Tag Archives: weezer

Weezer ‘Pinerton Deluxe Edition’ / ‘Death to False Metal’ – Reissue Review

13 Nov

The  story behind ‘Pinkerton’ is one of the most notorious in rock history. I wont go into it now, you can read about it on wiki, but lets just say that this was a difficult album to make and it’s had a pretty mad reception history – at one point it was disliked by just about everybody but somehow it went on to become one of the most respected albums of the 90’s. The band once refused to play any material from it live but in a few months they are going on a tour where they will be playing it back to front night after night. They now realize just how influential and important this album was – for better or worse it is pretty much responsible for emo as we now know it.

But Weezer are far superior to most bands we would call emo today and ‘Pinkerton’ is a masterpiece in being both emotionally explosive and musically restrained at the same time. The lyrics are about being depressed, anxious, in love , out of love, having too much sex, not having enough sex etc – It’s the open diary of a teenager and that’s the main reason so many people related to this record back in the day. And whilst Rivers was all over the place making it, musically this is very tight and well constructed piece of work, riffs sound huge but they are delivered almost economically and the guitar work is never indulgent or over the top. Witness the frustration in ‘Getchoo’ and ‘Tired of Sex’ and the way Rivers articulates uncertainty of young love in ‘Falling for you’.

The highlight is the beautiful closer ‘Butterfly’ which is probably the best thing Weezer have ever recorded, the melody is sheer perfection and the lyrics are thoughtful and touching, the softness is in brilliant contrast with the pop punk of the other nine songs. ‘Butterfly’ does for ‘Pinkerton’ what ‘Only In Dreams’ did for The Blue Album, it makes you rethink everything you thought you had learned about the group from listening to the other songs, it is a stunning end to the record. Blow for blow ‘Pinkerton’ doesn’t quite match The Blue Album in my opinion, though others will disagree, but this is a really fun and intelligent rock album that has stood the test of time.

However I do think that some (nostalgic middle-aged) critics rate ‘Pinkerton’ a bit too highly because whilst I agree that it is a great album in 2010 it’s hard to believe that this kind of heartfelt power pop was once considered so daring and inspired. Maybe that is the testimony to just how succesful ‘Pinkerton’ was, we hear it’s influence every day on the radio and because of that it’s hard for a newcomer to like this album quite as much as somebody who heard it for the first time in 1996. It’s also more of a touchstone for American music fans than it is for English ones, Weezer have always been more loved over there than they are here, just as Oasis will never truly feel at home in the USA. So whilst Pitchfork and Rolling Stone greet this reissue with overwhelming praise allow me to be a bit more reserved.

Out on the same day as the ‘Pinkerton’ reissue is a collection of more recent studio outtakes called ‘Death to False Metal’. Given that most of Weezer’s post Pinkerton output has been negatively received it’s fair to say that not many people will be excited about this album. But truth is, it’s not as bad as you might expect. The Weezer of  ‘Death to False Metal’ still sounds like the Weezer of ‘Pinkerton’, the guitars are still the same, the lyrical themes are pretty similar, they still make pop punk  and overall not a lot has changed. But that’s kind of the point, they aren’t young anymore and to hear middle-aged men still churning out the same stuff that they were making at 18 is a bit sad.

I’m not being ageist but do they still have to write songs wanting to be young when they blatently aren’t? It seems as they get older they get less mature and there is none of the wit and sophistication that defined ‘Pinkerton’. The songs on ‘Death to False Metal’ are also a lot more polished and lazy than the ‘Pinkerton’ stuff, It’s been known for a while that Rivers has big pop aspirations and these songs have definitely been produced for the radio and a mass audience, they have been overproduced to an unfortunate degree and the lyrics are often clichéd and trite.

There are some good songs though, ‘I Don’t Want Your Loving’ is a belting rocker with some doo wop harmonies and Brian May guitar, it works very well. ‘Blowin my Stack’ is a typical latter-day Weezer song about growing middle-aged disgracefully, and like the other Weezer songs about this subject it’s kind of catchy but also a bit cringey. Their cover of ‘Unbreak My Heart’ is the highlight of the album for me, although I can see some people hating it, but then I have always enjoyed the group’s odd covers.

I like my B-side collections to be comprehensive and chronological, this is neither and the fact that it focuses on newer material is also a shame. If you are going to buy one Weezer album this christmas make sure it’s ‘Pinkerton’ and not ‘Death to False Metal’, fans will eat it up but there isn’t much good stuff to recommend it to everyone else.

Pinkerton – 9/10

Death to False Metal – 4.5/10




Advertisements

Weezer ‘Hurley’ – Review

20 Sep

I saw Weezer at Leeds Festival this year and they nailed it. I half expected them to come on stage, slouched over their instruments and play a set of half-hearted album tracks, but instead they did all the hits whilst dancing around in wigs and kilts, jumping on mini trampolines and running out into the audience. Live they are clearly on top form but their output over the last decade has been a bit more sketchy. 2004’s ‘Make Believe’ was absolutely slated on release, ‘The Red Album’ got a worse rap than it deserved and last year’s ‘Raditude’ – well, the less said the better.

Rivers Cuomo is widely regarded as a pop genius and the band’s first two albums are as influential and highly regarded as anything released in the last twenty years. However the group’s last three albums (at least) have been pretty infamous for having some terrible material on display. At times Rivers was writing songs from the perspective of his teenage self, at other times he was writing songs for teenage Miley Cyrus fans. And when he wasn’t writing terrible songs by himself he was writing terrible songs with a whole host of guests.  Who could forget the awful Lil Wayne appearance on ‘Can’t Stop partying’ or Dr Luke on ‘I’m Your Daddy’. These songs tended to take the attention away from a handful of genuinely brilliant ones, including some stunning singles. The new album, ‘Hurley’, has been described by the band as a return to the rocking style but is this more hyperbole or could they be telling the truth?

Well, In a way they are telling the truth. This is certainly their most ‘rocking’ album in a decade and you might even call it a back to basics record, but there are still hints that they long for a real pop/r&b crossover, and Rivers is still keen to write with everyone and anyone in the industry. Thus we have songs on here co-written by everyone from Ryan Adams to Mac Davies and there is still the odd foray into the strange. Luckily though for the most part there is more of a reflective and grown up mood on ‘Hurley’ (ignoring ‘Where’s My Sex’, more on that later.) Opener ‘Memories’ is about how Rivers would like to go back to his youth, and the early days in the band – It’s a bit obvious and gooey but it’s effective, especially as it contains some great hooks. The same theme reappears on ‘Time Flies’ which is possibly the saddest conclusion to a Weezer album since ‘Only In Dreams’. It’s great stuff.

Unfortunately the maturity doesn’t hang around too long. A lot of the album is pretty lightweight both musically and lyrically. There is a great album in here somewhere, that much is blatantly obvious, you just wish that they didn’t have to turn everything into a joke. ‘Where’s My Sex’ is amusing for all of three seconds but it could have been so much more, a rocker in the vein of ‘Hash Pipe’ perhaps. ‘Smart Girls’ has some witty rhymes and a great opening line but there are hints that it could have been remembered for something more than that. It does make you wonder what happened to the thoughtful, articulate writer of ‘Only In Dreams’ and ‘Butterfly’.

But comparing this album to their past work is doing the band a real disservice. For so long websites and magazines have given recent Weezer albums a hard time for not living up to the band’s legacy, but how could anything the group release live up to those high watermarks. Taken on its own terms this is a fun and enjoyable album, and it shouldn’t be slated just because it isn’t as good as ‘The Blue album’. ‘Ruling Me’ is an instant stand-out and it contains the type of riffs Weezer built their career on, whilst ‘Trainwrecks’ is also undeniably catchy. ‘Hang On’ is excellent, it sounds like a huge hit in waiting, a ballad that seemingly ran away from home in the 80’s and ended up here. Overall there are far more enjoyable moments than there are cringey ones.

More and more Weezer are becoming a singles band rather than an albums band, and for a group that made two of the best alt rock records of all time, that is pretty disappointing but it’s not the end of the world. ‘Hurley’ is more than decent, and whilst it may not be as good as some people want Weezer fans must now accept the fact that the group will probably never make a classic album again. Rather than thinking of this as another failed attempt at greatness, except it for what it is (and what the band want it to be) – a load of fun.

P.S. This has got to be the best cover of all time, the album gets half a mark for that!

7/10

Surfer Blood ‘Astro Coast’ – Review

29 Jan

Surfer Blood implies anger. It implies danger. It implies surfing. actually ‘Astro Coast’ is neither angry, dangerous or about surfing (though it is mentioned once or twice in the lyrics). ‘Astro Coast’ is in fact a rather straight-forward and enjoyable alt-pop debut that plays with your preconceived expectations.

If you’re aware of this band at all it will probably be for their single ‘Swim’ that featured on many end of year lists in December (including mine). The song is a Weezer-esque, reverb heavy TUNE (capital letters essential) that is still easily the best thing the band has done. The song that comes closest to matching ‘Swim’ in brilliance is the album’s closing statement ‘Catholic Pagen’. There is a lot less feedback on this song and it has more of a traditional indie sound with hints of doo wop in the guitar.

Other highlights include ‘Floating Vibes’, ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Fast Jobroni’ (it’s brother ‘slow jabroni’ is a bit of a slog). These tracks all display a knack for melody and a massive riff that is a bit unusual nowdays. Their lo-fi rivals are all making fairly simple pop songs, whilst their touring buddies The Drums (who they have been compared to) are nowhere near as in your face. Surfer Blood have the confidence to turn out guitar songs with attitude.

The album flows well despite touching upon many genres and sounds. At moments they really let loose with the feedback and reverb whilst they aren’t afraid to use strings and synths to add colour to each song. At times they let the music drag and when this happens things become a bit stale. ‘Anchorage’ is six minutes of nothing that shouldn’t be on here whilst a handful of these tracks could benefit from a bit of editing. ‘Slow Jabroni’ gets brilliant in the final couple of minutes, but to reach the climax you will have to listen to four minutes of barely audiable vocals and droning guitars. It makes you wonder if it was worth it.

Surfer Blood’s debut arrived in America last week but as of yet it isn’t available in this country (although it can be downloaded from Digital7). The album is slightly unambitious yet very well executed, a bit dreary in parts yet gloriously euphoric most of the time. The riffs are a bit predictable, the lyrics are traditional fare and the reverb is a bit to try hard. But overall ‘Astro Coast’ is a pleasing, memorable debut. They may not set turntables alight just yet, but this is a warm slice of indie fun for the cold winter months.

8/10

TEN TO WATCH IN 2010 – #5 SURFER BLOOD

18 Jan

Like The Drums, Surfer blood have been assosiated with the surfing scene despite rejecting those associations. It’s their own fault really but they actually don’t have much in common with Dick Dale or The Ventures. Their sound is more like the fuzzy pop of Weezer or, to be more relevent, the retro lo-fi of Girls. Their debut album ‘Astro Coast’ is out at the end of the month in the States, but no word on if or when it will be getting’s release over here, but the sooner the better.

http://www.myspace.com/surferblood