Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Review of Green Day's ¡Cuatro!

Hey everyone, Dana here. If you didn't catch my blog post last week, I reviewed Ylvis's song/music video of "What Does The Fox Say?" and it was a lot of fun reviewing; despite my dislike for it. Recently, I've been doing a lot of critiques and negative reviews over the past few months, so I think it's time to make a positive review. I haven't done a positive review since Joan Jett's new album, Unvarnished...and that was back in October! Well, here's a positive one, ladies and gentleman. I'm reviewing ¡Cuatro!, Green Day's documentary about the making of their triple album, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and Tré!
For the longest time, I wanted to review all three albums, but if I did that, this blog post would take two hours to read because I would be reviewing song by song, album by album. I would literally be boring my readers to death; I hated reading obnoxiously long essays and other required readings in high school and college, so I would never put anyone through what I went through. But couldn't I just do three separate blog posts? No way, that would be too predictable and too repetitive. I like a variety of topics, and I'm sure you would too. Alright, enough small talk. Let's dive into ¡Cuatro!

So, the film opens with a shot on the ocean...with Billie Joe Armstrong on a surfboard, with his voice over reflecting on what happened after the last record they released prior to the triple album. He said " I was...at the end of my rope, and we desperately needed a break, so that summer, we took about a month off, and I...started writing demos just to keep things going." So even though Green Day stopped touring for about a month, Billie continued to write because he felt that taking time off was dangerous. He observed that when bands take time off, they're not as good when they come back because being in a band is like taking care of a car...if you don't keep it tuned up, it will just sit there and rust over. Personally, I never thought of it that way. I always knew that practicing with a band takes a lot of work, dedication and commitment, but I never compared it to taking care of a car. It's genius.

The film then goes into how the last two albums, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, were essentially concept albums, and it was time to make an album or two that is just straight up rock n' roll! So, instead of just one album, and not just a double album, but a triple album! They decided that  ¡Uno! and Tré! were going to be fun, powerpop rock kind albums, and ¡Dos! was going to be pure rock n' rollWhat band releases three albums months apart from each other? Back in 1973, The Who released their double album, Quadraphenia, and it was the coolest thing anyone has ever done. Green Day decided to take that idea to the next level and made a triple album! Seriously, what songwriter is talented to write over thirty songs and thirty song lyrics in less than one year? If that isn't called talent, I don't know what talent is.

The film then continues on to discussing a new addition was added to Green Day. For the past eight albums, the line up consisted of Billie Joe Armstrong on guitar and lead vocals, Mike Dirnt on bass and backing vocals, and Tré Cool on drums and backing vocals. For the first time in thirteen years, they finally promoted Jason White, their touring guitarist since 1992, as a permanent member to the lineup of Green Day. As much as I loved Green Day as a trio of three talented men in a kickass punk band, I'm very pleased that they added him as permanent member. I thought it was really cool of Billie, Mike, and Tré to add him and a second guitarist and backing vocals after all of the times he toured the world with them for nearly twenty-two years. With a second guitarrist on hand, I feel there is more depth into the songwriting process, and it allows them to experiment with who plays lead or rhythm. Jason was with them for so long, that it was only right for him to join the trio, so I really like that they addressed Jason White's induction in the film. Like they said towards the close of the film, he is "cuatro," or "the fourth member." Very fitting, guys. Right on.

Another thing I really liked about ¡Cuatro! was that the majority of the film didn't consist of only clips of Billie, Mike, Tré, and Jason recording various songs that there going to be placed on any of the three albums. There was so much concert footage that I felt like I was at whatever concert they were performing at. From what I learned about this documentary, Green Day truly knew how to engage with their audience rather than just simply recording their songs and then releasing it months later. In October of 2011, Green Day played a show at Webster Hall in New York City, and they released their future songs on ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and Tré! during that concert solely because they wanted to test out the songs before recording them just to see if the audience likes the songs or not. Billie said "This is the first time in 20 years, that we're actually inviting people into the process...this is not a fully thought out thing yet."Let's look at the big picture here. Green Day has been around since 1987, and here they are playing a set of brand new songs that no one has ever heard before as if they were a brand new,unknown, underground local band. The last time they played a set of unknown, unrecorded songs live for people was during the Kerplunk and Dookie days, it was a real throwback. They reflected that they learned about the songs a lot faster in front of a group of people rather than just recording it and doing a bunch of takes of said song. They treated themselves as an opening band. Because they did that, they know what it's like being an underground band, anxious about whether the audience will like the songs or not. For the past twenty plus years, all of their concerts had a thundering audience, guaranteed praise. For the first time since the early 90's, they're doing a trial run of the songs. Thank you, Green Day, for indirectly giving local bands a shout out. Thank you for understanding where we come from.

After watching the hour and fifteen minute documentary of ¡Cuatro!, Green Day essentially gave me a bigger reason  to look up to them and inspire me write songs and play in a band that is influenced by them. They engage with their audience, and allow themselves to go back to the days when they were just starting out. They truly are some of the most talented musicians I've seen during the twenty two years I've walked this planet. I don't care that they "sold out" after the release of American Idiot. They grew up and experimented with new sounds, new music, and new ideologies behind their lyrics. Sure, I may somewhat prefer pre-American Idiot Green Day to their newer songs, but that doesn't stop me from loving their music and the amount of dedication, time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into doing what they love to do. Green Day will forever be one of my favorite bands, and they will forever be my influence and inspiration to do what I love to do: write music just like what they do.

Thank you so much for reading, everyone. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you all next week.

2 comments:

  1. Awesome blog! I love Green Day, if you ask me, they never really sold out, they just experimented with their playing style, and sound,but the core of what they are never left. to me if they wanted to sell out, they would just keep recording "Dookie"'s and "American Idiot"'s over and over, the only time I felt like they did that was with 21st Century breakdown, though, even though I don't care for the album, it was still a solid album in it's own right. and "iUno!" may have had a very Dookie sound, but that's because it was written that way naturally, they didn't set out to do a "Dookie part II", they just picked their instruments up, played, and it happened to end up sounding similar, but still different in it's own way.

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    1. Thank you, Brendan. =]
      Youtube has ¡Cuatro! in it's entirety,and you can see how much they progressed as a band since the Kerplunk and Dookie days.
      Lyrically, and musically, their talent blossomed.
      And what I love the most about them is that they never developed an ego, and they adore their fans so much, that they're inviting them into the songwriting process. I can't think of any other band that did that.
      That truly is a beautiful thing.

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