Friday, July 31, 2009

Electronic Music/The Yellow Chair

Taking a quick break from Green Day. I'll probably crank some more 21st Century in the car. Last Night On Earth = :) But by the time I get to my car, I'll probably end up cranking Faure instead. It depends on my mood.


After seeing my friend Vito perform yesterday (under the name The Yellow Chair) at the Alphabet Lounge, I found myself with new ideas for my own exploration of electronic music. I recently acquired a Stylophone (courtesy of my brother), but I figured it was mostly just a toy. There wasn't too much I could do with it. That was, until I saw my friend putting on an entire 45-minute set with a toy keyboard, an alarm clock, a drum machine, and a couple of guitar pedals. Wow.

So, I have this iPod dock that I figured out I could use as a speaker for the Stylophone. See, the instrument itself is pretty cool, but it is much too quiet on its own to play for an audience. The iPod dock changes that. Hell, I could probably set up a track on my iPod and use the Stylophone to improvise over it. I could probably dust off some of my guitar pedals (I'm an amp distortion kind of player), and use those.

More to follow. And definitely check out The Yellow Chair.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Green Day, Part II

Anyway, since this is a music blog, I really should speak about the music. As I said before, the band played well. I totally understand that they have to promote their new album and play loads of tracks off it, but frankly, I really haven't gotten into the new music yet. I often criticize fans of anything from TV shows to bands to book series for not accepting new offerings- I believe that fans are impossible to please sometimes. They always mindlessly bash new offerings without even giving them a chance. I understand, however. It usually takes a while to warm up to something new. Not so much new episodes of TV shows, but usually a new album takes a few listens before you get to like it. A lot of Green Day fans automatically discounted American Idiot (2004) simply because it was new. To make matters worse, it was overplayed on the airways, leading a lot of fans to fall back on the whole "selling out" line.

Has Green Day sold out? Obviously. Does that fact alone necessarily mean the quality of their music has declined? Not always. Selling out and quality decline should be mutually exclusive, but people always associate the latter with the former. When Warning (2000) came out, people accused Green Day of being sellouts. But Warning is a fantastic album. More on that later, if I decide to do a whole series of Green Day-related entries (which I might just do).

Anyway, at this point, I can only say that I sort of like the new album. It's not "terrible" as many fans automatically said after their first listen. Know Your Enemy and Last Night On Earth are pretty damn good tracks, with the latter reflecting some Beatles-esque qualities. Some of the writing I feel is lazy. If you want to branch off into other styles besides punk rock, do so. If you want to stay hard and punk rock, do that. A lot of songs sound off quiet and always end with the same hard rock sound, which makes the album a little predictable and homogenous after a while. But there's nothing wrong with that.

The lyrics, as always, are fantastic. I will give that to Billie Joe- he has always been a top-notch poet. And maybe I am just being unfair, but I am still kind of on the fence about this new album. But like I said, it takes a while to learn to like new offerings sometimes. Maybe, what is most frustrating, is that Green Day is still trying to be punk rock (in look, and in Billie Joe's attitude on stage), while trying to offer something deeper and more mature. I can't really speak for Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool- they hardly spoke during the show. But Billie Joe acts extremely immature on stage. If you are going to "sell out" (as the punk kids like to say), that's all well and good, but give all or nothing. Don't still try to act "punk" when you're 37 years old and when you are trying to demonstrate, through your music, that there is more to your being than three chords and anger.

More to follow.

My thoughts on Green Day (Part 1)

So, Green Day is a doing a huge tour in order to promote their new album, 21st Century Breakdown. I saw them Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, where they put on a 3 hour show encompassing material from their latest album, with a few classics thrown in for good measure. A lot more older songs followed in the encore, including my personal favorite, Macy's Day Parade. No comment on that one, however. I did not stay for the encore.

Anyway, the group put on an entertaining show. They all played really well- Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt are two extremely talented musicians, as are the back-up players. The stage crew was very competent and on the ball as well. Billie Joe, on the other hand, managed to knock the overall experience down a few pegs with his immature antics and his horrendously dirty mouth. Coming from me, this seems almost out of character. I am known for my horribly tasteless sense of humor, and I am prone to swearing like a sailor sometimes. I swear at the Double Vision shows. But here's the difference: Double Vision shows are primarily 21+. Green Day, however, attracted hordes of young children to the show. Billie Joe has to be aware of this; he invited a few young children on stage to play with the band (only to later tell one of them to 'get the fuck' off the stage after playing). Sure, he probably meant that humorously, but the kid would not understand that.

Perhaps it is up to the parents to research Green Day to see what they are like in concert. True. I really do think it is up to the parents to research the concerts before bringing their children. But most parents don't do that. Still, there really is no excuse to swear excessively in front of kids. Children will imitate anything they hear- swearing included. Billie Joe has to be aware that his fanbase not only consists of fans who listened to his music in the 90s, but also consists of much younger fans today. If he really is that oblivious, then he should acknowledge the fact that he has two kids and that he needs to grow up.

And besides, as much as I like to swear, it gets old after saying 'fuck' every. Other. Word. No joke. And guess what? Kids who look up to Billie Joe will learn that it's okay to talk like that.

Now, this falls on the parents. Hopefully, you are all smart enough to teach your kids the difference between right and wrong. This goes for all the violence in movies and TV as well. Don't let your kids become desensitized to everything that is wrong. Teach them.

And if you really, seriously can't do that, then don't take your kids to another Green Day concert. Perhaps Billie Joe is trying really hard to please all of his fans, from the youngest ones to the older ones. But if he can't control his language, then there should really be a minimum age for admission to a Green Day concert. It's that simple.

Check back for Part II soon.