Category Archives: Rock Albums

Avenged Sevenfold Pull From Their Influences to Create, ‘Hail To The King’

The metal community came together in 2009 to support Avenged Sevenfold after the death of their drummer, James ‘The Rev’ Sullivan. It was a sad time to be a fan of the band, but the band rebounded quite well with the release of their fifth album, Nightmare in 2010, which the band was working on at the time of the Rev’s death. The drums on the album were completely recorded by former Dream Theater drummer, Mike Portnoy. After some touring they announced a new drummer, Arin Ilejay, would be touring with them. In 2013 they made Ilejay a full-time member, and is now featured on the band’s latest album, Hail To The King.

Hail To The King is very different from the band’s previous work. It has a very classic rock vibe with a lot of their influences displayed prominently throughout the record. It is unclear whether or not this was intentional or not, but some of the tracks are clearly shoutouts to the bands that have influences, Avenged Sevenfold. The first track, “Shepherd of Fire”  is a clear example of this as it sounds like a mix of “Raining Blood” and the bells are reminiscent of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

Next up is the album’s title track, “Hail to The King.” The intro to this song this sounds like AC/DC’s “Thunder Struck.” But this new track sounds like Maiden throughout the guitars yet has an Avenged Sevenfold feel due to the vocals provided by M. Shadows. who sounds excellent. This track moves at a steady clip, but could have been brought up several BPM. The guitar playing by Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengance is excellent. Lyrically M. Shadows is on par with many other metal vocalists and lyricists.

“Doing Time” is a great track that reminds a great deal of Guns n’ Roses. I don’t hate it. And Honestly I can say I don’t mind it. Rock needs a track like this to clear out all the crappy radio rock that is played these days (i.e. Theory of a Deadman.) “This Means War” is up next and this track also lends its self well to comparison of other classic metal songs. This song particularly makes one think of the classic Metallica tune “Sad But True.” “Requiem” is the fifth track on the album, and is one of my favorites on the record. It has a very old school vibe which is awesome. It reminds me of “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin in the orchestrated part too.

The next track really slows down, and is entitled, “Crimson Day.”  It’s also one of the best tracks on the record, as it shows that M. Shadows is a great vocalist. And also shows the great melodic guitar playing of Synyster Gates. “Heretic” is the next track on the album, and this one is definitely influenced by another Big 4 band, Megadeth. It sounds without a doubt like “Symphony of Destruction,” write down to the punishing bass line. There is also a part that sounds like Megadeth’s “Hangar 18.” Again I don’t hate it, in fact I quite enjoyed it.

The next track that really caught my ear was the final track, “Acid Rain” which is a beautiful ballad centered around a piano very reminiscent of so many great songs, but the thing is they made it their own and came up with a great song.

Hail To The King, is a great album and will stand side by side with their best work. They have mastered the formula that includes many of their influences and created their own signature brew.

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John Fogerty Releases Collection of Re-Recorded Classics with Great collaborations

If there was a man who summed up the perfect mix of grit and charm it was definitely Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty. Fogerty’s voice and lyrics summed up a whole generation;s feelings, and have resonated throughout the ages, and now at age of 68 Fogerty has released a collection of some of his most known tunes re-recorded with some of today’s biggest artists spanning many genres and sub-genres. Some guests include: Foo Fighters, Jennifer Hudson, and Kid Rock. The album was  released on May 28, 2013 Fogerty’s 68th birthday, and is a fitting celebration of Fogerty’s back catalogue.

The first track of Wrote a Song for Everyone is a re-recording of CCR’s most famous song and politically driven song, “Fortunate Son” and it features a great collaboration with Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters. It’s great to hear a more modern recording of this song, but the lyrics are still accurate as the day they were written.  Keith Urban provides a great performance on the next track, “Almost Saturday Night” which is a more obscure song, but was perfect for both Urban and Fogerty, as their voices synced in a very cohesive manner.  “Lodi” is the third track on the record, and this is where Fogerty’s two sons, Shane and Tyler, come into the picture, and they provide great performances.

One of the album’s two new songs was up next, and I found this song, “Mystic Highway” to be a great track, not only is it classic Fogerty, but it also feels very modern, and sing songish. It may be campy, but it works.

Zac Brown Band makes an appearance on the album’s rendition of “Bad Moon Rising.” The band’s music works perfectly when it comes to the track, as it’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. Musically ZBB holds up their end well, while Fogerty does his thing perfectly on guitar and vocals. Arrangement wise the song is excellent, and exceedingly fresh. “Born on The Bayou” featuring Kid Rock was the next track that I fell in love with. Kid Rock’s voice works so well in the country rock genre, and also compliments Fogerty’s voice with stylistic ease.

Wrote A Song For Everyone is a hybrid greatest hits and tribute album that works great. Fogerty picked artists that complimented his talents, and added a new twist to the record. The dude Abides.

-B. Harlow

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Johnzo West ‘Glory’

About a year ago Musically Diversified did an artist profile on singer/songwriter Johnzo West. Since then West has been very working on his own solo album and performing live with Billy Ray Cyrus. We recently got the opportunity to take a listen to West’s latest album, and we were blown away with the ten tracks he presents on Glory, which was released in February.

Glory is a great collection of songs that show West’s skills on guitar and vocals. The album starts off with a song entitled “Don’t Leave Me Hangin’” which is a track that starts off nicely with some great guitar work, but is definitely carried by a great vocal performance by West. The song really takes off during the chorus sections and is especially good during the wah drenched guitar solo. The next song is called “The Shallows” which is a track that has been re-worked from West’s 2008 release Bring On The Burden. It’s a great song that features a soulful performance from West on vocals.

“Heart of Stone” is another great track on the record. The lyrics tell a great story and the accompaniment suites the lyrics perfectly.  “Tell Your Mother” is the next track and this song has a very country feel, especially the drums which keep a steady beat that keeps the country time while the guitars slide in and out. West’s vocal fit perfectly over this track.

“The Constant” is the next track on the album, and it has a great funky feel from the beginning. The bass, guitars, and drums instantly catch your attention, and you get to the chorus and West’s vocals take over. “On My Way” is a great track that is an old school rocker and features great guitar work throughout. Lyrically it tells a great story too.

“The Good Fight” is probably my favorite track from West. Lyrically and musically it just works, and makes a very enjoyable listening experience for anyone involved. Arrangement wise the piano and guitar work excellently.

Glory is a great collection of tracks. Be sure to take a listen HERE

-B. Harlow

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Can Fall Out Boy Save Rock & Roll?

Save Rock & Roll is a very ambitious title for an album, and I’m not really  sure Fall Out Boy came close to doing that, but they did put together an interesting album with some great songs including a collaboration with Elton John  on the album’s title track. To me this album is more of a statement that says Fall Out Boy is back and is going to be bigger than ever, but at a cost.

The album starts out with a track called “The Pheonix” which starts off with an interesting orchestral part that was unexpected when first listening to the album. Patrick Stump’s vocals come in over the accompaniment, and then the chorus comes in and you really get an idea about the album. It’s all about big choruses. Next up is the album’s first single “My Songs Know What You Did in The Dark (Light Em’ Up)”  which is a very annoying song because of the mix. If the guitars were further up in the mix the song would have sounded a hell of a lot better, but the drums and sampling overpower the guitar.

The next track on the album is entitled “Alone Together.” I actually liked this song due to the arrangement, and songwriting. Musically it flows very well, but the lyrics are what bring the song above the level of a typical pop song. This song is followed by “Where Did The Party Go” which has an intro featuring the much improved bass playing of Pete Wentz. The track is very narrative when it comes to lyrics, and this story really carries the song, as there is nothing substantial music wise on this track.

One of my favorite tracks on the record is the song “Just One Yesterday” which features British songstress, Foxes. The song is very well written and is also arranged well. The song is also mixed well especially when Foxes and Stump are singing together. It’s a fantastic track that will definitely do well if it were to be released as a single. It is followed nicely by “The Might Fall” which features rapper, Big Sean. This song features a highly tampered with drum track, but also feature a great riff from Trohman, and it is the first time you hear Trohman’s guitar up in the mix.

The next track to take note of is the band’s collaboration with Courtney Love, “Rat A Tat” which starts off when Love says “It’s Courtney Bitch.” This track is an all-around fun track which mixes the bands old sound with their newer over-produced tone. Love’s rawness adds a lot to the track, but I definitely think its Wentz’s bass that drives the track.

My favorite track on the album is the last track, “Save Rock and Roll” which is a collaboration with the legendary, Elton John. This song blew me away, and is definitely the only song on the album that is going to matter five years from now. The band comes together perfectly on the track, and even the sampling works well, but what brings this track over the top are Elton John’s amazing vocals.

Will this album save Rock and Roll? The answer is no. But this is a good album featuring some excellent songs. If Fall Out Boy were to make an album that were to save Rock and Roll they’d definitely have to take a hint from Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley’s side project The Damned things and play some damn riffs.

-B. Harlow

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Ghost B.C.’s Second Satanic Opus ‘Infestissumam’

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the hard rock and heavy metal world you know that one of the hottest bands out is the Swedish cult metal favorites, Ghost B.C. Ghost B.C. is a masked band featuring  a singer who goes by the name of Papa Emeritus, and a band of ghouls. The band released their debut album in 2010 entitled, Opus Eponymous, which made the band an instant hit among metal listeners looking for something different. Ghost B.C. also got high-profile endorsements from people in the metal scene including Metallica’s James Hetfield and Down front-man  Phil Anselmo. The band also got to play onstage with Down at Download 2011. The band released a stream of their new album Infestissumam this week, and we got to take a listen and needless to say we were impressed by the offering which will be released next Tuesday.

The album starts out with the title track “Infestissumam” which starts off with a choral arrangement that leads into a heavy rock song. This is a great intro track especially, as it sets the tone for the rest of the album. It also leads nicely into the next track, “Per Aspera ad Inferi” which is stylistically similar to their first release, Opus Eponymous. The track moves nicely into the album’s first single, “Secular Haze.” “Secular Haze” is another great track from the band he song starts with an organ riff that sounds like it would be played at a carnival from your worst nightmare. It is soon joined by drums and guitar. Eventually the vocals join, but around the 1:34 mark the song gets very melodic within the music and vocals. Around the 3:15 mark there is a great musical interlude which ends in another verse, which then goes into another chorus, but with this chorus the song ends. This was definitely my favorite track on the album.

“Jigolo Har Megiddo” is the fourth track on the new album, and this track is really cool, as it is a real change-up. It has a real pop feel, but definitely feels like it’s a pop song that would be featured in a haunted house. The next song on the album is “Ghuleh / Zombie Queen,” this song is another favorite from the record because stylistically it is very dark, but has a very 70’s vibe to it. It almost sounds like what would happen if Blue Oyster Cult and Pink Floyd had a musical love child.

“Year Zero” is another track from the album that I really enjoyed. I particularly enjoyed the intro which is capella, and very staccato this lead into a riff that to me, said a lot for such a simple riff. The vocals came in next and this is when the track started to take off especially the chorus which reminded me of early solo Ozzy musically, but vocally it reminded me a lot of King Diamond.

The next track that caught my attention was “Depth of Satan’s Eyes” which is a very doom metal sounding track. I quite enjoyed it though do the riff that was pumping and steady. The final track on the album is titled, “Monstrance Clock” it is a great song especially the guitars thorough out the song and the synth solo.

Infestissumam comes out this coming Tuesday, April 16. You can pre-order it here, and stream the entire album here!

-B. Harlow

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Stone Sour Release The Second Part of Their Saga, ‘House Of Gold & Bones pt. 2’

On April 9th Stone Sour will release the second part of their saga House Of Gold & Bones pt. 2 via  Roadrunner Records. The album package comes in two parts; these pieces will combine to make the House Of Gold & Bones. The band will also be releasing four comic books that will go along with the double album. Eventually singer Corey Taylor wants to turn the concept into a film, but that will be a little further down the line.

House Of Gold & Bones pt. 2 is a very different album from the first album. In fact it shows a very different side of the band which is more ethereal and shows the band’s terrific ability in arrangement. This is shown well on the album’s first track “Red City” which starts out with Taylor on vocals only accompanied by piano. The track eventually gets drums, a grinding bass, and very spacey synth and guitar parts. Then the whole band comes in full force. This is a huge surprise because it all of a sudden turns from this nice composition into a brutally heavy metal song in a matter of seconds. This track then fades into some weird sound effects, but then the listener get introduced to the next song “Black John” which is reminiscent of Stone Sour’s regular sound, but definitely features more of Jim Root and Josh Rand’s excellent guitar playing.

The next track on the album is called “Sadist” now this track reminded me a lot of Slayer’s “Seasons In The Abyss” due to the chord structure, but it definitely is its own song, and it is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. The lyrics on the track are very emotional, but what I love about the track is how it is mixed with very spacey sounding guitars that almost have as much prominence as the vocals throughout the verse section. I also think this track shows off just how versatile Taylor’s voice is. We all know Taylor can scream really well, but what most people don’t realize is that he is one of the most talented singers in music today. Another thing to mention is the guitar solo which is very middle eastern sounding, and is not based in traditional metal and rock modes.

“Peckinpah” is the next track on the album, and this song is really strange. I didn’t particularly like it because I feel like it was placed wrong sequentially on the album and would do better towards the end of the album

The next track that caught my attention is called ’82 and this track had a very interesting feel to it. Vocally it tells an interesting story, but musically it is like a very heavy pop song especially with the use of the whammy or octave pedal throughout the chorus. I really liked this track and would put it up there as one of the best on the album.

“Uncanny Valley” is the next track on the album, and this track sounds like it came right out of the early 90’s. I really dug the vibe of the track especially its upbeat music.

“Blue Smoke” brings the album back down to the serious level with its orchestral and piano driven. Taylor’s vocals are interesting on this track, as they sound very filtered and almost restricted. It’s a short track, and is followed by the very interesting track, “Do Me A Favor” which is an interesting track because of the vocals are very down trodden, but the chorus sounds like an 80’s pop song.

“The Confligration” is another great song that follows the traditional ballad formula of a soft verse/ loud chorus, but I particularly like this track because Taylor’s voice makes you pay attention to his narrative, and not the simplistic accompaniment.

“The House of Golden Bones” is the final track on the record. To me this final track really packs the punch, and was what I really wanted to hear after the softer tracks. This track sounds a lot like the material on the first part of the album, but that is what makes it a fitting final track for the record.

-B. Harlow

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Coheed and Cambria Release Latest installment in their Amory Wars saga with ‘The Afterman: Descension (Vol. 2.)’

Today Coheed and Cambria released the latest installment of their Amory Wars saga with The Afterman: Descension (Vol. 2) the second part of their double album The Afterman. The first half of the album which was released in October and in one week, Coheed sold nearly 50,000 copies, scoring the album the #5 spot on Billboard. Now as I mentioned this album is part of the Amory Wars saga, but in this review I will not be covering how this album fits into the story line. Instead I will be looking into the spectacular tracks that are featured on this volume.

Hello Apollo, Where should I begin? The Afterman: Descension starts off with the track “Pre-Lethal” which starts off with a nice intro that has a very mystical feel that almost felt like Rush. Then at the 1:15 the song picks up and goes in a heavier direction that sounds a lot like the bastard love child of Genesis and Iron Maiden. The next track, “Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant” is my favorite track on the album. It also was the first song I heard when the band released an acoustic demo of the song on YouTube last year. The song which starts out with an acoustic guitar then the whole band kicks in, and you get taken away into the marvelous track. I also love the production on this song as it is very clear, but you can also hear the human imperfections throughout. I also particularly liked the punchy bass tone that is often not found in modern progressive music.

The next song was called “The Hard Sell,” and honestly I can tell you this track was a hard sell. It couldn’t decide what genre it was. Was it Funk? Was it rock? Was it Metal? I honestly could not tell you. But all the wrong doings of “The Hard Sell” were taken away when I heard the next track, “Number City.” It had a really poppy feel to it, but at the same time it wasn’t empty calories like most pop songs. I particularly liked the way the band used programing throughout the track to texture it.

“Gravity’s Union” is the fifth track on the album. At first I thought the song was a demo from a really bad garage band, but then Claudio Sanchez’s voice came in and I knew it was Coheed, and by the chorus I could tell the song was back to traditional production value. “Away We Go” is the next track that I really enjoyed, and let me tell you this reminded me a lot of Asia and 80’s Genisis in the intro and the instrumental breaks. I liked this song a lot and would put it as one of the top songs on the album.

“Iron Fist” kicks off the last third of the record, and let me tell you the title of the song was very deceiving as it was not a heavy song at all, but a folk guitar piece with the band layered on top.  Next up came “Dark Side of Me” and this was the track that really sold the album for me, as it is just a pure slice of Coheed and Cambria, and to the fans of the band I think you’ll enhoy this track due to the familiarity of the formatting.  This track is followed by the closer, “2’s My Favorite 1” which sounds like it belongs on a Fall Out Boy album at first, but again Claudio’s voice brings it back to Coheed and Cambria territory, but this is not a big grandiose ending I was expecting. I was expecting something like “The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut,” but to this wish there was no answer.

Be sure to check out Coheed and Cambria’s latest installment in their Amory Wars saga with The Afterman: Descension (Vol. 2.) I promise that you will not be disappointed especially with tracks like, “Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant” and “Dark Side of Me.” This is the final cut.

-B. Harlow

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Rock And Roll is Back: Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown’s new album, ‘Wild Child’

A common opinion of many music fans is that good old-fashioned rock and roll has gone extinct. To all of these people I would like to say this is not the case especially when it comes to Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown. This band is 100% real rock and roll. Their new album, Wild Child is a testament of real rock and roll’s longevity, and hopefully will kick radio rock bands like Nickelback off the airwaves.

But let’s get down to business and talk about the great record the band has put together. Wild Child starts out with the track “Fools Gold” this track is a great way to start off the album especially with the excellent slide guitar work found throughout the track. The next track is called “Lip Stick Wonderwoman” which is a really bluesy track that moves with a great strut. “Cold Heart” is up next, and this track is a track that’s driven by a tight groove that is held together by the rhythm section of Noah Denny on bass and Caleb Crosby’s drums.  “Say a Prayer” is the single from the album and this is a true piece of rock, and everything a rock single should be. It has a solid groove, is incredible catchy, and has an easy to remember chorus.

The fourth track on the album is called “Downtown Tonight,” and this track has some sweet slide playing with a very tight groove. The next track that caught my attention was the seventh track ”Last one Leaving” which has a very cool vibe and a very sing-able chorus, and gives a vibe that is reminiscent of The Black Keys. “Still Young (Hey Kids)” was up next and this song reminded me a lot of Cheap Trick, but I can’t put my finger on why it reminds me of that particular band.

Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown are on pace to be a headlining act. Their album is fantastic especially the bluesy guitar playing of both Bryant and Graham Whitford. Be sure to check these rockers out.

B. Harlow

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iTre! – The Best for Last of Green Day’s New Trio of Albums!

This album completes the trilogy of albums that Green Day has released in the past 4 months.  And personally, they saved the best for last.  The album is titled iTré! as a play on words with drummer Tré Cool’s name and after iUno! and iDos!

iTré! Opens with “Brutal Love.”  This song rocks.  It reminds me of “Restless Heart Syndrome” off of 21st Century Breakdown, and is a good first impression of this third album.  Next up is “Missing You” which sounds like good old Green Day with power chords and palm muting just like old times.  Third is “8th Avenue Serenade.”  This is definitely new Green Day, but still has their root elements in it.  It’s good new, not bad new.  After that comes “Drama Queen.”  This one is slower with a nice acoustic intro and change of style with a piano solo in the middle which fits perfectly into the song followed closely by a nice guitar lick.  Up fifth is “X-Kid.”  This one is average.  It fits pretty standardly into any of the new albums.  Number six is “Sex, Drugs, and Violence.”  I like this one cause of how the vocals and music harmonize.

To start the second half of the album is “A Little Boy Named Train.”  This song is good.  Long time Green Day fans will appreciate it as well as new aspects. Eighth on the album comes “Amanda.” I like this song as well.  (like I said, this album surpasses both iUno! and iDos! )  Next up is “Walk Away” which is about facing problems and being the bigger person.  It does sound like new Green Day but I‘m not saying that’s a bad thing.  Tenth is “Dirty Rotten Bastards.”  It opens with Billie singing “Yeahhhhhhh” but with a lot of flourishes.  It will be a good one in concert definitely.  It sort of falls under the “American Eulogy” (21st Century Breakdown) category.  It has a bunch of quick chord progressions and vocals meshed together into one song. It’s Mike’s song.  There are so many bass solos and a pretty sweet guitar solo as well.   I really like this one.  Second to last is “99 Revolutions.”  The way that this song flows is particularly well, and the song is rather pleasing to auditory sense .  It works.  It’s Green Day doing what they do best: making music.  Lastly is “The Forgotten.”  This song is awesome it consists of just a piano and some orchestral backing like violins and cellos with Tré’s drum keeping beat.  Then the guitar comes in for a fitting solo.

This album is straightup kickass.  It totally beats the crap out of both iUno! and iDos!  (reviews for them are also on MD)  It is just as good as 21st Century Breakdown (given, some people didn’t like 21st ,but I did.)  iTre! is a great album.  I’m quite pleased that Green Day didn’t disappoint with their trio of albums.  I wasn’t too stoked on iUno! or iDos!, but iTre! definitely made up for its predecessors’ shortcomings.  Hopefully Green Day will announce their new tour dates (because they cancelled their 2012 and 2013 shows due to front-man Billie Joe Armstrong’s rehab.)

Z. Guida

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Green Day Release Part Two of Their Trilogy,’iDOS!’

Zack here with the second installment of the Green Day new trio of album reviews.  Well, with the first of three albums, iUno! released, here comes iDos!  iDos! is a good album just like iUno! , iDos! is Green Day stripped down.  This is nothing like the powerful “in-your-face” feel of American Idiot or Dookie.  Green Day is evolving and so is their music.   It’s good stuff, don’t get me wrong, but it takes some getting used to.  This album is pretty much on the same field as iUno! for me.  They could be combined into one album and I wouldn’t know where one ended and the other began.

On to the individual song review. First is “See You Tonight.”  This song is stripped down with just a guitar and vocals.  Short and sweet. I like it. Second up is “F*** Time” which features  a nice backing drum beat with explosive guitar and cymbals throughout.  It also includes a really “shloppy” but still sweet guitar solo.  Probably the fastest song on the album comes “Stop When The Red Lights Flash.”  Fourth comes “Lazy Bones,” which was the “single” for the album.  It fits with the rest of the album nicely with quieter backing guitar leading into loud power guitar and steady drums leading into loud crashing drums.

Next up is the song “Wild One,” which is a solid love song straight outta Billie Joe’s mind.  Green Day lyrics definitely.  Following is the strange yet appropriately named “Makeout Party.”  This one has nice pop (not like Jbeebs pop, like peppy, upbeat pop)  Seventh is “Stray Heart.”  Mike opens with a nice bass riff.  It’s one of my favorites off the album.  Next is “Ashley” which comes out of your speakers with a bang.  It’s quick and fast with the chorus including, you guessed it, the name, Ashley!  “Baby Eyes” comes next, and is a quick song lasting only two minutes and 22 seconds it features straight up power chords and  is definitely straight up punk. This song definitely sounds like classic Green Day.

Tenth on the album is “Lady Cobra.”  This one is quick as well lasting just over 2 minutes.  It’s all about a crazy woman!  Next is “Nightlife.”  I hate this song, and I think it’s total garbage.  Green Day should never have thought this song is acceptable by any means.  It’s trash, and not Green Day at all.  So yeah.  Then comes “Wow! That’s Loud.”  This is a nice refresher after the s**t that preceded it.  It has a funky guitar riff throughout.  And wrapping up the album is, “Amy.”  This song is just guitar and Billie Joe.  I would love to see it live.  It could fall under a “Good Riddance” category during a show (Just BJA and a guitar.)  The song is probably my second favorite off the album.

Well, iDos! is good.  Just as good as iUno!  It has its ups and one down.  I’m excited to see what Green Day rolls out for the final installment in the trio of albums.  Also, sad to say, Green Day postponed and/or cancelled their 2013 tour due to front-man Billie Joe being in rehab.  I’ll stay posted on Green Day’s albums and tour dates and let you know.  I recommend iDos!  pick it up, only 5 dollars on Amazon.com!

-Zack Guida

 

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