Music Review: Weezer’s “Raditude”

Originally posted 2009-11-15 22:22:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

RATING:  1 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

I was the first to scoff at early negative reviews of the new Weezer album.  It seemed there was an inordinate number of swipes at the admittedly odd title, Raditude.  After all, I reasoned, Rivers Cuomo hasn’t exactly built his career by being serious.

So, it was with high hopes that I started listening to Raditude.  From the opening track — “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” — it became immediately apparent that the lyrics would be juvenile.

And yet this was never a turn-off.

I had heard this song, the first single, about fifteen or twenty times before the album was even released.  It had been leaked on YouTube, then removed, then reposted by another source, and finally released officially as the single.  And, each time I heard it, I liked it more and more.  This is saying a great deal, considering that the song includes references to watching Titanic and eating meat loaf as key plot points.

The way I see it, there are two types of great Weezer songs:  introverted, introspective ballads and catchy, fun rock/pop gems.

Any serious Weezer fan who will disparage the quality of Cuomo’s lyrics in 2009 needs to think back to such earlier tracks as “No One Else” — “My girl’s got a big mouth, with which she blabbers a lot…” — and “Getchoo” — “Sometimes I push too hard; sometimes you fall and skin your knee…”  And can anyone even begin to transcribe the lyrics to “Hash Pipe”?

I didn’t think so.

Weezer's "Raditude" (2009)

Weezer's "Raditude" (2009)

So, the credibility and entertainment value of “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” being established, the other nine songs on Raditude should be addressed.  In a nutshell, the new album is generally a mixed bag — one part catchy guitar hooks, one part derivative stylistic choices, and two parts juvenile and (to be frank) ridiculous lyrics — that all amounts to a mediocre collection of material.

I’ve always been drawn to Rivers Cuomo’s firm embrace on the simple, pure, and raw emotions that we generally attribute to the innocence (and immaturity) of youth, but this time around, there is little for me to relate to or feel moved by.

“I’m Your Daddy” is about as two dimensional a song as you’ll ever find, stripped of Cuomo’s trademark quirky innocence to reveal an inexperienced Romeo.  It is also a bit creepy to listen to after learning that he began writing it while watching his daughter.

“The Girl Got Hot” is driven by catchy, distortion-drenched guitars, but again the lyrics fall short.  I kept waiting for a moral to the story — I would have settled for something as simple as “don’t judge a book by its cover” — but all I ended up with was the singer’s revelation that, when it comes to Kiki Dee’s friends, “She got hot, and they did not.”  Oh, and the phrase “buyer beware” is potentially problematic, but I won’t even go there.

Then comes the piece de la resistance, “Can’t Stop Partying.”  Again, I waited for the subtext that the lyrics must surely contain, considering the minor chords and Cuomo’s diction — “can’t stop” implies addiction.  And again, I was met with lines like “If you was me, honey, you would do it too” and “Screw rehab; I love my addiction.”  Just when I thought it couldn’t get less redeemable, Lil Wayne lays down a chauvinistic, obscenity laden ode to excess.

The remainder of the album is divided between forgettable, inane tracks — like “In the Mall” — and solid, albeit middle-of-the-road songs — like “Put Me Back Together.”  The latter track is one of my favorites from the new album, even though it is difficult to shake the feeling that this would have been a filler track on any earlier Weezer release.

Other tracks like “Let It All Hang Out” and “Love is the Answer” are debatable — on the upside, they do tap into the aforementioned pure, raw emotions that the band’s best material always has, yet there is nothing extraordinary about them.

At the end of the day, I have to reluctantly admit that my opinion is not so divergent from that of Slant reviewer Huw Jones — strictly in his opinion of this album, but NOT his opinion of Weezer’s overall career arc (he’s seriously off there).  Weezer has finally released an album that I can’t endorse — and that I, unfortunately, can’t listen to for very long without feeling disappointed.

The BEST COVER SONGS of 2011 (The Year-End Review Awards)

Originally posted 2012-01-16 10:00:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

What better way to kick off a Monday at the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music video blog than to unveil the Weekend Review’s picks for the top ten cover songs of 2011.  After all, this is kind of our thing.  And this has been a busy year for covers.  Not only were there two – not one, but two! – collections of Buddy Holly covers released as tribute to the legendary singer/songwriter in 2011, but there were also two covers EPs put out by Relient K.  This is not to mention Brian Wilson digging back to his childhood (farther back than the Gershwin brothers this time) for the inspiration to In the Key of Disney.

A regular amount of covers wasn’t enough for 2011.  No, no: 2011 needed more covers!  Now, as you’ll recall from our mission statement, it has always been the goal of this blog to put an end to the proliferation of bad covers on YouTube.  In keeping with that tradition, we will now take the time to recognize these non-YouTube covers that have demonstrated excellence this year, standing out from the pack of mediocre (or worse) ones:

1)  “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” – Cee Lo Green (Cover of Buddy Holly)

2)  “Caroline No” – America (Cover of the Beach Boys)

3)  “Here Comes My Girl” – Relient K (Cover of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)

4)  “Colors of the Wind” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)

5)  “Baby” – Relient K (Cover of Justin Bieber)

6)  “Not Fade Away” – Florence and the Machine (Cover of Buddy Holly)

7)  “Interstate Love Song” – Relient K (Cover of Stone Temple Pilots)

8)  “It’s So Easy” – Paul McCartney (Cover of Buddy Holly)

9)  “Listen to Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of Buddy Holly)

10) “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)

 

Honorable Mention:

“Surf Wax America” – Relient K (Cover of Weezer)

“No One Else” (Weezer Cover)

Originally posted 2008-02-22 14:22:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

It’s hard to believe “new bands week” is almost over! It’s been a lot of fun — hopefully we’ll do it again soon before we run out of new bands!

My song for today, “No One Else,” is from my second favorite Weezer album, their self-titled debut known among fans as “The Blue Album.” For some reason, I had a hard time getting into the album when I first heard it. When I listened again about a year later, I really fell in love with its sound and energy. It’s about as close to garage rock as my preferences go… I felt this song translated easily into an acoustic version, and it was fun to learn a song from a band I have never covered before!

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the seventh day of “new bands week” — Jeff’s up again. And, of course, don’t forget to check back here on Sunday when he releases his new album Greenlight!

Weezer’s “Hurley” (2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-10-18 21:57:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  3.5 / 5 stars

Simply put, Hurley is Weezer’s return to high energy rock music.

And it’s good.

Okay, so I’ll admit that it is difficult to take an album like Hurley seriously, given the ostensibly random title and accompanying cover photo that is apropos of nothing contained within.  And yet, you should endeavor to get past the cover, the pathetic excuse for CD packaging, and the bad press the album has received from those who, on the heels of Raditude, understandably won’t give it a chance, including — perhaps most notably — one James Burns, a man currently engaged in a campaign to raise $10 million as incentive for Weezer to break up.

I would suggest that he give this album a chance, but it turns out he not only is not but also has never been a fan of the band.

This is such a pity, as Hurley is an album so true to classic Weezer that it makes more sense to compare it to The Green Album (2001) than any of the four subsequent releases.  Aside from the echoes of Raditude on “Smart Girls,” the rock sensibility of Hurley extends past the experimental aura of The Red Album, doesn’t quite match the tone of Make Believe, and is certainly not cut out of the same carefully orchestrated hard rock fabric that defined Maladroit.

Musically, the track listing conjures those early albums: a total running time that barely cracks the half hour mark across ten songs with concise titles, all upbeat rock tracks with distorted guitars that play like a mix between garage rock and clean studio sounds.

As for the cover, I have never understood the criticism lobbed at The Red Album and Raditude.  Because a man who looks like a doll reading a newspaper wasn’t weird.  Neither, apparently, was several depressed looking cartoons wearing the traditional garb of the Orient wandering aimlessly around a snowy mountainside.  And four guys standing in front of a bright blue screen looking like they’d forgotten it was picture day wasn’t odd; that was somehow classic.

Hurley (Weezer, 2010)

Hurley (Weezer, 2010)

Weezer has always been quirky, and that has always been a large part of their appeal.  In a manner that should be palatable to the average rock fan, they have assembled Hurley as a return to that form, with a couple worthwhile variations thrown in for good measure.

The opening track and lead single “Memories” is honest, in-your-face rock music that begins with reminiscences that would have fit in comfortably on The Red Album, but quickly transitions to a catchy chorus and a middle stirred to perfection with a shredded vocal delivery by Rivers Cuomo.

He loosens the reigns vocally on several other occasions, not the least of which is that pinnacle of quirkiness “Where’s My Sex?,” the shtick here being that the word “sex” replaces the word “socks” throughout the song.  The result is a rocking, if somewhat ridiculous, track.

“Unspoken” is an acoustic gem, but even this song can’t help but rock out in the latter half, just as “Time Flies” wants to be the pensive closer, yet is so steady in beat as to evade the classification as a “slow song.”

Although many of the strongest tracks are placed early on the record — “Trainwrecks” being one, if not the, standout song — even the potentially mediocre numbers, like “Smart Girls” and “Brave New World,” achieve cohesion and momentum.  “Ruling Me,” “Run Away,” and “Hang On” are similarly impressive in their focus and balance between simplicity and interesting vocal and instrumental hooks.

This isn’t the new Weezer classic.  It shouldn’t be interpreted as the new Green Album, nor should it be compared to the heights of their career, in 1994 and 2002.  And yet, as much as Make Believe was underrated (and sadly oversimplified as “the one with ‘Beverly Hills’ on it”)  and as much as The Red Album grew on me and quickly became a favorite of mine in 2008, Hurley is arguably the best rock album Weezer has produced in eight years.

If nothing else, it provides proof positive that this band has not gone off the deep end (band-led hootenannies and Rivers Cuomo’s train conductor’s uniform notwithstanding). Hurley can be read as a nod to fans of their rock mentality, and the message is clear: this is a band that can still rock…. when they want to.