Review: Foxboro Hot Tubs’ “Stop Drop and Roll!!!”

May 23, 2008 11:43am

“American Idiot” stands as one of the most profoundly brilliant and poignant records of this decade.  No doubt, it is going to be a difficult record to follow-up since it was so monumental in its scope.  Leave it to Green Day to dodge that menacing task by disguising themselves as a sixties-influenced garage-rock band called the Foxboro Hot Tubs.  In many ways it’s a brilliant move.  “American Idiot” was a pretty heavy album, subject-wise.  It was the album where the lovable goofball, wiseguy pop-punks grew up and gave us something immense. This new guise helps them lighten their load and let loose again like old times.  It’s a 32 minute blast of retro sounds, simple riffs and good-time attitude.  In comparison to “American Idiot,” some may consider it a bizarre step backwards, but it’s really meant to be nothing more than a big, fun rock record for the ages.  It has no obvious message or political agenda; it’s just a fun, fully retro romp complete with simple production and a loving wink to the bands of the past.  Consider this disc Green Day’s submission for Rhino’s next “Nuggets” boxed-set.  It’s nice that the album’s title promotes good fire-safety techniques, and the title-track is a riff-tastic rocker. You can feel the steam coming off their amps as Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice mimics classic British Invasion harmonies over a punked-up, riff.  It’s obviously a Green Day cut, but it’s got a well-aged dingy sound not heard on their other records.  “Mother Mary” borrows Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” rhythm much like Jet did a few years back for “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”  This song is much cheerier and happier sounding than both those tracks.  Green Day’s biggest strength has always been their ability to steal from others and change things around just ever-so-slightly so that the tracks sound a bit familiar but nevertheless original.  It’s their gift.  “Ruby Room” recalls their hit “Hitching a Ride,” with an addition of some sweet farfisa for good, authentic measure. The “Woo woo” background vocals are an intriguing addition.  “Red Tide” recalls the best of the Kinks.  Mainly the track sounds like an altered take on the formula for “Tired of Waiting,” which Green Day has previously covered.  The tone of the guitar is perfect to imitate the era, and Tre Cool’s drums swing with ease.  At 3:32, “Broadway” is the mammoth in comparison to the rest of the tracks.  It also sounds strikingly like a normal Green Day track with a beefier guitar riff, a bongo drum solo and more vocal harmonizing.  The dissatisfied references to “drinking gasoline” and the refrain of “it’s killing me” bring back memories of the edgy teen angst found on “Dookie.” “She’s a Saint Not a Celebrity” borrows its main riff liberally from both Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and “A Little Bit o’ Soul” by the Music Explosion. It’s a formula which has been often been bitten, sliced and diced and repurposed.  The track also possesses a defining Ramones-like crunch.  “Sally” sounds like a more paisley-soaked answer the Monkees’ (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone.”  The farfisa in combination with the mid-song rhythm-shifts, give the song weight and importance. “Alligator” returns to Kinks-ville.  It’s a funhouse mirror answer to “You Really Got Me.” “The Pedestrian” is typical, sunny Green Day pop-punk.  It should be a single.  It takes a bouncy riff and “whee-ohh-whee” background exclamations to arena-rock heights.  Again, there’s no doubt this is Green Day, and this track could have easily been an out-take from their “Nimrod” album.  “27th Ave. Shuffle” blends early Stones, Who, and Beatles techniques together in a pop-rock stew.  Even though everything seems borrowed and effortless, it has it’s own new style.  Think about all the bands that have poorly tried to emulate Green Day and failed miserably.  Their level of skill is both underestimated and undeniable.  “Dark Side of Night” is a nifty slightly reverb-drenched, softer number, recorded on an old-school analog 4-track.  The acoustic guitar strumming, Mike Dirnt’s steady bass, and Cool’s reverberating beat all resonate, but the real highlight of the track is the dynamite flute solo.  It embraces its retro-feel, but it sounds strangely authentic.  The album closes with “Pieces of Truth,” an all-out rave-up that sounds like something that would’ve made the kids on “Shindig” go nuts and scream and yell.  It’s like a revved up answer to the Beatles’ version of “Twist and Shout” mixed with touches of “I Saw Her Standing There.”  The lively saxophone solo brings it all up to a whole other level of frantic greatness.  Green Day aren’t the first band to hide behind another band-name.  In the mid eighties, XTC gave themselves a psychedelic makeover and briefly began recording as the Dukes of the Stratosphear.  This isn’t even the first time Green Day have done this, since they are also most likely 3/5 of the Devo-esque band The Network, who in 2003 released a wonderfully robotic album, “Money Money 2020.” “Stop Drop and Roll!!! doesn’t pack the punch of “American Idiot,” but it’s not meant to.  It’s meant to be a back-to-basics exercise and a fun attempt at rock-and-roll bait and switch.  It’s simply a fun, rousing record.  I think the Foxboro Hot Tubs just might go places!

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