Hippo Manchester
December 22, 2005

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CD Reviews: American Edit, Dean Gray

A+

Feb. 24, 2004 inaugurated this millennium’s newest holiday: Grey Tuesday.

On that day, music lovers across the globe protested the bullying tactics of major music label lawyers by downloading DJ Dangermouse’s The Grey Album an “illegal” mash-up (i.e. radical remixing) of the Beatles The White Album with Jay-Z’s The Black Album.  The Grey Album was lauded as the best recording of 2004, it launched Dangermouse’s career (he can now be found as part of the art-punk supergroup Gorillaz) and reminded the labels that the work they profit from is both derivative and distinct. Frankly, that’s a good thing. The mash-up has quickly become the latest vanguard of artistry in an increasingly manufactured, emotionless music industry.

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the world celebrated its second Grey Tuesday (though this time called Gray Tuesday) by downloading American Edit, a mashup based on the Grammy Award winning American Idiot from Green Day. The pseudonymous Dane Gray collective behind Edit, has crafted new and intriguing music springing off of Green Day’s third-wave punk opus. A veritable constellation of music has been sampled, stripped, reworked and hot-glue gunned together to create an album that may very well surpass it’s forefather in brilliance. Hell, it’s hard to wrap your brain around the idea of Oasis, Green Day, Ashanti, Queen, Johnny Cash, Michael Jackson, George Bush and the Daleks from Dr. Who collaborating on a hip-hop inflected dance punk. But then you hear it and it’s good.

The punk energy of its predecessor has been rechanneled through techno and R&B to make infectious dance grooves in “Ashanti’s Letterbomb,” “American Jesus” and standout track “Dr. Who on Holiday.”

American Edit is an inspiring example of the possibility, artistry and craftsmanship of underground music. More than that it’s a reminder to every aging hipster who dismisses the music of the Millennial generation as trite that they are making something astonishing while you’re just sitting back scoffing cause, maybe, you’ve let yourself get old. Plus it’s free, albeit probably illegal.

— Glenn Given