The time has come for Green Day to release their first record in four years! This particular release sees the band really growing into their own as mature musicians while still maintaining a youthful persona that just loves to rock out for themselves as well as their audience. Without further ado, let’s get right into this spectacular album known as “Revolution Radio”.
Green Day are a band I’ve literally grown up with since I was in elementary school back in the 90’s. I’ve seen them through their breakthrough record “Dookie” when it was released in 1994 to their second coming with “American Idiot” in 2004, and I’m glad I’m alive in what will hopefully be level three in their musical evolution.
The trio formed in Oakland, California during the late 80’s when lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong met bassist Mike Dirnt at their school cafeteria one day. Noticing they had similar music tastes, the two decided to form a band and did so once they met with former drummer Al Sorbrante, or John Kiffmeyer as his real name. However, things didn’t go according to plan when he left to go to college and was later replaced with current drummer Tre Cool; the rest was history. Speaking of history, the guys were honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by their peers Fallout Boy on April 16, 2015; Green Day are one of the youngest acts ever to be inducted.
“Revolution Radio” could fall in the same vein as “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown” in that it’s centered around the current political climate but the twist is it’s set in a twisted criminal environment. What I mean by that is a track like “Bang Bang”, which Armstrong himself admitted to being severely freaked out as he wrote through the perspective of a mass shooter. The song itself is a good reminiscent of the sonically aggressive “Insomniac”, with the lyrical landscape of the two aforementioned albums. A great mixture of old and new and rough around the edges.
“Bang Bang” was the first single released this year on August 11th accompanied by a colorful lyric video as well as an official one directed by Rancid vocalist Tim Armstrong. It was followed up by a second video for the title track “Revolution Radio”, which is equally as hard-hitting and packs a punch when you listen to the core message inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Billie Joe even said he got out of his car to see what was going with the protest and just knew he had to join in.
"I was in a car coming from Brooklyn to Manhattan and there was these protesters for Ferguson holding up traffic all the way back across the bridge. I walked out and marched with people a little bit but I was mostly kind of observing and seeing what was happening. It's a trip to watch people just completely rebel against the old order or whatever you want to call it and get to something that's more pure. There was this controlled chaos that was going on and it was happening all over the country," he says, “People don't want to feel obsolete."
Of course, it’s not all hardcore all the time as I’ll point out in a few examples. Along with the trademark punk rock numbers, there are more emotional tracks that are slower. Let’s take the autobiographical “Still Breathing” about Billie Joe’s battle with substance abuse and surviving, to even the second track “Somewhere Now”, which connects to a later track called “Forever Now”. The dynamics in these songs are phenomenal: going from slow to ridiculously fast then back again. The tempo changes are really what makes these songs pop to their fullest potential.
“Troubled Times” reminds me of “Restless Heart Syndrome” with its somber atmosphere, while the whimsical “Youngblood”, about Armstrong’s longtime wife Adrienne, reminds me of “Westbound Sign” from “Insomniac”. Dirnt and Cool are on point with their drumming and bass playing giving the album a much needed bounce in rhythm balancing out the harshness from the aggression allowing a great groove to set in. That’s something Rev Rad really has is outstanding emphasis on instrumentation.
Reaching the closing number in the album is the acoustic melody “Ordinary World”. An interesting tid bit: it’s actually the title of the new film Billie Joe will spearhead as the lead character Perry Miller, a washed up punk rocker who’s wife and daughter have both forgotten his 40th birthday, and as a result, enlists the help of his best friend to celebrate in style. It used to be called “Geezer”, however, it changed names when Armstrong was asked to write a song for the movie.
The track beats out other previous acoustic driven songs with the likes of “Drama Queen” from 2012’s “Tre!” to classic hits “Macy’s Day Parade” from 2000’s “Warning” and “Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance)” found on 1997’s “Nimrod”. I personally think it’s a beautiful ending summing up the bottom line: that we’re all just part of the human race living an ordinary life in an ordinary universe.
In conclusion, I think this is a great album! I love how it’s still epic on a small scale with only 12 tracks, has a mini opera with badass instruments combined together to create a musical masterpiece along with a gorgeous ending to the loud chaos, but what’s most important here is that it’s still different and stands out among other records. That’s one of the main reason I admire Green Day so much is they’re never afraid of reinventing their sound album to album. I give Rev Rad 10 out of 10 stars!
If you’re wondering what’s going on with the band in terms of live shows I’ll walk you through. Green Day recently announced tours in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and are still hitting the road on a club tour throughout North America.
I actually got to see the band in concert in 2005 as well as a second time in 2009. Green Day are fantastic in a live setting and I can’t say any other band even compares. I hope they hit Florida sometime soon because I’d love to experience their energy for a third time.
“Revolution Radio” hit store shelves October 7th, 2016.
Check out the video clip below of news coverage for when "Bang Bang" was first released: