Review: The Longshot – Love Is for Losers

There are two incredibly distinct versions of Billie Joe Armstrong. One writes rock operas that flawlessly meld biting, poetic verses and savage critiques of government. The other just loves writing pop songs. The one constant between the two is that no matter who holds the pen, Armstrong is going to belt out some absolutely killer songs designed to stay in your head. Love Is for Losers by The Longshot, his newest side project, is a band that has fun with rock and isn’t crippled with expectation.

The first thing anyone who listens to The Longshot will wonder, is why this wasn’t released as a Green Day album. The obvious answer is that Green Day is a group that seems to be aiming for higher goals. Their experiment with the ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy showed that following up several critically acclaimed rock operas is difficult when the band just wants to release some pop songs without the depth of American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown. Love Is for Losers is the answer.

These songs are fun. Incredibly catchy, and packing the energy of Armstrong’s signature power chords, The Longshot is power pop at its finest. These are party songs that feel instantly familiar to anyone who has been a fan of Armstrong for more than a minute. Traces of each of his ventures can be heard in the album. “Taxi Driver” beckons the ghost of Green Day circa Nimrod. “Turn Me Loose” channels Foxboro Hot Tubs, and I’m sure you can find traces of Pinhead Gunpowder and some Bille + Norah if you look for it.

Bandmates Jeff Matika (bass), David S. Field (drums) and Kevin Preston (guitar) deliever some killer performances, but it is almost impossible not to compare them to Tre Cool or Mike Dirnst. They are obviously influenced by the other members of Green Day, and give as sincere an homage as is possible. While their performance is worthy of the influences, they give Armstrong a chance to write pop songs free of the weight of his main band on his shoulders.

What does stand out is how Armstrong’s songwriting formula shifts just slightly for The Longshot. There is a slight influence of southern rock in the guitar (“Cult Hero”). Hand claps litter the verses (“The Last Time”, “Soul Surrender”) and guitar solos run rampant just because they can. The Longshot also remind me that I miss classic Green Day, before they took on their political edge. Most of these songs could have been pulled off of Nimrod, and it’s actually refreshing to hear something like that again.

Perhaps the only downside (or upside, if you prefer) is that there is nothing lyrical to bite into. These are party songs, designed to be easy to sing along to without thinking about it. For example, the title track, “Love is for Losers” has a chorus of, “Hey kid, love is for losers now, alright / Stupid kid, you’re a loser now, alright”. While it’s nice to be able to sing along to literally any of these songs midway through the first listen, it’s upsetting to know that it is just a tease of Armstrong as a writer.

Love Is for Losers isn’t a reinvention, because it doesn’t need to be. It’s an excuse to write classic power pop songs. The Longshot is essential listening for fans of Green Day. While it is disappointing that the wit and anger that fuels Armstrong’s best writing is nowhere to be seen, songs like these are rarely written anymore. Love Is for Losers may not be anyone’s favorite album, but it’s impossible not to enjoy.

3.5.5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and wrote this while attempting to eat an apple. It fell off of the table after one bite and rolled under the couch, because why wouldn’t it do just that?

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Most Anticipated of 2016: #4 Green Day Bites Back

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King for a Day

Say what you want, but no one knows how to throw a curveball like Green Day. American Idiot not only reinvented a band everyone thought was done, 21st Century Breakdown proved that it wasn’t just a fluke and provided two of the finest rock albums this century. While the ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tre! trilogy met a more lukewarm reception, the band has made a career out of dropping masterpieces when no one is looking.

While I don’t expect their next album to impact rock the way American Idiot did, I do expect the band to have learned from the mistakes made with the trilogy and produce a highly polished and focused effort. While the trilogy felt like classic Green Day, with fun lyrics and loose, poppy songwriting, there’s a moderate to good chance that this will be another political album, especially given the never ending and escalating number of political scandals, elections and police scrutiny. It’s prime material for Billie Joe Armstrong to mine from.

There is the argument that all of their albums tend to sound similar, but if they changed their sound much people would bitch just as much in the other direction. With the American Idiot Broadway show under his belt, there is plenty for Armstrong to experiment with now on other projects, and he has a knack for writing rock operas. There’s no indication that this is the case so far, but a boy can dream.

Regardless, a national arena tour is much overdo from the band. Green Day put on the single best live performance I have ever seen, and I look forward to seeing them again every time they come even remotely close to wherever I happen to be.

Love them or hate them, new Green Day releases tend to be events in the rock community that forces the mainstream radio to shine a light on punk rock again, no matter how brief.

Long live the kings.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and nine hours to Detroit to see Green Day play a show. How the hell is it that far away? Geography is a horibble science

Review: Billie Joe + Norah – Foreverly

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Billie Joe Armstrong is a divisive name in the punk scene. Either he’s recognized as a punk rock legend for some of the most epic songs and records in the genre, or as an annoying sellout. Norah Jones is an indie princess who has spent the last decade forging a name for herself through bluesy inspired folk pop. Admittedly, I don’t know that much about her music, but I hear that she is just swell.

Although Billie Joe isn’t known for his quieter side, the collaboration with Jones, effectively called Billie Joe + Norah, is a beautiful pairing between two renowned artists that pushes both into unfamiliar territory. The fact that this is a cover album of The Everly Brothers’ Songs Our Daddy Taught Us might throw some people off, but the record is a rare chance to see new aspects of musicians exploring outside of their genres, especially for Billie Joe, in ways that we’ve never known them.

Songs Our Daddy Taught Us
was originally released in 1958 by The Everly Brothers, a rock and roll duo in the days of the still newborn genre. The release is a collection of traditional songs that the duo learned as children. Billie Joe + Norah’s take on the album is a tribute to the original material more than it is a reimagining or reinterpretation. The duo play it very close to the vest on the record, so much so that at first glance, you wouldn’t know that it isn’t The Everly Brothers singing. However, the biggest tell is the full backing on the CD, as opposed to the original’s guitar and singing only.

What Billie Joe + Norah manage to capture almost perfectly is the beautiful harmonies that both sing together, which is partially what The Everly Brothers are known for. However, the downside to how well they match the original brothers is that they don’t try anything new to expand on it. This style of music is a refreshing sound that just isn’t practiced anymore, and seeing the duo releasing Foreverly as a tribute is a welcome surprise that tosses a wrench into the scene. One of the best parts of the album is how basic everything sounds, as the music sits in the background while the duo’s crooning singing dominates each song.

Lead single “Long Time Gone” is a faithful rendition of the original, complete with the twang of country-inspired guitar. Without an intricate and heavy musical style, the song uses the music to push the lyrics front and center as Billie and Norah croon together. “Oh So Many Years” is much in the same vein, a pop guitar song with the simplest drum beat and piano hidden behind acoustic guitars. Like any good folk song, it lyrically tells a story rather than rely on hooks to catch the listener. This track is easily the poppiest on the record and includes an electric guitar solo midway through. The album can feel monotonous at times, but the simplicity to the songs is one of their most endearing aspects.

Billie Joe + Norah’s debut album is a throwback to the older genre of rock and country that is as refreshing in this day and age as it is a uniquely made tribute album. While it is sure to introduce a new generation to past legends that they may not have otherwise listened to, the album can be so similar to the source material that it’s almost redundant.

While faithful covers are always welcome, some reimagined songs that really showcased the musical talents of both Billie Joe and Norah’s take on the songs would have been an incredible addition. That being said, the album is surprisingly refreshing in a scene that is starving for creativity and hopefully the start of more collaborations between the duo revisiting classic albums to introduce them to a new generation.

3/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.