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Written by Angeline.

It's been quite the year for voodoo of one kind or another. First came a wandering preacher toting an alligator head on a stick - then there was the political stuff. Which was the more significant is down to how you look at it - elections are won or lost, leaders come and go, but a good song is eternal. A good song can take you thru hard times and it'll be your friend when your friends don't understand, or when you've got no friends at all.

Thinking about the new Green Day record, my mind's eye can already see people lining up for the shows, pulled from wherever they're at in their lives at the time. All of them have this little silent space in them - the secret place that houses their reason for being there, what this band means to them. I see them like they're each wearing a sticky-label badge, but it doesn't have a name on it, it has a song line. There's a girl with 'a land of make-believe that don't believe in me'. There's a guy with 'sometimes I still feel like I'm walking alone'. There's a fourteen-year-old with 'gotta get away or my brains will explode'. Some of these people have travelled with these songs for years, down all the highways and byways of their lives, but some of them weren't even born when these lines were minted new, and yet they feel like 'this song is me'. Then there's the people with lines from the unborn songs - the ones we're all waiting for with so much eager anticipation.

Of all the things that it's possible to imagine, new music's gotta be the hardest. Weird hybrids of Nimrod/Insomniac/Kerplunk crossed with American Idiot, or Warning-but-not-Warning and such are floated as the fanbase shuffles its feet and looks to the past for clues of a future direction.

Why look so far back ? The curious, totally Green Day smoke-and-mirrors thing is that we already had new music from them this year, unless you buy the notion that a rose by any other name is a side-project. Foxboro Hot Tubs, with the whiff of decadence, baptizing in booze under the red-eyed gaze of a goat in a martini glass - defiantly taking the road of excess and chaos, drowning in it, inviting the faithful to come on in to the center ring of a liquid inferno.

Everyone said it was just a fun thing - although, when a man is singing 'never make it out', when a man is singing 'pills and alcohol are making me a lost cause', I'm not fucking laughing. The Reverend Strychnine Twitch, making his sorrows into the best damn show ever, forgiving our sins even though we never asked for that. Instead, I feel like he's the one forever carrying around a sense of the unforgiven, looking for the kind of acceptance that comes from those already prepared to love you for what you can give and not judge you for where you slip and slide and fuck up.

A rose by any other name - and yet, somehow the record that comes directly after American Idiot is not the follow-up to American Idiot. This, despite that it has all of the big Green Day themes - time, identity, love, the fight for hope, the fighting of personal demons, a reason for being. Billie Joe had said he needed silence - he'd said the next record would be 'something with all of our blood put into it', and that speaks commitment, purpose, not saying something unless there's something to say.

Out of that silence came this bruised and beautiful music - out of that silence came a record with so much blood on it that it spills out all over the place. It's is a whole vista of red - Ruby Room and Red Tide, bloody-eyed and crucified in She's a Saint, a mess of blood and tears and wine on Broadway, bleeding on Dark Side - all the effort and the pouring out of self to make songs that are real, songs that meet an internal standard.

All of this, spilling over and into and out of painful little pictures of the human things, the life-stuff. Because sometimes, life is not about a rebel yell or a powerful statement - sometimes it's about crawling on your belly towards the nearest open door, or holding out your hand to the one you love and praying that she'll take it, looking in her eyes when you're making love and feeling that her body is there but her soul has shut down to you.

In a way, Stop Drop and Roll feels as if it all happened one night - Ruby Room to Red Tide to Broadway - but more likely, it's a long night of the soul that wanders round different locations. Billie Joe is full-on poetic in a lot of these songs, he makes word-pictures that light up - Mother Mary and Ruby Room are full of them - he makes metaphors that are vivid and flow easy with the lyric-structure, and yet he still has his store of plain words when wants to use them. Pedestrian flips around concepts of time in the plainest of words, 27th Ave Shuffle comes right out with where he's at in a muttering litany of woes. For an opening line, 'sixteen and a son of a bitch' is so fucking kickass, blasts you right into a rock and roll fantasy - because, back in the real world, '16' on 1039SOSH sees a vulnerable kid, worried about growing up and wishing back to childhood.

The other big deal about this record is Billie Joe's progression as a vocalist. To me, that began with his haunting take on House of the Rising Sun in the intro to Saints are Coming. Here was something that came more from within, that inhabited the words and the mood of an old song and made it real, present-tense, personal.

In the Foxboro songs, he goes everywhere from frenzy-screaming rock to blues to the bright, poppy bounce of Pedestrian. His vocal on Dark Side is spirit - it wanders lonely and fragile under that liar's moon, hovering with the weeping angels, a spectator of his own hell-fire.

On Broadway, his voice is rough-edged, emotional, word-slurred, like it's pulled from his guts and it took everything he had to get it out. Oh fuck, the sober, merciless words that come full circle, the second verse a weepy, finger-jabbing, it's-all-your-fault anyway - but in the midst of it, the guitar-soul speaks with such soaring beauty, such anguish, shimmering, writhing, going headlong into oblivion, light fighting upwards from that smothering dark of 'never make it out'. It's balled up in a corner trying shield itself from the kicking of a gang of thug-thoughts, fear and despair and exile from love.

Musically, this record is a joyous, pirate-like plundering of genres, the sense of a band exploring stuff and trying it out, seeking a breakthrough in a brainstorm. Seeing as the process for American Idiot also involved immersion in a wide variety of music, I think it's more likely that this record would be the cradle for what comes next, rather than relating back to anything further in the past. That's not to say it will be another 60s thing, rather that there's been certain progressions here that I feel are gonna feed into the new stuff, and that abandoning inhibitions and preconceptions is the route to discovery.

So yeah, it's been quite the year for voodoo of one kind or another. With the political stuff came this avalanche of words from the media, from bloggers, from anonymous comments - demonizing, canonizing, damning, soliciting, insinuating, chinese-whispering - fuckit but there was this one night when I dreamed a cauldron full of pig-snouts, all of 'em wearing lipstick, like the ugliness of all the in-fighting was bubbling to the surface of my mind.

Thru it all, I was listening to the Foxboro songs, but it wasn't till after that I saw the parallels - demons and saints, witching-hours, alligator-allegations, a tide of passion with an undercurrent of distrust sweeping a whole nation, a lot of crippled believers crying out for sight. Times of uncertainty, confusion, suspicion, superstition, and music that was expressing the same things. You may consider that's pushing it a little, but he's a wise man, The Reverend - he knows which way the wind is blowing.

Somewhere out there, he's laughing to himself and pouring another one while Billie Joe and the guys are working their asses off, bringing those unborn songs out into the light. I hope for songs with the blood of renewed purpose, of reckless adventure - I kind of hope that when the new album comes out, people will be going, 'wtf, that's Green Day?!!' But right, now the silent space in me holds those songs that were bleeding out and reaching out - the Foxboro songs. I'm the one with the sticky-tag that says 'Broadway' - not because it speaks me, but because it speaks the band I love, the hard places of their journey, and the fight they bring to every one of them. Good songs are eternal - and as far as I'm concerned, this one made the cut.
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