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.

Weezer’s “Death to False Metal” (2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-11-15 11:00:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  3 / 5 stars

Didn’t I already write a Weezer review this year?  And last year?  And the year before that?

Yes, on all three counts.

So, allow me to begin with the disclaimer that Death to False Metal, though it receives only a half star lower than the rating I granted Hurley, is not as cohesive an effort in comparison.  The individual songs shine in places and come up short in others.  It is, after all, a collection of songs that, for various reasons, didn’t make the cut on their previous studio albums.

What is fascinating about this release — and what grants credibility to Rivers Cuomo’s stance that this should be considered Weezer’s ninth studio album proper — is that the songs haven’t simply been culled from studio tapes, digitized, and hastily thrown together.  As the official press release reads, “The album was created using the basic tracks of 10 previously unreleased recordings — nine never-before-heard songs plus one cover — to assemble a brand new and truly modern-sounding record.”

This is what is most striking about the album on first listen: that it sounds like an album.  Considering that the tracks hail from periods as diverse as Pinkerton, Maladroit, Make Believe, and The Red Album, this could very easily have sounded like your typical “Greatest Misses” compilation.  Some, like Bob Dylan, have pulled off this brand of release, largely due to the fact that their vaults are populated by excellent cuts.  Most, however, release these compilations for the enjoyment of only the most fanatic segments of their audience.

On Death to False Metal, Cuomo and company have introduced a third option: remake the songs as one might restore a car, balancing a faithfulness to the original design with an attention to more contemporary sensibilities.

Death To False Metal (Weezer, 2010)

Death To False Metal (Weezer, 2010)

As could be expected, even with a band with as characteristic a sound and feel as Weezer, there is still a sense that these tracks have been compiled.  The transition from the grunge of “Everyone” to the glittery pop/rock of “I’m a Robot” is particularly noticeable.  What’s more, both of these tracks fall firmly under the “I-see-why-they-were-scratched” category.  Still, there is an energy to them that is infectious, and if you enjoy this band’s style, you will find yourself turning up the sound.  Although these two songs have the potential to become grating, they also clock in at well under three minutes each.

Elsewhere, the simplicity is appealing, as it is on “Trampoline” and “I Don’t Want Your Loving.”  And “Turning Up the Radio” is yet one more reminder that, simple or not, Weezer are the kings of the epic chorus.

The decision to work from the basic tracks up is what sets this release apart and what makes it a solid album.  If you want to split hairs about the quality of individual songs, even in comparison to other Weezer tunes, then you could lose yourself in the criticism and find, in the end, that you’d missed the point of the album.

The point, as supported by the opener, is to turn up the volume and enjoy a set of songs that have been filtered through the Weezer of 2010, which — contrary to what critics (myself included) were concluding as recently as a year ago — is actually saying a great deal.

The packaging itself is impressive as it so very rarely is with this band.  Much of the obvious has been stated and restated as concerns the cover, but little has been noted about the presence of lyrics, pictures, drawings, and other elements of intelligent design within the booklet.

The fact that two staples were required for assembly is, in itself, pleasantly surprising.

So, if you’re tired of what passes for rock on mainstream radio, pick up a copy of Death to False Metal.  It won’t change your life and it probably won’t make your end-of-year top ten list, but it will be an album you’ll crank up and enjoy over and over again.  Even the Toni Braxton cover that concludes the disc is surprisingly consistent with the tenor of the previous tracks.  And, if you manage to block out all memories of nineties radio and half-drunken karaoke nights at your local bar, then you might even think it’s a decent song.

After a questionable 2009, Weezer has returned with two of the most enjoyable and respectable releases of 2010.  Death to False Metal may be an “odds and ends” album, to borrow the language of early band chatter, but it holds its own against the very strong Hurley.

“Raditude” Revisited – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-09-04 23:30:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For my initial review of Raditude, click HERE.

By Chris Moore:

RATING: add a star or so

While I’m not convinced that I hit all that far from the mark in my first review of Weezer’s Raditude (2009), subsequent listens have led me to view the sequencing of the songs, if not the songs themselves, in a new light.

If my reviews were based solely on the music, lyrics, and album art, then perhaps I would have made the observations that follow a year ago.  And yet, reviews, at least to some degree, take into account the band members, their past work, and various other factors, not least of which is the reviewer’s state of mind at the time of the review.

So, I present the following reading of Raditude to exist beside my previous review, rather than to replace it.  In many ways, my first review is the superior one, and yet…

Raditude is one of those rare albums I’ve reviewed that deserves to be revisited.

Allow me to suggest the following reading of the album:

“(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” kicks it all off with an innocence and — more importantly to the texture of the album — a passive tone that contrasts significantly with the several tracks that follow.  On the opening track, Rivers Cuomo tells the object of his affections to “make a move cuz I ain’t got all night.”

The song concludes with an imagining of a time in this cute relationship when they “have nothing left to say.”  As Cuomo sings, “When the conversation stops and we’re facing our defeat, I’ll be standing there, and you’ll be right there next to me. Then I’ll say…”  This is followed by the chorus, suggesting that the singer will face adversity in their relationship by awaiting action from his other half.

This hardly seems like the rhetoric of a match made in heaven.

In the subsequent track, “I’m Your Daddy,” the singer retains the typically quirky, Cuomo-esque persona we’ve come to expect.  Sure, the singer is approaching a beautiful woman, viewed as a conquest tale, but his idea of “what it is I do” is splitting a cheese fondue over dinner and being prepared to “ape a goombah,” whatever that means exactly.

In other words, this is the sort of storyline we’ve come to expect from Weezer, although the motivation isn’t usually quite so stereotypical and superficial.

Weezer's "Raditude" (2009)

“The Girl Got Hot” is a study in leading with your crotch.  The divergence here is clear and nearly complete.  (I say “nearly” because, after all, Cuomo still needs to get up “the nerve” to approach her, and his pick-up line is the not-so-original “Hey baby, what’s up?”)  Still, this song doesn’t entirely alienate itself from Weezer’s previous work.  Cuomo’s sensitivity is there — “I knew this girl back in junior high school,” he sings, suggesting he was on at least somewhat familiar terms with her.

And it’s not as though songs like “No One Else” are studies in feminism.

The wheels really come off in “Can’t Stop Partying,” an unapologetic celebration of debauchery.  It has been suggested that this is a parody — or at least a statement intended towards — modern pop songs, but Cuomo has always been a writer who wears his heart on his sleeve.  This songs lives too much in the moment for it to be read as anything quite so metafictional.  Still, the f-word — the first use of it in any of their songs — is censored in the lyrics booklet.  Take that as you may.

“Put Me Back Together,” my favorite songs on the album after the opener, is a return to the quirky narrator who describes himself saying, “my clothes they don’t match, and my blue jeans need a patch.”  This song could be taken as evidence that the previous tracks should be read in the context of the album as a whole.  As Cuomo sings, “It’s cold outside, would you let me come inside, and make it right?  Here it’s clear that I’m not getting better.  When I fall down you put me back together.”

Quite the contrast from “Can’t Stop Partying” when he sang, “Screw rehab, I love my addiction.”

In the next track, he is not “trippin’ on my own feet” as he was in “Put Me Back Together;” now, he is “Trippin’ Down the Freeway” with the love of his life, overcoming adversity with a “will that won’t fade out” to be together.  Here, the singer is still conflicted, declaring “You withheld the physical love I need” but admitting that “‘Girl, I got to be with you.'”

It all evens out in “Love is the Answer,” as he sings, “You’re gonna find your happiness inside.”  This track provides such a departure from the aesthetics of “Can’t Stop Partying” that the listener may be left wondering if that track ever existed to begin with.

Weezer revisits the party theme again in “Let it All Hang Out,” a song about the singer escaping from the concerns of a fight with his girlfriend and stressful situations at work.  “In the Mall,” another purely fun song, regresses to childhood to continue along the theme of escaping everyday obligations.

“I Don’t Want to Let You Go” concludes a divided album on a decidedly Cuomo-esque note, as he sings of his devotion to a girl as, “I have lost all hope for being normal once again; I will be a slave to you until the bitter end.  Even if it’s a hundred years before you change your mind, I will be here waiting girl until the end of time.”

If you decide to read Raditude as an album of contradictions and internal conflict, as I do, then it is clear which side has won out in the end.

It’s the side that makes me excited for their next album, to be released next month, less than a year later.

Like the title, it is unclear whether the album is meant to be taken seriously or not.  In many ways, the title is a fitting one, as the album is concerned with the decision to either follow one’s heart or to be cool.  Often, it is difficult or even impossible to have both at the same time.

So, is this a Weezer concept album that everyone — including myself — overlooked the first time around?  Probably not.  It’s probably just me reading too far into an initially disappointing album from one of my favorite bands, attempting to reason out why it is better than I initially believed.  All the same, my concern was never with the music: I was solely disappointed by the lyrical content, much in the same way that I have been unable to take the leap from respecting to enjoying Green Day’s American Idiot (2004).

The lyrics haven’t improved in my estimation, but my digestion of them has.

For the sake of all the other disappointed Weezer fans, I had to share.

“Automatic” (Weezer Cover)

Originally posted 2008-08-26 19:25:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Welcome to a fresh new Tuesday installment of the best acoustic cover song music blog series in the universe! That’s right — not just the country or the world, but the universe! Of course, I said the series is good, so that doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be any good, so you’ll just have to take your chances tonight…

Tonight’s music video is an acoustic cover from the new Weezer (Red Album). “Automatic” is track nine of ten — a powerhouse of an electric number with a great distortion guitar riff — and written by drummer Pat Wilson. I read that Wilson actually played the guitar for this one and frontman Rivers Cuomo sat at the drums. If you search YouTube videos like I did, you’ll find that there are some live versions of the songs from the Red Album already available and the one for “Automatic” is definitely worth checking out, if only for the alternative arrangement of the band.

I love to see when the bands I love switch it up a bit and allow other members to take the center stage, if only briefly. Some great bands that have done this on a regular basis are the Band, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Barenaked Ladies, the Moody Blues, and — now — Weezer! Still, many of my favorite musicians and bands are really one-man shows with a band to support them. Take Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers) and Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) just for a couple examples. Dylan and Duritz are two of my favorite songwriters, and although I like their bands, it is really their songwriting and lead singing that makes me love the bands and continue to buy their albums.

Even as I’m writing this, I can only think of one real exception to this songwriter-over-band preference of mine. Namely, Matchbox Twenty. I love Matchbox Twenty, and I have since their first album. I have bought every album and even loved their recent EP. But I just didn’t understand why Rob Thomas had to go off separately and try a solo career. For all intents and purposes, he really IS Matchbox Twenty. I mean, up until the EP, he wrote literally every song on each of their releases!

Exception aside, I have thoroughly enjoyed the new Weezer album, and I hope you have too. If you haven’t, you should really check it out. I found that the first couple tracks threw me a bit at first, but I quickly fell in love with a number of the songs — such as “Though I Knew” (a previous Laptop Session I recorded) and “Miss Sweeney” (a bonus track on the special edition).

Well, I’m off to do some work to promote all the great things happening here at the music blog. If you haven’t already, you should really check out the past couple days’ worth of posts — there is some great stuff, and much of it is FREE! There are live concert tracks, TNA pictures, and of course, great acoustic cover songs!

And, guess what?… Jeff Copperthite will be back tomorrow to post yet another all-new awesome acoustic cover, so don’t miss it…

See you next session!