men have done. This can be a good time to discuss issues relating to men such as toxic masculinity and mental health issues, which men disproportionately experience.

I am a part of many leftist communities, communities which acknowledge the privilege that men have and communities which also makes jokes about men. However, despite this, I am truly disgusted by some of the blatant misandry coming from certain people who claim to be feminists who suggest that International Men’s Day is an attack on women and that they don’t deserve a day since men oppress women and “every other day” is International Men’s Day.

These blatant attacks are not only hateful to the many good men that exist in today’s world but it also has classist, racist, homophobic and transphobic tendencies and displays their ignorance in the concept of intersectionality. What these “feminists” don’t realise is that poor men, men of colour, gay men and trans men have their own issues and face their own forms of oppression too. Additionally, these attacks only make women and feminism look bad which only defeats the purpose of their “pro-women” aims of degrading men. Non-binary people are also harmed by these attacks on men. The attacks on men also discounts the countless male allies who support the rights of women and feminist causes. International Men’s Day should be used to celebrate all these men who support the rights of women and minorities and celebrate and advocate for the men who face their own issues of bigotry, depression and more.

These “activists” who belittle men as a group without acknowledging the good that men have done and continue to do are the real bigots. There are millions of men who work hard to provide for their families, for their communities and for their countries. These are the people who we should be advocating for on this day. All of these radicals only help to radicalise people to the far right by making leftist and progressive movements look like crazy man-hating groups, and we as lefties should work to reject these ideas from leftist circles. Also, for any guys reading: Remember it's not unmanly to show emotion, to express yourself or to ask for help

Monday, 20 July 2020

1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours - Green Day Discography Review


I have always considered 39/Smooth (or 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours) to be Green Day’s weakest offering. I never hated the album but there were certain qualities of the album that made me consider it lesser than the other albums. However, this album has also been the album I listened to the least out of all of their albums and for this review, I listened to the album several times and tried to learn more about the album, the song meanings and the lyrical content as well as the instrumental qualities of each song. Also keep in mind, this is just my opinion and I don't claim to be an expert or a music critic.

This compilation album contains the earliest of Green Day’s material, namely 39/Smooth, the EPs Slappy and 1000 Hours and the song I Want To Be Alone. For the purposes of this review, I will discuss each song, detailing the lyrical content and musical qualities of the songs. In general, this album suffers from some lacking lyrical content and poor production quality but this can be overlooked due to this being their earliest material and the band being with the independent record label Lookout Records. Additionally, this material was recorded before Tré Cool joined the band and John Kiffmeyer’s drumming on this album is definitely lacking. Billie Joe and Mike do a great job at playing their respective instruments on this album despite it being their earliest recordings.

Lyrical Content

The lyrical content is quite poor when compared to most Green Day albums. A lot of the songs are about girls or “love” (literally more than half the compilation) and these love songs are not particularly well written and the album gets repetitive with this lyrical content. There are multiple mentions of being friends with girls on this album, evidently Billie appears to have some fear of the friendzone on this album. There are also multiple mentions of girls that already have boyfriends too. This repetitive nature of these songs does get old after a while. Some songs that are not about girls also have references to girls (i.e. Disappearing Boy). The songs about love and girls get particularly tiresome towards the end with the 1000 Hours EP, which features four songs, all of which are about girls.

There is some cheesiness to all the songs on the 1000 Hours EP; 1000 Hours, Dry Ice, Only of You, The One I Want. But I think its title track is the biggest culprit of this. The song 1000 Hours is a song which I find especially cheesy with the lyrical content and overall one of Green Day’s weakest songs to date. In the second verse, Billie also tries to add 1000 Hours into the lyrics even though it obviously doesn’t fit, in the line “Oh, so softly, hands flowing down my back, 1,000 hours, I’ll never leave”.
There are other songs which aren’t about girls. Songs like Disappearing Boy and I Want To Be Alone deal with being an introvert, but neither of these songs really say anything interesting. The latter song in particular as its lyrics consists of a single verse and chorus repeated three times. It’s also worth noting the irony of the song I Want To Be Alone considering most of the album is talking about how Billie wants to be with a girl i.e. the opposite of being alone. I Was There and 16 are more reflective, looking back at the past of the writers. The former of those songs, I Was There was written by Kiffmeyer rather than Armstrong. These songs can be seen as relatable as everybody reflects on their past but neither songs say anything meaningful or interesting. The song Rest appears to be about some “angel” but the lyrics again don’t say anything interesting either and I wouldn’t be surprised if this angel refers to some girl.

Some of the more interesting tracks lyrically are probably 409 in Your Coffeemaker, Green Day and Why Do You Want Him. In 409, Billie talks about his experiences in school and dropping out and points out some possible flaws in the education system including the idea that teens are brainwashed to think they’re lazy. Why Do You Want Him seems to be about his mother dating another man after the death of Billie’s father. The song Green Day is about smoking weed, something I’ve never done, but it seems that Billie does a good job at describing what I’d imagine it’s like to be high and this song does have glimpses of the genius lyric writing that we would eventually see in Billie.
The best song lyrically in this album would probably be Road to Acceptance. This is a song about acceptance, confusion, adolescence and adolescent confusion. Here, we see that Billie has always been a progressive person, an anti-racist person as he calls out the “blind hatred” he sees around him and says that we all “feel the same pain”. Billie obviously had a lot more growing to do in terms of lyric writing but we see glimpses of the Billie that we’d see in later albums

Musical Quality

Even though this album isn’t his best performance, Mike has some great basslines on here and evidently, has been a great bassist since the early days. Some of his highlights include the track Green Day, Road to Acceptance and Knowledge but his bass is audible and nice to listen to throughout the whole album. Billie’s guitar work is also great here, with some great guitar solos throughout, even on some of the lesser tracks. It could be argued that The Judge’s Daughter is Billie’s best guitar solo in his career. As noted before, Kiffmeyer’s drumming isn’t stellar and there are some flaws in the instrumentation on this album, compared to their other albums, largely because of the production of the album. But overall the band works well together on this album and these flaws can be ignored partially.

Billie’s vocals sound different in this album than on their later albums. This can partially be explained by the low production of this album. But even when you compare his vocals between this and Kerplunk, which also suffered from the lack of major label production, you can notice some difference between the two albums. Billie’s vocals here aren’t the same as what you’d expect after hearing all of Green Day’s greatest hits but despite being different, they’re not bad here at all. And this album is worth a listen every once in a while to hear a different kind of Billie. Mike’s backing vocals also appear to be a lot louder at parts on this album to the point where he feels more like a co-lead vocalist at points on the album. The song Rest shows great vocal harmonisation between Billie and Mike. Road to Acceptance is also interesting vocally, with a unique vocal delivery from Billie on the opening verses. Why Do You Want Him is a track which fall flat vocally compared to most of the other tracks.

Some of the songs on this thing are fan favourites and I never really understood why. At the Library and Going to Pasalacqua are considered by many to be the best of the album. I don’t really know why. They’re decent tracks, definitely not the worst but my favourites on this compilation are often tracks which get ignored and some tracks I didn’t appreciate until recently when I started listening to the album for this review. Rest is also a song which I often see in “Worst Green Day songs” lists and again, I don’t know why. It’s not one of their best songs, not even one of their better slower tracks, but I’d consider it a decent highlight of the album.

Conclusion

I have always considered this album to be my least favourite. But after going more in depth on the album and listening to it multiple times, and considering their most recent album (spoilers), I’m much less confident in saying that this is my least favourite of Green Day’s album. Yes, there are a number of flaws but many of these flaws were out of the band’s control or can be attributed to the band’s youth. They were young, not yet the best at their respective roles in the band and they lacked legendary drummer Tré Cool. The numerous cheesy songs about girls and love can be overlooked and even some of the worse songs on the album have pretty good qualities, including good guitar solos from Billie. The compilation is quite long, at 56 minutes and you may not want to listen to the entire thing altogether. You could listen to the 39/Smooth album on its own or the two EPs together. Even though it has its flaws, there aren’t any tracks on here that I would say to outright avoid and there are some genuinely pretty great tracks. Some of my favourites include Road to Acceptance, Green Day, Disappearing Boy, Rest, Knowledge and Paper Lanterns. 1000 Hours is probably the weakest part of the compilation (despite having some great solos) but there’s no tracks here that I’d consider poor outside of maybe the track 1000 Hours. Previously, I would’ve considered this album to be about a 6/10. After exploring this album more thoroughly for this review, I think I would probably consider this album to be a 7/10. There are many aspects of this album I previously didn’t appreciate and despite a few glaring issues, it’s definitely worth at least a listen. I wouldn't recommend starting with this album if you're new to Green Day.

Stay tuned for the next discography review on Kerplunk! Follow me on twitter for updates on the blog

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Green Day Discography Reviews!


Green Day has been my favourite band for many years. I’ve listened to all their albums many times and some of those albums are among my favourite albums of all times. I intend to make a review for all of Green Day albums where I explore the musical, lyrical and vocal quality of these albums. These reviews will include several listens to said albums prior to the review. I must note that I am not an expert on music but I am interested in learning more about these songs which I’ve heard many times before by going more in depth on these songs. Some of their albums I’m not too fond of or they’re albums I like but have certain issues with which lessen the experiences. These issues I will go over in my reviews

I intend to write these reviews in the order they were released, here is the order: 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, Kerplunk, Dookie, Insomniac, Nimrod, Warning, International Superhits, Shenanigans, Money Money 2020, American Idiot, Stop, Drop & Roll, 21st Century Breakdown, Uno, Dos, Tré, Demolicious, Revolution Radio, God’s Favorite Band, Love is For Losers, Father of All Motherfuckers. This includes all of their studio albums, their two greatest hits albums and their B-sides album. So far, I have already given multiple listens to 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. 

Stay tuned for this first review. If you want updates on this blog, follow me on twitter

UPDATE 20/07/2020 - Click here to see my review for 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours

UPDATE 20/11/2020 - Click here to see my review for Kerplunk

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Black Lives Matter and the Justification of Police Brutality


So there has been a lot of protesting happening recently after the murder of George Floyd. I’m guessing that black people and their allies are sick of the inhumane actions taken by the police and by racists and we’ve seen a response to this killing like no other. While Black Lives Matter have been protesting the senseless killing of black people for many years, this time they have received way more attention on social media due to the insane amount of protesting and rioting that has occurred recently. I am in full support of Black Lives Matter and the protesters and I am in full support of police reform in the United States. I’m not American, nor do I live in America but I am supportive of these things. I am not however, supportive of the headasses that do everything they can to justify the death of black people, to defend evil cops and to minimise the inequalities and discrimination faced by black people all over the world.

All Lives Matter?
One group that infuriates me greatly are the All Lives Matter people. Many of you have probably seen these morons undermine the Black Lives Matter movement by saying that “All Lives Matter”, as if that is contrary to what the Black Lives Matter movement claims. Of course, I probably don’t need to explain to you why this argument is ridiculous but this comic by Kris Straub does a great job at explaining the absurdity of All Lives Matter using his analogy of burning houses. This same argument can also be used against people using the White Lives Matter phrase too. Many people who use these arguments are being insincere and know that the BLM movement isn’t making the claim that not all lives matter but there are people who don’t understand why the saying “All Lives Matter” is patently ridiculous.

Justifying Murder by Cops
Another group that really gets on my nerves are the ones who will do anything to justify the killing of George Floyd and other black people by immoral cops. Some have claimed that it wasn’t the cop with his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes that killed him but it was the fact that he had high blood pressure, a heart disease or Covid-19 that resulted in his death. This is also ridiculous for obvious reasons but as someone who has a significant respiratory illness and has had for my entire life, I would be extremely frustrated if a cop had done the same to me and my death was justified because of my illness. Cops are responsible if their actions result in the death of another human being. And anyone who tries to justify their behaviour is a scumbag.
            People will also try to justify the death of George Floyd by saying that he was a criminal. Not only does this not justify a cop murdering someone for no reason, but the reason for high crime rates among black people can largely be explained by socioeconomic factors. And the protesting of Floyd’s death is not about Floyd being an angel because he likely wasn’t. But it’s to bring global attention to the racial injustices of the police force and to hopefully bring about police reform and racial justice. Of course, Floyd isn’t the only black person who’s death has been justified. Ahmaud Arbery, whose death occurred weeks before Floyd’s has also has his death justified by his criminal record. Breonna Taylor is a black woman who was killed by cops while she was sleeping and her murder been totally ignored. The cops who murdered her have still not been arrested and are roaming freely.

Minimising the suffering of the oppressed
People try to minimise the murder of these black people and I have done so previously. I used to think of Black Lives Matter as being divisive and I have gone through an “anti-SJW” phase where I followed some content creators and watched some videos that would justify or minimise the oppression of disadvantaged groups including people of colour, women and LGBTQ+ members. But I have fairly recently observed the overwhelming good that groups like Black Lives Matter do and now I consider myself an ally of black people and the Black Lives Matter movement.

What can I do?
If you want to help black people and participate in making changes to create a more just society? Well there are a number of things you can do. Among these things are...
1) You can go out and protest. This option may not be available for everybody and a lot of people don't live in the US where the vast majority of protesting is going on
2) You can donate some of your money to black charities and BLM organisations. If you have a lot of money and are in a place of privilege, this is a great thing to do.
3) Watch Stream To Donate videos to support BLM for free! This is easy to do as long as you have an internet connection

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Welcome to My New Blog


Greetings and welcome to my blog. For those who do not know me, my name is Christian and in this blog, I intend to post about a variety of different topics ranging from music to video games as well as real world events and personal experiences. Basically, I’ll be writing about whatever I feel like writing about on this blog. There are a number of issues that are important to me that I will be writing on in the future.

Some of you may be wondering why I’ve decided to start this blog. There are a couple reasons. For one, I have just recently finished college and with the global pandemic currently going on, I have a lot of free time. Secondly, there are a lot of issues going on right now. and I have in the last couple of years gotten more interested in politics and social issues and I plan on writing about a lot of these real world issues in this blog. Issues going on right now like police brutality on black people in the United States are ones that I’m very concerned about and as someone with a pre-existing respiratory condition, the Covid-19 pandemic has altered my life in a way which has prevented me from leaving the house unless I have to.

Of course, my blog won’t be exclusively dealing with political events and important issues like these. I’ll also be writing a lot about things I enjoy like music, video games, movies and maybe even some TV shows. I’ll be writing about my opinions on these things, sort of like reviews, although I don’t consider myself to be an expert on any of these things. The music that I like is generally music within the rock genre. My favourite bands include Green Day, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance and Paramore but I do try to listen to other types of music from time to time. Movies I watch include superhero movies, action movies and sometimes comedies but I’m not a huge cinephile or a film critic. TV shows I watch generally tend to be comedy but I have been trying to get into some different shows too.

If you’re interested in any of the topics I’ve listed here, feel free to follow this blog and enjoy your time here. I will try to write at least once a week!