Thursday, June 5, 2008

Red Falls Between Silver and Gold

Today, three very important things happened:

1. Three black boys wearing women's clothing, Uggs, and odd piercings were arrested at The Bookstore for shoplifting. They were seriously like 16 year old boys with very tight shirts, girl's tight jeans, girl Uggs, and earrings that spelled out "Danielle." They all had the same pair of earrings oddly enough. The thing I wondered the most, though: were they trying to steal men's clothing or women's?

2. I bought Weezer's Red Album, which I will review in a second.

3. I finally embraced the digital music distribution.

Weezer debuted with The Blue Album in 1994. Seven years later, they came out with The Green Album. Seven more years later, they've returned with their wackiest and most experimental album yet--The Red Album. This album is all over the place, and I fuckin' love it save 2 or 3 songs, which are okay at best. Before I proceed with a track by track commentary, I must give the disclaimer that I truly believe this album is only great for the true fans and the band itself. Here we go.

"Troublemaker"-the irresistibly catchy album opener. Rivers here pretty much announces the theme of the album: we are gonna do whatever the fuck we want and have a good time doing it. It's very different from their first album opener ever "My Name Is Jonas," where Rivers more or less gave the attitude of "this is who we are, we hope you like it." The lyrics are pretty simple and somewhat stupid, though.

"The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)"--Weezer's first of two over six minute songs. It has a complete schizophrenic feeling as the band switches different genres from power ballad to hard rock to Eminem-like rap. Many critics have railed this song because of its lack of focus. It just jumps around too many genres too quickly, they say. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I respectfully disagree: anyone ever hear a song called "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen?

"Pork and Beans"--I still love this fucking song. See other Weezer post below for commentary. The video is pretty sweet, but it didn't quite work for me since I already saw South Park do nearly the same thing--but with a lot more violence and shots to the head.

"Heart Songs"--The album's best song. Rivers leads us through his musical journey as he reflects back on listening to bands from ABBA to Devo to Iron Maiden. Great lyrics with a sweet soothing guitar. Instead of the typical lovely girl Rivers writes about, he writes about his other big love in life: music. The line about Nirvana is especially amazing. "Back in 1991 I wasn't having any fun / Until my roommate said 'Cmon' and put a brand new record on / It had a baby on it, he was naked on it / And then I heard the chord that broke the chains upon me." Truly a testament to the power of music and its personal impact on people.

"Everybody Get Dangerous"--Another fun song about being stupid and doing stupid shit. It seems like Weezer wanted to make a rock song that people could dance to. I do admit, though, some of the shit Rivers thinks is dangerous and fatal, well, they're kinda lame. Then again, he's from the Midwest.

"Dreamin'"--Definitely one of the three songs I can live without on this album. I mean, I dig the music, but the lyrics are incredibly cheesy. "I'm dreamin' in the morning / I'm dreaming all through the night / And when I'm dreamin' I know that it's all right." The music does get dream-like as the progression and form changes when Brian Bell's vocals kick in, but Rivers, what happened,? You used to know how to rhyme. The song also could have done without the very last four lines of lyrics, in which "I don't wanna get with your program" is repeated three times.

"Thought I Knew"--Here is where Weezer starts taking risks. Brian Bell wrote the song and sings on this one. When a song does not have Rivers singing, it immediately disorients me. I first think, "This ain't the Weeze." However, as a song, I love it. The lyrics aren't too simplistic or cheesy, and that soloing guitar throughout is just fuckin' sweet. It's a catchy midtempo song. Rivers even plays drums on it, and Patrick switches to guitar! I dig it.

"Cold Dark World"--Another mix-up as bassist Scott Shriner sings Rivers' lyrics. You can definitely tell they are his lyrics, but the change in voice and somewhat rap-style verses with emotionally sung choruses make for a creepy and at the same time charming song. The Bon Jovi-like "wah wah" is a nice treat, too. I also dig this song.

"Automatic"--I love the music in this one, but Pat's voice and lyrics just don't do it for me. Another song I could live without. Pat says this song is about his family and his deep love for the. Yeah, it's nice and all, but it's still corny.

"The Angel and The One"--the album's second or third best song, I haven't decided yet. Rivers states that this song came about because he wanted to break away from the traditional three minute power ballad. For that alone, I give him mad props. The song is lovely yet haunting, uncharacteristic yet totally Weezer. It has this air of spirituality, for which Rivers aims. Not as great an album closer as "Only In Dreams" (I don't think anything ever will), but it's damn near close. Well, so is "Haunt You Every Day" from Make Believe.

Bonus Tracks from the Deluxe Edition:
---all these songs are very unWeezer yet totally them, too. To me, they seem appropriate to be bonus tracks because they all could have easily been album closers.

"Miss Sweeney"--Rivers sings this one as if he has to go to the bathroom really badly but has to hold it for the time being. Once he hits the chorus, though, he doesn't give a fuck. Apparently, love makes you forget you gotta take a piss. And if that's not love, I don't know what is.

"Pig"--This perpetually could have been a better album closer. Here, Rivers gets reflective on his life and looks back on it with no regrets. Well, metaphorically, anyway. He eerily looks into his future, too, and comments on his inevitable death. Ultimately, this serious song talks about having fun. I'm starting to think that Rivers has adopted the "Don't Worry About It" philosophy.

"The Spider"--another great lyrical song with images of life, death, and everything in between. However, I do have two critiques. The song never picks up steam. It reminds me of Ben Kweller's "On My Way" but with less funny lyrics. I wanted the song to go somewhere, but it stays in the same progression for like 5 minutes. And plus, didn't Rivers already use a bug as a metaphor for loss and death in Pinkerton's "Butterfly"?

"King"--Another Pat Wilson song, but it fuckin' rocks! His voice is demanding and troubling. When he sings, "I'm king," for some reason, I get an image of Tony Montana from Scarface seeing the blimp that reads, "The World Is Yours." This song also sounds like a completely different band. I wonder what it would have been like with Rivers singing it. I wish this song had been on the album instead of "Dreamin'," "Everybody Get Dangerous," or "Automatic." Maybe "Troublemaker" too, but that song definitely has its moments. "King" also could have closed the album.

"It's Easy"--the last song. Weezer rocks on acoustics! They should really look into doing an acoustic CD or something. I have a lot of their songs in acoustic like "No One Else" and "Hit Me Baby One More Time" and "The Good Life" and they are all just amazing and powerful. This song is fun. It makes you want to bust out a guitar and just jam with your friends. It's easy.

Ultimately, I give this album 3 1/2 stars out of four. I applaud Weezer's experimentation and thinking outside the box. I remember reading the Rolling Stone article when Make Believe came out. It portrayed the band as troubled and doomed. Rivers came off as a control freak, and the band members seemed to hate him. Because of their lack of cohesion, well, the album sucks. It's definitely their worst one. In this one, Rivers and the band have grown up and spiritually evolved. The album's tone shows off a more relaxed and funloving band. This time around, they decided to be open to each other's influences and make a collaborative effort. Some songs miss. However, when a band reinvents itself as a band, and not defined by its lead singer for the first time, well, they're not going to get it right the first time. It's almost like learning how to play the guitar all over again. But I've got faith that they'll perfect this refound unity on their seventh album. So who the fuck cares what critics think? I know this record is going to be in my car stereo all summer, blasting it with the window down.

Oh, and on a sidenote, today, I embraced the digital music distribution revolution! Unknowingly (don't ask me how), I had already bought the first three songs from this album as singles. So I was not willing to shell out 10 bucks for 7 more songs. Hence, I decided to get the Deluxe Edition because I thought it would be worth more. And then when I went to Best Buy to get it, it was nearly 20 bucks! Fuck that! So I hit up iTunes, which I normally only do for new bands or singles. I realized a couple of things:

1. You can still get the digital booklet online. I mean, sure, having the actual CD booklet is sweet, but how many times do you look back to it seriously? However, Apple should figure out a way to put this digital booklet on iPods.
2. I got the track "It's Easy" because it was through iTunes.
3. If I had bought the CD, I was just going to put it on my iTunes anyway.
4. Because I had bought the first three songs, I was able to "Complete This Album," and actually saved some money!

iTunes has become the number one music distributor, beating Wal-Mart! I mean, think about that, seriously. It may be a SLOW takeover, but it's still coming.

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