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So the year is 1994 and Jon Thwaits and I are working together at this po-dunky little dollar movie theatre. Mann Theatres is a perfect place for us to hang out, talk music, and get paid 4.25 an hour to do so. John Heidenreich had just told us about this new band that he happened to see and tape on Conan O'Brian a few nights before. The band was called Weezer and the lead singer was this short dude with long bowl cut hair and black framed glasses. The lead guitarist was sporting a Cub Scout hat and the bassist was off the wall, dancing and grooving around all to the tune of a song called "Undone." After watching that performance our 16-year-old lives were immediately changed for the better. What made the deal sweeter, was that we found their debut album to be full of other sweet, perfect rock songs that all at once delighted, moved and inspired us. We were hooked. Over the next few years I saw Weezer play at small shows 3 or 4 times. Each time we went to a concert, we were able to meet and hang with the band afterwards (not as their homies, but as loyal fans getting autographs and pictures). I was a member of the fan club and would talk with Mykel and Carlie often about their adventures.
But it wasn’t just being a fanboy that made Weezer so special to us. We loved their tunes. Every song on Blue made us want to be rock stars. Mostly because every song on Blue is amazing. Think about it for a minute. Maybe with only the exception of Buddy Holly, every song inspires some kind of unique feeling: Jonas, No One Else, Say it Ain’t So, Holiday, Only in Dreams-- There was something about those songs that changed me as a person. Seriously.
So I go back to the question I began this entry with—What happened? When Pinkerton came out, I was so pleased that in many ways they delivered again. I remember listening to it for the first time sitting in the bed of a pick-up the day it was released on some headphones. When that first solo on Tired of Sex went down, I literally had tears in my eyes. Why Bother, El Scorcho, Getchoo and as always some of the B-sides from the singles (from Blue: Susanne, then Devotion & I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams—so sweet) continued to speak to me on some other level. But I could hear something in some of those tunes. Something seemed a little funny. Too bad it had to be four years before I could find out what.
In 2000 when Green came out, I had such high hopes. Rivers’ only release between the two albums (American Girls) allured me with the hopes that my boys would be back in action. Hash Pipe was pretty rockin’ but when I bought the album on its release date I was devastated. What happened? Why does every song sound the same? Where are the sweet guitar solos? What happened to all of the emotion? It was gone. And I am afraid to say that for the most part it has never come back.
Maladroit was a little better. It has a few tunes on there that I really like: Burndt Jamb and Death and Destruction among them—but most of the songs still sounded like Green leftovers. To make matters worse, Weezer’s commercial success had skyrocketed during the last few years and so it seemed to me that they were being reinforced for writing crappy music! So aggravating.
Because I am not one to give up hope, when I started to read Karl’s descriptions of the new stuff being written for the latest album Make Believe, I got my hopes up again. Rick Rubin was said to be producing the recording, and I thought to myself, finally! This is going to be it! Even Pat Wilson, the coolest dude in the world, was dissin on the other albums and saying that this new album was the best since Pinkerton.
Then it came out. So, so sad. The only really good song on it (This is Such A Pity) is one that is a total departure from their regular sound—and this is why it is so good! Because their “regular sound” can now be summed up with crap like Slave, Crab, Smile…(sigh) maybe it’s the single word titles. I am out of explanations.
Unfortunately--and this is an update written several years after the initial post, the Red Album (with the exception of "I am the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived" and "Miss Sweeney" also was lack-luster, and Raditude? Wow. It stinketh through and through. (update: Hurley came out. I didn't even buy it)
So I pose these questions for discussion:
1. Why does a band who seems to recognize and be capable of writing really great, unique songs fill three albums with virtually the same song rerecorded with different lyrics?
2. What happened to the feelings that inspired Only In Dreams? Why haven’t they recorded a single jam song since OID when they must be the funnest songs to play on stage, and are by nature so emotional?
3. Can we blame Rivers?
4. Do you think there is any connection between the fact that ever since Matt Sharp left the band it has never been as good as it was to begin with?
5. Am I being too critical? Are Green, Maladroit and Make Believe actually some of the band’s best work? If so, how do you figure?