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September 05, 2001 - Image 57

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-05

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New Student Edition - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 5, 2001-- 7D

Weezer back
.in rock's lime
green light
Luke Smith
Daily Music Editor
Weezer's triumphant step back into pop's limelight
was marked by a long running series of sold-out
shows, and the debut of their new album at the #4 spot
nBillboard's Album chart was the icing on the
espective comeback cake. The band's return that
began a little over a year ago with a brief stint on the
Vans Warped Tour has befuddled both fans and the
press. Weezer's five year freeze sent its fans back to
Pinkerton and their eponymous debut, and scouring
the internet for any scrap of new material they could
find. Sometime in this half-decade void, Weezer got
bigger than ever.
Pinkerton, Weezer's cryptic second album found the
band's musical tangent being pulled away from its
Umart-ass irony rich tunes of their 1994 debut, and into
singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo's personal diary.
Cuomo penned tunes about his boredom with promis-
cuous rockstar sex to his sordid tale of love gone
wrong when the girl of his dreams turned out to be a
lesbian. Critics and fans ripped Cuomo's unrelenting
personal memoirs, writing them, and Weezer off as a
post-grunge novelty act whose careers ran as long as
their 2:40 smash hit "Buddy Holly."
After breaking in Billboard's top 20, Pinkerton fell
off the charts faster than N'Sync sold 2.4 million
cords. With little to no label support, and virtually
ro radio airplay first single "El Scorcho" and follow-
up "The Good Life" failed to break musical ground.
Pinkerton was officially a failure, commercially and
critically the album was a complete flop, and was later
called by Cuomo, "a complete disaster." Bassist Matt
Sharp quit for his moog-flavored synth-pop band The
Rentals, and Weezer was amid rumors of breakups and
a Brian Wilson-like meltdown for Rivers Cuomo.
In 1998, Weezer briefly regrouped to record its fol-
low-up to Pinkerton, and after a few short weeks of lit-
Sle progress Cuomo called things off and went back
into hiding. By then Weezer had found a new bassist in
former Juliana Hatfield plunker Mikey Welsh. Whis-
pers of a break up were further stoked when mp3's
started appearing of Rivers Cuomo playing a brief
series of shows in Boston. Cuomo again dropped off
the face of the earth retreating to an apartment in Cali-
fornia where he painted all the walls black and discon-
nected his phone, completely ostracizing himself from
the rest of the world.
Somehow through their Copperfieldian disappearing
ct rock's biggest dorks became cult heroes. With the
opularity of mp3 trading booming at the close of the
millennium, Weezer material began to proliferate
throughout Napster and the copycat file-sharing
servers. "New" Weezer material began to emerge in
the form of the mp3's from the Rivers Cuomo solo

Same name, new look
with 'hip hip' sound

Weezer, Weezer; Interscope
By Luke Smith
Daily Music Editor
Ultra-clever hipsters Weezer under-
went a Frankenstein-like transformation
between their first two albums, dropping
the irony-laced witticisms on their
eponymous debut, replacing them with
Pinkerton's tongue-in-cheek soul bearing
couplets embraced by searing guitars.
Their five-year deep freeze has brought
about another change in the band's musi-
cal dynamic this time, forsaking the rock
that made Pinkerton a staple to the emo
movement. It is their new record howev-
er, that is indeed a monster.
Titled Weezer (again) and packaged
completely in lime green, the album
cover and eponymous title are obvious
throwbacks to Weezer's 1994 days of
yesteryear. They even nabbed the same
producer in the Cars' Ric Ocasek for
"the Green album." This time around, the
song isn't the same, or moreover, the
songs are all the same. Cuomo's formu-
laic tuneage dominates the ten tracks on
Weezer that, despite a rare exception,
could've been written off a chord chart
in a "Guitar for Beginners" book.
"Gonna break it down with a brand
new sound," sings Cuomo in "Glorious
Day," the ninth track on their sub-thirty
minute opus Weezer. Weezer has in fact
returned with a new sound featuring ele-
mentary pop-chord changes and imper-
sonal lyrics.
Through singer/songwriter Rivers
Cuomo's autonomous dictatorship,
Weezer was nearly crushed by its uber-
personal mis-hit Pinkerton and Cuomo
adopted the role of Boba Fett, freezing
the band completely. Weezer vanished,
completely. Now the once hip, once iron-
ic popsmart geek anti-heroes have
returned, slinging chunky power chords
against pop's slick mainstream.
Long gone are the distempered freak-
outs that endeared Weezer to the emo-

core movement. Emotion has vanished
from Weezer's new album faster than
Pinkerton dropped off the Billboard
album chart. In its place are "Oca-slick,"
climate-controlled melodies and chunky
guitars that made Weezer's debut tick.
Missing, however, is the music.
Stagnant and stalemated by simplicity,
Cuomo has distanced himself from the
album's lyrics. Weezer's debut album
was emotionally detached compared ;to
Pinkerton, but what carried the "blue"
album was irony. Weezer was slackjaw
poprock, Pavement for the pop-savvy.
Now, Weezer is pure unadulterated pop,
right down to emotional alienation.
First single, "Hash Pipe" has smoked
its way up Billboard and is propelled by
guitars equal parts Rick Neilsen and Spy
Hunter. Cuomo's brave use of falsetto
pays dividends as this bright spot on "the
green album" is like nothing Weezr has
recorded before.
And being different is the problem on
Weezer, as there isn't much difflrpce
between the songs. Similarly structifred
and featuring simplistic vocal-line solos,
they seem to be a nonchalant "screw
you" to Cuomo's metal roots, or'his
attempt to bang his infectious melodies
into listener's heads.
Despite its overwhelming blandness at
times, Weezer is catchy as hell, chalked
full of hooks and fortified with major-
chord riffing, but it lacks the clever
lyrics, irony and musicianship of their
back catalog. Weezer's schizophrenic
third album showcases a band reeling
from Pinkerton's failure and simultane-
ously reaching for some sort of identity.
Weezer seems to have forgotten ~whoiey
wanted to be, and in that amnesW.4re
stretching to be what people want Weez-
er to be, or what Geffen thinks will sell
the most. It is after all "the Green
Maybe Weezer's ironic side isn't gone.
Just hidden.

"I know I don't look like Buddy Holly, so stop asking." Rivers Cuomo, ladies and gentlemen.

shows, the "Kitchen Tape Demos" leaked, (a series of
demo songs from before Weezer's self-titled debut),
and live bootlegs from as far from Germany, to most of
the dates on Weezer's Summer 2000 club tour leaked
straight to Napster. Suddenly Weezer's steam had start-
ed to roll.
Equally important as the explosion in digital music
trading to the comeback of Weezer was the creation of
Karl's Corner. Karl Koch, the band's longtime friend
and roadie, launched a website as an offshoot of the
Rebel Weezer Alliance (formerly weqernet). Karl
would provide near-daily updates about the band
beginning at the start of 2000 when Murmurs of a
Weezer regrouping began. As the band gathered and
rehearsed, Karl filmed clips of Weezer playing new
songs, just blurbs generally under a minute long, and
the excitement began to build. Rabid Weezer fans
began to check Karl's Corner daily, hoping for some
kind of update in a few words, or a picture series or
best case scenario a new video clip. This subtle mar-
keting move began to generate an underground hype
fir- Weezer, a mainstream rock band.
Coupled with Karl's Corner and the booming popu-
larity of mp3 trading was the enshrinement of Weezer's
flop Pinkerton, to the emocore moverient. Typified by
explosive screaming choruses and loud soft verse/cho-
rus dynamics Pinkerton became somewhat of the IHoly
Grail of emo. Bands like the Get Up Kids would give
nods to Weezer and Pinkerton in interviews and the
emo culture of heroin chic hipsters caught on. With the
uprising of emo, Pinkerton began to move units, prov-
ing a steady seller in indie circles.

The mp3's of Weezer's 2000 Summer Tour became
hot commodities online with almost 20 new songs
being played throughout the tour, some songs were
played several times while others like "On the Edge"
would appear once. After the tour. Weezer went into the
studio to record their long awaited follow-up to Pinker-
ton. Fans expected the songs they had heard on the
summer tour to be the cuts for the forthcoming disc, but
in a series of messages to the fans Koch informed the
Internet that Cuomo had been churning songs out at an
alarming rate of one per day. Before'the band went into
the studio Koch listed all the songs that were in consid-
eration for the new album, a list that numbered close to
100. The band began to march through the songs with
producer Ric Ocasek (who produced Weezer's debut)
and pared the list down. To the surprise of fans, one
song from the summer tour would be recorded for the
new album, that song was "I lash Pipe."
With Koch's daily updates coming from the record-
ing studio fans would only get pictures of a hard at
work Weezer creating their third album, Koch would
tease and give the titles of the songs, and eventually a
"final" tracklisting, which would change again at the
last minute.
This Internet debauchery built a tremendous amount
of hype for Weezer, and with Koch on the inside with
the band providing more information than any number
of press releases fans felt like they were looking in at
Weezer's day to day lives. It is the connection that fans
felt that led to their embrace of Weezer and somehow
turned this major label uber-slick poprock band into a
cult phenomenon.

Grade: B-

After long hiatus, Weezer starts summer tour

By Luke Smith
aily Music Editor
Behind the catchy ruefulness of
"Buddy Holly," and the irony-rich wit
of "Undone (The Sweater Song)," it
appeared Weezer was going to become
a mainstay in pop music. Rivers
Cuomo's infectious ear for melody and
catchy love songs Weezer would surely
be a staple of the post-grunge rock
movement. They would tour and head
back into the studio putting out a new
lbum every year and a half. That is the
way pop music works, right?
Following the commercial bust of
Pinkerton, a concept album mirroring
Giaccomo Puccini's Madame Butterfly,
in which Cuomo transformed the
morally bankrupt Captain Pinkerton
into a jaded rockstar who sleeps with
different women from town to town;
Weezer completely vanished from the
imelight. One magazine falsely report-
ed that Cuomo had gone insane,
burned all the Pinkerton master tapes
and could be found holed up in a studio
bouncing a rubber ball off the walls.
Instead, Weezer did indeed part ways
after their supporting tour for Pinker-
ton. Drummer Pat Wilson took his side
project the Special Goodness, on the
road, Brian Bell set out to make a name
for the Space Twins, and Matt Sharp

ultimately left the band in favor of his
side project the Rentals who had a
minor radio hit with "Friends of P" on
their debut album Return of the
Cuomo and Co. found a new bassist
in former Juliana Hatfield bassist
Mikey Welsh, and set out to record a
new record in 1998. A few weeks into
the sessions Pat Wilson walked out due
to the lack of the rehearsals.
Spring of 2000 saw Cuomo's recall
to the estranged member of the pop-
quartet saying he had material he was
ready to present to the band, and start
Weezer back up as a full-time endeavor
again. The band regrouped, rehearsed
and set out on a few small club dates.
In the summer of 2000 Weezer
played a few early club dates in Cali-
fornia, then were asked to join the
Warped Tour for a leg, and when the
success of both outings grew Weezer
launched into a nationwide club tour.
The summer nationwide canvassing
met Weezer head on and they proceed-
ed to sell out everywhere they played,
tickets for Chicago and New York last-
ed just minutes on internet pre-sales.
Fresh off of their summer tour Weez-
er headed into the studio to record their
follow-up to Pinkerton. They tabbed
Ric Ocasek (producer of Weezer's
eponymous debut) for production

duties. Entering the studio in the wake
of Christmas Weezer wrapped master-
ing the day before their Yahoo spon-
sored spring tour kicked off last month.
When the new album was played at
Interscope offices it was met with a
completely different response than
Weezer had expected. Just a few days
into recording the new record, Inter-
scope executives stopped by the studio
to hear the new material, and proceed-
ed to voice their discontent with the
new material. However, when they
played the completed version of the
record they recanted their previous
statements, "loving" the new material.
Interscope promptly and quizzically
pulled the original release date of April
17th 2001, leaving the release date in a
musical purgatory where the band has
hung for the last four years.
Corporate giant Yahoo offered to
sponsor a spring tour before Weezer
had even entered the studio to record
their third record. This unity between
Weezer and corporate American icon
Yahoo upset many of their fans - fans
that take pride in the obscurity that
Weezer's absence has garnered.
Weezer's time away resulted in
steady sales for Pinkerton, and recently
the album was certified platinum, prov-
ing absence makes the heart grow

Weezer storms into Detroit for the
second time in nine months this time at
the State Theatre on Thursday accom-
panied by special guests and unsigned
California quintet Ozma, and torch tot-
ing indie-rockers The Get Up Kids.
Both bands were chosen via an online
fan poll thru Weezer's official website.

Courtesy of interscope Records


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