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.

“Shoe Box” (Barenaked Ladies Cover)

Originally posted 2009-03-10 22:49:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Tonight, another event in my ongoing tribute entitled, “Steven Page, we hardly knew ye.”  Steven Page leaving Barenaked Ladies has been traumatic for me, musically.  It’s like if John left the Beatles and the band went on without him.  They’d still be a great band with three songwriters, singers, and musicians, but you would always wonder if they’ll ever get back together, etc…

At first, I likened Steven Page leaving Barenaked Ladies after 20 years to Brian Wilson taking a self-inflicted leave from the Beach Boys starting in late 1967.  But, I then realized that Page leaving BNL is much worse in a way, but better in another.

You see, when Brian Wilson stopped making music with the Beach Boys on a regular basis (and being the producer), the other Boys (Carl, Dennis, Mike, Al, and Bruce) hadn’t really been accomplished songwriters yet.  I mean, it took them until 1968 to really put together an album and it definitely sounds like a first effort in many ways.  We were all just lucky to discover five brilliant songwriters behind Brian Wilson.  In many ways, for me, Brian recessing in the Beach Boys contributes to my love of the band because, well, they really became a band after that.  You had five songwriting members that played instruments and sang and went out and played concerts- that incarnation of the Beach Boys is almost unsurpassed, for me.

With Steven Page, he leaves the band with three accomplished songwriters (especially Ed Robertson, with a #1 single in “One Week” under his belt) and some fine singers, to boot.  So, BNL has a bit of a head-start.  In fact, there shouldn’t be too much of a hiccup, other than Page’s recent flurry of depressing songs and over-the-top oparetta vocals.

The thing that makes Page’s absence worse is that, at least for the forseeable future, it’s permanent.  With the Beach Boys, Brian was always still around in some form.  He always contributed at least one song to every album, even if they had to dig it up and force him to complete it.  Fans would always hope for the next Brian Wilson gem and it was comforting to know he was there, readying himself for a possible comeback that never really came.  Of course, I say this like I was there- I wasn’t even alive until after Brian’s amazingly talented brother Dennis died- I’m just speaking from what I’ve read in the past.

So, after that whole explanation, I’m really trying to say that I’m having a hard time getting over the restructuring of my second-all-time favorite band.  Tonight’s video is a little tribute to Steven Page.

“Shoe Box” (which I always thought was “Shoebox”) was a single and had its own EP (with includes a decent song in “Trust Me’) and served as a bridge between the style of the first three albums and the albums to follow (starting with “Stunt”).  The song was also on “Born On A Pirate Ship” in a much more subdued tone, much to that version’s detriment.  The rockin’ single version is my choice, and that’s what I did my video after.  How can you tell them apart?  Well, the album verison just starts off with the instruments and vocals at the same time.  The single goes through the chord progression before Steven Page starts in.

Listen to the words closely on this one- a very interesting message to it.  Also, you may have to look up the words, as it took Chris and I about five years to realize that he’s not saying, “And Rumplestiltskin side my shoe box!” and is in fact saying, “When talk turns to single malts and Stilton and my shoe box!”  Who would’ve thought?

Okay- a long post tonight to make up for last week.  Tomorrow night, I have a BIG announcement about my new album and that just means more work for me.  So, you’ll have to stay tuned until another all-new Original Wednesday comes your way!  Have a great night and I’ll catch you all tomorrow!



“The Way It Is” (Bruce Hornsby Cover)

Originally posted 2008-05-04 19:57:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Welcome to your Sunday installment of the Laptop Sessions! Coming on the heels of Number Ones week, I decided to play one of my father’s favorite songs from Bruce Hornsby & the Range, “The Way It Is.” Only after I recorded it did I realize that it, in fact, was a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in 1986! So, it appears that I’m subconsciously having a hard time leaving the #1 songs behind…

I remember making mock-radio shows on my stereo when I was in middle school, even before I owned a CD player. I used to make shows for my father to listen to while he was working in the garage, so I wanted to find music that he would enjoy. I spent countless hours with a blank cassette tape in the stereo and switching stations constantly, waiting intently to hear a disc jockey announce that “The Way It Is” would be on next. I finally got a version recorded for my show, but I got to the record button a bit slowly, so a good chunk of the intro was cut off.

I did buy him the Bruce Hornsby greatest hits CD years later, when I finally caught up with technology.

I really love this song for a couple reasons. I love how it’s powered by piano, but sacrifices none of the soloing and backbeat that I value in rock music. I also love how the chorus is built around the G – Fmaj7 – C riff (which I duplicated in only a rudimentary fashion). The song was also a lot of fun to sing!

I should mention that everything that could have possibly interrupted my recording did, in fact, interrupt my recording today. My first take was lost for the incredibly raucous chirping of the birds downstairs. (Yes, that’s right–I wasn’t even on the same floor with them). My second take was lost due to stubbornness, as I refused to close my door and the birds continued to chirp. A later take was lost to the vibrating of my cell phone.

The funniest by far, and certainly the most ironic was when my cell phone alarm went off loudly during a good take — it was the alarm I had set to remind me to record a Laptop Session today!

My most perfect take was lost when I forgot the second to last line of the final verse. But, this one will have to do!

Thanks for watching; I hope you’ll leave a comment for me if you liked the song or have any requests for future songs.

See you next session!



“If You Leave Me Now” (Chicago Cover)

Originally posted 2008-04-27 22:38:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to the start of “#1 Week”, where Chris Moore, Jeff Copperthite, and I are playing only songs that topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts, except for Original Wednesday, of course. But, I hope that the song I play on Original Wednesday will be a contender for a #1 week in the future! :-)

Tonight, I bring you a song that I just can’t get enough of. It’s Chicago’s first #1 hit and was written by the great Peter Cetera.

It’s a slow song, but has a great tune and some great chords. The only problem with the song is that it marked the beginning of Chicago’s “power ballad” phase. It was fruitful for them, yes, but it was also the end of their highly creative rock-n-roll style.

This is one of my favorite performances and I hope it ends up being even more popular than my first Chicago video, “Wishing You Were Here” ( http://laptopsessions.com/archives/26 ).