Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'll Give You Four: Weezer (Red Album)

Today is the first day of my second week of the new semester. This means I have completed my first week. It's not rocket science. . .

Either way, I foresee a busy schedule that will pull me every which way, but I still hope to at the very least post this type of column every Sunday (and as it is, this will be up on Monday). But no excuses, because I was off today, but I chose to spend the first half of my day lounging around, switching channels between the Little League World Series Championship (Chula Vista, CA beat Chinese Taipei to win the whole kit-n-kaboodle; USA! USA!) and the final round of the Barclays Championship, a golf tournament that held some serious dramatics, as a 20-foot putt separated the winner (Heath Slocum, I believe) from what would have been a five-player playoff (that would have included Paddy Harrington, Ernie Els, and the man himself, Tiger Woods). Great stuff on the sports front today. . . (as a footnote, the second half of my day was spent working out - first time in at least a month - walking Leia, straightening up the apartment, and doing some research online - today was a not a wasted day)

But that's not why you are here today (although I do intend to post an NFL preview before the season starts here in two weeks. It's time for my second installment of I'll Give You Four, where I give you four reasons why something that I find entertaining, brilliant, or a mixture of the two, should be viewed, listened to, or experienced by you, my faithful readers. This week, I'll go to something simple and easy for me to advocate for, my favorite band and their most recent album (in light of their new album, which will be released in October).


Weezer's sixth album was released on June 3, 2008. For fans like me, it was excitement-filled, because it was their first album since 2005's MAKE BELIEVE, which wasn't as good as their older albums (although, in my opinion, "Beverly Hills" is still one of their catchiest songs to date and is one of the more fun songs to listen to). The single "Pork and Beans" was a video sensation, as it showcased celebrities of the Youtube community.

But the album did not receive the greatest reviews, and apparently this is a common thing with Weezer. The internet explodes with opinions whenever they put anything out and it's divided down a fine line and usually results in people saying that they have not succeeded in anything since their first two albums (The Blue Album and Pinkerton). As someone who can always find a silver lining in anything that they produce, allow me to turn the tables on all those naysayers out there and show you why Weezer is the best around. Now I am no ROLLING STONE music reviewer and the only instrument I can play is the radio, so my opinion is rooted only in desire to listen to music. I listen to everything from country to rap, but no matter who, what, when, where, or why, I'm always in the mood for Weezer, especially The Red Album, which in my opinion, is their best all around disc to date!


1) Rivers being Rivers

Just like Manny Ramirez, who had that statement practically trademarked for himself (Manny being Manny), lead singer and band leader Rivers Cuomo is a very unique individual. He does things how he wants to do them and his quirks shine through. Again, people quote from the new song (which has a line about wearing "Slayer t-shirts") and say that he is just digging into the well too often and trying to be hip with his allusions to other bands as well as pop culture. But why is this a bad thing? "In the Garage" (from Blue) mentions "my favorite rock group KISS". "Only In Dreams" (also Blue) has a line that says "You say it's a good thing/That you float in the air/That way there's no way I will crush your pretty toenails to a thousand pieces". Not everyday lingo. But that's who he is. I mean, hell, "P,"ork and Beans" itself says "I'm gonna do the things that I want to do/I ain't got a thing to prove to you"! My favorite part of that song is that he says "I don't give a hoot about what you think". Only Weezer brings out the "hoot" instead of the profanity, and maybe that's why I appreciate them. Their vocabulary is slightly bigger than that of your average rock band.

2) Everyone Sings

Every member of Weezer does the lead vocals in at least one song on The Red Album. This threw me at first, as I wasn't sure who I was listening to! But when I listened to them over and over (as I am to do with anything Weezer does) I realized that it changed the style up only slightly and gave it a different breath that I totally enjoyed. In fact, one of the best songs on the whole album is "King" which you can read about in this excerpt from good ol' Wikipedia:

""King" is the last song on the deluxe edition of the Weezer album and is sung by Scott Shriner. In the liner notes for the deluxe edition Scott says that the song was not being voted by the rest of the band but was one of his favorite tracks from the demos Rivers played for the band. One day Scott called up Rivers and demanded the band add the song on the album, Rivers responded by saying that if he [Scott] wanted the song so bad he should sing it, and so he did."

It just adds a different feel to the album. And I in particular found it to be a fun addition!

3) Classic Sound

I remember popping in the CD for the first time and hearing "Troublemaker", the first track, start up. Those first 10 seconds or so sound like classic Weezer to me. I immediately got a smile on my face and said "They're back," because even I, an eternal Weezer optimist, felt like they had taken a step back with their most recent efforts. "Pork and Beans" has a guitar riff that bleeds Weezer sound. And unlike "Make Believe", where they practically used the same music as a previous song (listen to the introduction to "Perfect Situation" and then go back to the Green Album and listen to "Simple Pages" - undeniably similar), they tweaked their classic music just enough to feel like they were doing something new and fresh while still staying true to their roots. "Heart Songs" is a ballad that reeks of Weezerization (just made that up!) with their ode to all the bands that made them who they are (as a sidenote, every single time I listen to this song I get goosebumps when he says "our song come on the radio/now people go "this is the song"" - - Rivers gets that his music is important to people and I know what that means to an aficianado like that because of the way he writes his songs). All in all, I feel that the songs they put together show an updated version of the old-school Weezer, and that's what made the album pop to me.

4) "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)

And this song is the biggest reason for why this is a great album. Constructed of distinctively different parts, it is broken up into almost mini-songs that combine to form what I consider the greatest Weezer song ever. It's brilliance is in its originality and its sound, which is different than anything I had ever heard. The bassist, Scott Shriner, agrees with me about its brilliance by describing it as a "masterpiece that includes ten different styles of music based around a common theme." I have no idea how they created the different sounds within this song (although I definitely hear police sirens at one point) but it never misses. Each part of the song (including a small section where Rivers is really just talking) leads up to a great chorus of "I am the greatest man that ever lived/I was born to give" while a choir of voices behind him echoes his words. What a song to listen to as you head into work and your confidence is a little shaky! I would have paid full album price for this song alone, and yet, there are many others that are almost as perfect as this one (among them, "Dreamin" and "Troublemaker").

- - -

Well I hope I convinced you to go put $10 or so towards a great album that you will be listening to for years to come. One year and three months after its release, five of the songs off this album appear in my TOP 10 MOST PLAYED list on my iTunes account. It is a step above everything else that is out there right now (I can't believe some of the crap on the radio - which is why I don't listen to mainstream radio) and it only gives me hope for their new album coming out in October (awesomely titled "Raditude" - and if that doesn't scream "Weezer" I don't know what does!)

That's all for now - if I don't hop back on this week (I hope to get a movie review of THE FINAL DESTINATION up here soon) then I'll meet you back here next Sunday for the next installment of I'LL GIVE YOU FOUR. . .

Have a night!

1 comment:

Fletch said...

To be honest, outside of their first one, I don't think I've listened to a full Weezer album. It's not out of dislike or anything; they've just never been tremendously appealing to me, even though I would say that I like them enough. Perhaps I'll give this one the full go sometime.