Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 5/14): Maladroit

weezer

Released: May 14, 2002
Recorded: December 2001 – January 2002
Studio: Cello Studios, Los Angeles, California
Length: 33:43
Label: Geffen
Producer: Weezer

Coming just one year after The Green Album, Maladroit came as a shock after having such a long dry spell after the release of Pinkerton. But here we are once again with a Weezer album full of firsts: first album with more than ten songs, first album with the band experimenting with some new styles, and first album with bassist Scott Shriner. A fine album with some great moments, Maladroit stands out as the weirdest release of the Weezer catalog. The songs that are great are still great. The production feels a bit outdated at this point, and I’d love if someone gave this album a remix.

AMERICAN GIGOLO

Songwriting: Now this is a songwriting experiment. I can’t fully wrap my head around what’s going on here. At least there’s a crunch to it.
Arrangement: The return of the Weezer guitar solo!
Production: That snare drum sound just doesn’t work for me and that’s a bummer because Pat is a monster on drums with this song.
Performance: I hear so much more of the band on this recording than I did at any point on The Green Album. I welcome this.
SCORE: 5

DOPE NOSE

Songwriting: A gem from the batch of songs we got right before The Green Album (now known as the Summer 2000 Songs). We have some clear and concise pop rock songwriting here.
Arrangement: It works! There is not much going on here but the rock! Give me some more guitar solo please, it feels like it has been too long!
Production: It has the radio friendly sheen of the rest of the album, but for some reason it works here.
Performance: Amazing things happen when a band comes together and you can hear all of the individual voices and contributions of the band members.
SCORE: 8

KEEP FISHIN’

Songwriting: More of Rivers finding his new groove as a songwriter, and a bit of experimentation thrown out here and there. The killer time shift in the middle makes it!
Arrangement: (PS we are talking about radio version aka the remake here). Great intro, great guitars, great overall vibe. The hit single that should’ve been!
Production: The radio version destroys the original album recording, giving the song a chance to finally realize its full potential.
Performance: Weezer brings the rock.
SCORE: 8

TAKE CONTROL

Songwriting: An interesting jam that would have sounded perfectly in TOP GUN back in the 80’s. I am excited that Rivers is incorporating some riff based writing into his style.
Arrangement: It works!
Production: A little too glossy for my tastes. I think this song would have been better with a little roughness around the edges. The BBC demo version is far superior in terms of vibe and recording.
Performance: Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock. I will take this after the muted Green Album.
SCORE: 7

DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

Songwriting: OK! What an interesting moment from Rivers. Just one year before this he had perfected the pop rock structure in its most basic form. This stretches it way beyond. I did not expect this a year after the Green Album.
Arrangement: Oh, just overall such good stuff. The song flows, and when a song flows you get something great.
Production: A little clean, but I can overlook this because the song is so great.
Performance: The little things, the tiny contributions from the band, matter most. You get a great performance on this one. And that solo!
SCORE: 8

SLOB

Songwriting: Another leftover from the Summer 2000 Songsthe writing is very indicative of what Rivers was doing at that time mixed with some Pinkerton-esque emotion. The results are mixed.
Arrangement: The introduction is a great part of the song and overall you have a piece of music that fits well together.
Production: It may be because I am so used to the Summer 2000 Songs version, but this one just sounds too clean for a song called “Slob”.
Performance: The band never failed to do this one well.
SCORE: 6

BURNDT JAMB

Songwriting: Another WOW moment…what’s this? I feel Phish groove vibes on this mixed with some balls to the wall rock. I can dig this!
Arrangement: Mixing some laid back verses with some instrumental rock chorus. I love this experimentation.
Production: It sounds like how I think most of Maladroit should sound.
Performance: I’ll say it time and time again…the band as a four headed monster is Weezer at its best with performances. Keep this up guys.
SCORE: 8

SPACE ROCK

Songwriting: Another weird burst from Rivers. Short and sweet and to the point. It brings you the rock in under two minutes. The song isn’t amazingly special, but I still enjoy it on every listen a little bit more.
Arrangement: Crank it to ten and push it out and never look back. That is what the band sounds like they are doing here. Sometimes you just have to do it and move ahead.
Production: Just like the previous song…It sounds like how I think most of Maladroit should sound.
Performance: ROCK!
SCORE: 8

SLAVE

Songwriting: An interesting moment on the album. This song could have been a standout on The Green Album but here it just feels a bit tired and boring. Is this Rivers reaching out for a potential radio hit during the Maladroit era? Sounds like it to me.
Arrangement: From the introduction, everything about this song just sounds a bit forced. I’m not into this.
Production: Basic and I can get behind that.
Performance: The first moment on this album where I feel like the band is going through the motions for a song. I don’t hear the band being too passionate about this one.
SCORE: 5

FALL TOGETHER

Songwriting: More riff based Rivers writing, and there’s a part of me that wonders if the stuff Weezer was working on in 1998 would have sounded like this. I dig it.
Arrangement: Great focus around the riff. This is great because the riff is killer
Production: Full on rock. Pat’s drums sound huge. This is the way he’s meant to sound.
Performance: The band is together on this one. You can tell they love that riff.
SCORE: 7

POSSIBILITIES

Songwriting: The “Knock-Down Drag-Out” of the album. Basic and boring rock song writing. I’ll pass.
Arrangement: There’s nothing here. It’s like the song just wants to keep hitting you over the head until it ends. Stop it.
Production: A typical Maladroit sound. It fits the song.
Performance: I don’t really have a good read on this. It’s like they bashed it out and moved on.
SCORE: 3

LOVE EXPLOSION

Songwriting: A wonderful pop rock song that suffers from one thing…too much thought from the writer. The original version of this song, known as “Do You Want Me To Stay” is far superior. Listen to that here.
Arrangement: Verse Pre-Chorus Chorus Verse Verse Pre-Chorus Chorus Solo Pre-Chorus. I can get behind something like that in this situation.
Production: A little too much gloss. Rivers’ vocals sound fake.
Performance: The band sounded more energized back when it was “Do You Want Me To Stay”.
SCORE: 6

DECEMBER

Songwriting: Another interesting addition. Rivers pulls from 50’s era influences here and it makes a great song….but something’s off.
Arrangement: The introduction into the first verse doesn’t need to be there and that throws off the rest of the song. Also, it’s just performed way too fast.
Production: Go back to the demo the band recorded in DC to hear the best version of this song. It needs to be laid back just like this. The Maladroit version is way too frantic.
Performance: Is Rivers telling the band to perform this one super fast and the guys are like “wait, remember when this was laid back?” Sounds like it to me.
SCORE: 5

THE FINAL WORD

 

As a Weezer fan who went through “the lean years” between Pinkerton and The Green Album, I appreciate the band at this moment in their career for pumping out new music at a speedy rate. At the same time, Rivers could have used an editor at this point in their career (a common occurrence you will see when we get to future albums as well). With the magic of iTunes and Spotify, you too can make your own version of Maladroit, and in my experiments the album works really well when it is a ten song album with some alternate takes tossed in there instead of what we got in the finished product. Nonetheless, the album still has some great moments that are highly listenable to this day.

TOTAL POINTS: 84
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.46

6.46

Advertisements
Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 4/14): The Green Album

6c7454cd6e21bb1afb97a818253f4ef2.1000x1000x1.png

Released: May 15, 2001
Recorded: December 2000–January 2001
Studio: Cello Studios, Los Angeles, California
Length: 28:20
Producer: Ric Ocasek

OK, so Weezer’s back after a 5 year hiatus….what’s this? I hear the crunchy guitars, quirky lyrics, and the sound is unmistakable for Weezer but….this is different. Let’s keep on listening.

DON’T LET GO

Songwriting: Welcome to Rivers Cuomo Songwriter Part II. Very simple and focused. Almost calculated. Scientific. We get the sense that Rivers is on a quest to write the perfect pop song.
Arrangement: You can’t much simpler than this. Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Barely a solo. Weezer will repeat this for almost every song on the album.
Production: Ric Ocasek brings the crunch back to Weezer and reigns in the wild Pinkerton vibes.
Performance: It sounds like a well oiled machine.
SCORE: 7

PHOTOGRAPH

Songwriting: More of the quest to perfect the pop song. This is a good short burst.
Arrangement: Simple once again. I have a feeling we’ll be repeating this again and again.
Production: Sounds like Weezer in a room ripping through a pop song. Well done.
Performance: More of the same as Don’t Let Go
SCORE: 8

HASH PIPE

Songwriting: What the hell is this James Bond-esque riff and lyrics about a hash pipe? I don’t get it, but it rocks. And I will take that.
Arrangement: Simple, but the nice buildup section after the second chorus changes things up. Experimenting with the perfect pop song!
Production: Wow, does that riff pack some wallop. Keep it up.
Performance: Weezer at some of their rock music best.
SCORE: 8

ISLAND IN THE SUN

Songwriting: Simple and perfect, the lyrics combine with the music to evoke a very good mood for the listener. A very successful songwriting experiment for Rivers Cuomo.
Arrangement: More simplistic arrangements but for this one it is perfect. Every instrument falls into place.
Production: Ric Ocasek adds the perfect touch. The shakers and acoustic guitar make the song.
Performance: This song could not be performed any better.
SCORE: 10

CRAB

Songwriting: The Rivers Cuomo songwriting experiment tries to write a balls to the wall rocker. It’s interesting!
Arrangement: Straight forward and focused. The song does not let up on the rock.
Production: Some wah guitar spices up the whole “let’s repeat the vocal melody for the guitar solo” schtick that is so prevalent on this album. I’m good with it.
Performance: Strong rock. Nothing much going on here but it is good.
SCORE: 6

KNOCK-DOWN DRAG-OUT

Songwriting: A very straight forward and rather bland rock song. The lyrics, the melody, and the chords really don’t do much here. Is this the first dud of Weezer’s career? I think so!
Arrangement: Nothing special happening here at all, move along.
Production: For such a bland song, you’d hope the production might take it to a new level. It does not.
Performance: A rock band going through the motions.
SCORE: 4

SMILE

Songwriting: A beautiful pop rock song with a strong melody.
Arrangement: Very basic. The only thing that stands out to me is the introduction and not in a good way. It doesn’t open the song in a strong way.
Production: Once again, a confusing production move. This song has an excellent melody and the songwriting is great, but the Green Album style of production just does not fit the song well. This song should’ve been given a lighter treatment.
Performance: Despite the choices on the production, the band still performs the song well.
SCORE: 6

SIMPLE PAGES

Songwriting: A typical Green album era song. The verses are really stand out.
Arrangement: Let’s follow the Green Album Arrangement Schematic again, guys!
Production: Some nice touches on the lead guitar that help propel the track. The outro is a key moment of emotion on the album, which we don’t see much of other than on this song.
Performance: The band feels energized.
SCORE: 7

GLORIOUS DAY

Songwriting: Interesting stuff here. It doesn’t exactly fit the Green Album mold, but that is a welcome change. On any other album I don’t think this one would make the final cut.
Arrangement: A great intro, but everything else is really more of the same
Production: Nice touches on the introduction with production.
Performance: I don’t hear a lot going on here with the band. More going through the motions.
SCORE: 5

O GIRLFRIEND

Songwriting: A great Rivers Weezer ballad. The song hits a lot of emotional high points for this band at this time in their career.
Arrangement: Good stuff. Great introduction and an amazing bridge.
Production: The song has always sound a bit echo-y to me, giving it a unique sound for this album. It is a welcome closer.
Performance: A band working together to bring a strong closer to an album that is a bit divisive to the listener.
SCORE: 8

THE FINAL WORD

There are days where I really enjoy the quick burst of energy that is The Green Album and there are other days where I write it off. Back in 2001, this album drew strong emotions from me. At that point, I was a hardcore Weezer fan and I did not expect this. Going from the emotional rawness of Pinkerton to the scientific songwriting/controlled environment atmosphere of The Green Album was jarring. Over time though, what I’ve noticed is that a good song is a good song no matter how you record it or what album it ends up. This is the lesson I’ve learned from The Green Album. While not the best work the band has done, there are some great songs and performances.

 

TOTAL POINTS: 69
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.90

Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 3/14): Pinkerton

Weezer-Pinkerton-1474492939.png

Released: September 24, 1996
Recorded: September 1995, January–June 1996 at Sound City, Los Angeles; Fort Apache Studios, Boston; Hollywood Sound Recorders, Los Angeles; Rumbo Recorders, Canoga Park; Electric Lady Studios, New York City.
Length: 34:36
Produced by Weezer

TIRED OF SEX

Let the fun begin. Wildy loose guitars, some of the most personal lyrics I’ve ever heard, and a band that is playing together like a motherfucker, Tired of Sex is our introduction to the album. One of the all time “get ready for this” album openers.

Songwriting: A pretty basic song, what shines here are the lyrics. They’re so bizarre and personal. They really set the tone for the album
Arrangement: Ripping guitars lead the charge here, but let’s not overlook Patrick Wilson’s drumming. He’s bashing those drums and driving this song ahead.
Production: Get ready for an album full of this….dirty, loud, and jarring. It hits you hard but here’s the thing…you love it after a few listens.
Performance: One of the best rock bands of the 90’s firing on all cylinders.
SCORE: 10

GETCHOO

Continuing in the vein of Tired of Sex, our second song is a simple rocker with lyrics that continue to communicate “the hurt” that the songwriter is going through.

  • Songwriting: Nothing special here, but it still works and it still works well. The bridge is a great part to break up the song.
  • Arrangement: Once again, pretty simple. Four guys rocking out.
  • Production: In my opinion, this song has the dirtiest guitars on the album. They’re a bit more jarring and take away a little bit from the song.
  • Performance: Like Tired of Sex, once again we have an amazing rock band.
  • SCORE: 9

NO OTHER ONE

Welcome back to Earth, sort of. This song begins a two song cycle that gives the listener songs that, if done slightly differently, could find a home on The Blue Album.

  • Songwriting: A beautiful chord change really excels the bridge, and the lyrics paint quite a telling picture of the person Rivers is singing about.
  • Arrangement: From the feedback of the intro to the neat guitar riffs of the second verse, this is some standout Pinkerton arragement.
  • Production: There are loud guitars and there are moments where everything breathes. A great balance.
  • Performance: I feel different members really giving their all into making this song what it is. A great collaboration on performance.
  • SCORE: 10

WHY BOTHER?

The rocker to end all rockers on the album. A short burst of personal, quirky rock. This one comes at a perfect time as the fourth track on the album. It nicely ties up the first bit of the album and prepares the listener for the second half.

  • Songwriting: Some of the chord changes in this song are slightly unexpected and that’s a good thing. Rivers could have gone basic and simple here with this one, but instead is throwing curve balls in a standard rock song.
  • Arrangement: Nothing special here but some fine little additions like the three part stomp before the final chorus “this happened to me twice before” add nice little bits of flavor in here and there.
  • Production: Raw Pinkerton power. That is all.
  • Performance: A rock band executing a rock song very well.
  • SCORE: 10

ACROSS THE SEA

The gem. The middle of the album. The moment where you, the listener, realize that Weezer isn’t just all fun in the sun quirky pop rock songs. This is where Rivers takes it to another level.

  • Songwriting: Absolute perfection. A pop song with elements of classic music and wearing a rock band outfit. The song has movements that carry the listener with them, and wow is it a great ride. If the entire “Goddamn, this business is really lame
    I gotta live on an island to find the juice, So you send me your love from all around the world, As if I could live on words and dreams and a million screams, Oh, how I need a hand in mine to feel” doesn’t make you feel something then you are dead inside.
  • Arrangement: You can’t get much better than this. The quiet introduction, the strummy and distorted guitars, Pat’s flawless drumming, and a breakdown bridge for the ages.
  • Production: Great backing vocals from the band, great ideas on how to structure the song.
  • Performance: There’s something special going on with this song and the band can feel that, thus they turn in one of their best performances ever.
  • SCORE: 10

THE GOOD LIFE

The “it should’ve been a huge single” song from the album, The Good Life is triumphant in both its music and lyrics. A bright spot of hope given by the songwriter in an album that is otherwise full of slight downers, this one should have been the big song of 1996-1997.

  • Songwriting: We get more of the Across The Sea pop/rock/classical songwriting and that’s a good thing. This song has movements as well and they’re all great.
  • Arrangement: Floaty guitars in the solo and bridge, xylophone, and slide guitar bring this song to new levels. Nice little touches to expand the scope of the band.
  • Production: See arrangement…all of the nice little touches serve the song very well.
  • Performance: More excitement from the band. When the band gets into a song, YOU get into a song. This is what makes Pinkerton so very amazing.
  • SCORE: 10

EL SCORCHO

The first single, the one that was destined to fail when everyone heard the first line “goddamn you half-Japanese girls”. But you know what? It failed, but we still got the song and the song is amazing.

  • Songwriting: Rivers goes back to something simple and effective and it works. The lyrics stand out as a great in depth almost steam of consciousness journal entry.
  • Arrangement: Great guitar riffs, off kilter bends and lead guitar lines, and bassist Matt Sharp at his most raw and fun with backing vocals..
  • Production: A weird song requires weird production and here we get exactly that. The band sounds like they are in a room together recording these vocals (and yes they are).
  • Performance: The backing vocals say it all. More fun from the band translates into a great performance. Give me more of this. The bridge is some of the neatest work the band has done.
  • SCORE: 10

PINK TRIANGLE

“I’m dumb she’s a lesbian” is a great line for a chorus. The imagined romance lyrics of the verse going into the Rivers giving himself forty lashes in the chorus lyrics are a great juxtaposition. Another really wonderful tune on an amazing album.

  • Songwriting: Rivers taking some leaps in the chorus and bridge and definitely makes a statement with the lyrics
  • Arrangement: The return of the xylophone and the slide guitar. We welcome it back with open arms.
  • Production: A wonderful balance between the raw Pinkerton sound we have come to hear on the album and the pop rock classical style Rivers introduced us to earlier in the album.
  • Performance: I’ve said it seven times before and I will say it again…a great performance. Not the best on the album, but any band would kill for a performance like this at least once in their career.
  • SCORE: 9

FALLING FOR YOU

Another absolute gem on the album. You know that pop rock classical style Rivers gave us an introduction to in Across The Sea? Here it is again and it is even better.

  • Songwriting: Rivers writing one of his most technical songs. The chords, lyrics, and melodies all weave together perfectly here. The songwriter takes a huge change and succeeds wildly.
  • Arrangement: Perfect. The transition from the second chorus into the solo and then into the bridge is nothing sort of genius. Loop that and let me hear it again and again.
  • Production: One more of the raw Pinkerton sound before we get the quiet album closer. And it couldn’t sound any better. Give me more of that feedback please.
  • Performance: Patrick Wilson on drums ladies and gentleman. Rivers may have wrote this entire album himself, but Patrick Wilson takes it to another level with his performances.
  • SCORE: 10

BUTTERFLY

Goodbye, and thanks for listening. Rivers Cuomo on vocals and guitar with a touch of drumming from the great Karl Koch. You expected more loud, raw Pinkerton guitars and drums? Well you’re not going to get that. Instead, this one leaves you with a kind vibe in your head. Now put the album on repeat and enjoy it again….and again.

  • Songwriting: A simple song with a simple verse that flows directly into a simple chorus. The song almost feels like a prayer.
  • Arrangement: Simple and easy. The song calls for this and Rivers gives it to them.
  • Production: There’s not much here, but the addition of the slight drums in the second verse really
  • Performance: Pinkerton is raw, and nowhere is this more evident than when Rivers’ voice cracks on this song. Warts and all.
  • SCORE: 9

THE FINAL WORD

A defining album for an entire generation. Pinkerton may not make you feel great on the inside and heck, you may not even be able to listen to it more than once but I urge you to give it a shot. For me, music doesn’t get much better than this. When you combine great songwriting with great performances and wonderful arrangements in a pop rock setting, you have me hooked. There’s a reason why Weezer fans cannot get into the band’s post Pinkerton material…it’s because Pinkerton is such a masterpiece, and it’s really hard to follow up on perfection.

Once you’re done listening to it, track down all the b-sides and outtakes you can find. You will not be disappointed.

TOTAL POINTS: 97
AVERAGE SCORE: 9.70

Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 2/14): The Blue Album

60e144cc24816355423dc159e1b24803.1000x1000x1

Released: May 10, 1994
Recorded: August–September 1993
Studio: Electric Lady Studios, New York City, New York
Length: 41:26
Producer: Ric Ocasek

MY NAME IS JONAS

One of the all time great opening tracks of any album, let alone debut albums. An instant classic.

  • Songwriting: Weird thought provoking lyrics, great 6/8 time, very distinct section.
  • Arrangement: Great from the acoustic introduction, beautiful harmonica during solo.
  • Production: Well organized song with not too many parts taking away from the song.
  • Performance: The band is humming on all cylinders here. A great performance.
  • SCORE: 10

NO ONE ELSE

A near perfect power pop song with an extremely catchy chorus, a sign of what was to come with Weezer.

  • Songwriting: A rather meticulously crafted pop song. Very compartmentalized.
  • Arrangement: The chorus post guitar solo is a key emotional moment. Driving guitars sum up the “Weezer sound”.
  • Production: Pretty basic stuff that allows the song to focus and thrive
  • Performance: Rivers sings the hell out of this one.
  • SCORE: 8

THE WORLD HAS TURNED AND LEFT ME HERE

The first dive into the longing, hard rock, emotional sound of Weezer. This tune kind of hints at the emotional rawness that was to come with their second album, Pinkerton.

  • Songwriting: Like No One Else, meticulously crafted pop songThe repeating chorus has an almost mantra like effect on the listener.
  • Arrangement: Pretty basic stuff here. The solo takes the song to a new level and concludes with a great group vocal outro.
  • Production: Pretty basic stuff that allows the song to focus and thrive
  • Performance: The version of Weezer that tracked this song (a three piece) plays really well as a unit.
  • SCORE: 8

BUDDY HOLLY

The song (with the video) that really brought the attention of the masses to Weezer, Buddy Holly is a near perfect pop song for the year of 1994.

  • Songwriting: If Rivers was attempting to understand and catalog his songwriting at the time this tune was written, Buddy Holly should be up there as a perfect example of pop songwriting during 1993-1994.
  • Arrangement: A pop song at the core with a bridge that jumps out of nowhere and is a very welcome addition to the song. Followed by a great singalong solo and taken out by the killer chorus.
  • Production: Weezer expands their palate here and adds some synthesizer, a very well placed addition to take the song to levels of pop perfection.
  • Performance: The first Weezer song in the catalog where Rivers feels like he’s in charge of all aspects of the performance. Listen to the demo to understand this statement.
  • SCORE: 10

UNDONE: THE SWEATER SONG

This song is perhaps one of the most perfectly placed songs on any album. Right after the blistering intro followed by three near perfect pop songs, Undone brings a bit of rock and weirdness to this album at the perfect time.

  • Songwriting: As one of the first Weezer songs, this tune gives a glimpse into how the band started and how they really had the core of their sound from the beginning.
  • Arrangement: The lingering intro and simple three chord verse/chorus is deceptive, making the listener think that’s all there is. But by the time of the key change in the solo and into the outro, you’re taken to new levels with the tune.
  • Production: Acoustic guitar, pounding drums, and noise. A cacophony of delight.
  • Performance: The band (a three piece for the recording) as a one headed performance monster.
  • SCORE: 10

SURF WAX AMERICA

A simple balls to the wall rocker, Surf Wax America seems like it was designer to get the crowd pogoing up and down while singing along to the infectious chorus.

  • Songwriting: A collaboration between Rivers Cuomo and drummer Patrick Wilson, this song brings together the best bits of what I like about each of these guys.
  • Arrangement: Perfect. The chorus blasts into the song every time. The bridge and vocal harmony break down take the song beyond a pop song and it creates something unique. This is the sound of Weezer.
  • Production: Simple and straightforward, perhaps neatest moment is when Rivers lets loose on the final “let’s go” before heading into the outro. A wise choice.
  • Performance: Straightforward and effective.
  • SCORE: 8

SAY IT AIN’T SO

The divisive third single from the popular debut album, Say It Ain’t So showed that Weezer doesn’t have to have grinding guitars humming along at all times. This song showed just how well the band can use the quiet verse/loud chorus trick to propel a song to a new level.

  • Songwriting: Rivers begins to explore the emotional side of songwriting. The honesty and brilliance of the lyrics makes this one never get old.
  • Arrangement: Perfect quiet/loud dynamics, a killer bridge, and a solo for the ages.
  • Production: Ric Ocasek lets this one breathe when it needs to breathe and lets it crush when it needs to crush.
  • Performance: Matt Sharp’s bassline is often overlooked, but it gives the band a new dimension. Well done.
  • SCORE: 10

IN THE GARAGE

A song which brings back the crunchiness of No One Else and Surf Wax America while at the same time looking ahead to new dynamics and sounds, and also looking back at everything that has shaped Rivers as a musician.

  • Songwriting: Rivers is once again here on this song perfecting his approach to pop rock songwriting in 1993-1994.
  • Arrangement: Not much new here, but everything works well and is effective. The fuzz bass on the second verse is great.
  • Production: Keeping with the acoustic intro, crunchy guitar, mind blistering solo format. You don’t need to fix something that isn’t broken.
  • Performance: Rivers is singing and playing this one like it really means something to him. You can tell. His double tracked vocals on the last chorus are killer.
  • SCORE: 10

HOLIDAY

Our first and only vacation on The Blue Album, this tune is a slight detour in terms of scope and style of the album but like any vacation it is a very welcome one.

  • Songwriting: It’s almost as if you can hear Rivers focusing on his pursuit of the perfect pop song in this one.
  • Arrangement: Like Surf Wax America, this song greatly benefits from a vocal harmony breakdown. It comes in at the perfect moment and leaves just when it needs to leave.
  • Production: The addition of what I like to call “the organ sounding lead guitar” expand the band’s sound.
  • Performance: This is the best vocal harmony breakdown the band has done to date.
  • SCORE: 9

ONLY IN DREAMS

The perfect closer, an epic eight-minute performance that brings together the Weezer sound and draws it out in an epic manner that we’d see more of in the future.

  • Songwriting: Another early Weezer song, you can kind of hear Rivers trying new things with his songwriting on this. He hasn’t quite got what he wants to do yet, but this is a great experiment nonetheless.
  • Arrangement: Pretty basic until the buildup. The buildup and outro sound like what every garage band in the world hopes to perform at some point.
  • Production: The drums on this song sound so huge and hint at one of Pinkerton‘s best features, Patrick Wilson on drums.
  • Performance: Weezer’s version of jamming. It needs some work, but I can get behind it.
  • SCORE: 8

THE FINAL WORD

One of the best debut albums of all time. The whole album works so well as a set yet it is so easy to pull out just one song and identify it as a favorite. Most bands hope to write at least one song that’s as good as any song on this album. Weezer managed to do that with ten songs on their first album.

TOTAL POINTS: 91
AVERAGE SCORE: 9.10

 

Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 1/14): Introduction

Screenshot.png

(for my past writings that have focused on Weezer, click here)

Being a fan of Weezer/Rivers Cuomo requires the person listening to this music to be comfortable with having extreme highs and extreme lows. Since Weezer came onto the scene in 1994, they’ve steadily put out some of what I consider to be the best pop/rock music I’ve ever heard, and at times they’ve also put out some music which I consider to be cringe-inducing and to quote their most popular video, “not so good, Al

Rivers Cuomo, the main creative force and songwriter behind Weezer, is known for his particularly obsessive pursuit of the perfect song (read more here and here) and over time has gone to great lengths to document, understand, and catalog his songwriting the the process. Being a librarian, I have to say that this excites me quite a bit. I love the scientific approach he takes to his music, as it shows how it grows and develops and changes over time.  When I think about the music of Weezer/Rivers Cuomo, I too try to understand my love for these songs in a way that Rivers may appreciate and with this series I will share that with you.

Starting today, I will begin a series called The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings where I take a deep dive into the 12 studio albums Weezer has released plus one selection focusing on the B-Sides, Demos, and Outtakes that will act as a catch all for everything that did not end up on the albums. Below is a list of the posts which I will be writing over the next month or so:

  1. Weezer (The Blue Album)
  2. Pinkerton
  3. Weezer (The Green Album)
  4. Maladroit
  5. Make Believe
  6. Weezer (The Red Album)
  7. Raditude
  8. Hurley
  9. Death To False Metal
  10. Everything Will Be Alright In The End
  11. Weezer (The White Album)
  12. Pacific Daydream
  13. B-Sides, Demo, Outtakes

My methodology for ranking these albums is simple: each song from each album will get a score between 0-10. When tallied together, the album will have an overall total score. This number will then be divided by the number of songs on the album, giving it an overall average score. The score which each song receives will be decided by the following:

  • Songwriting: Is the song well put together? Is it unique or derivative? Are the lyrics any good?
  • Arrangement: is the song well arranged and put together in a listenable way?
  • Production: does the production go with or against the song?
  • Performance: does the performance of the band hold up and match the song?

I hope you enjoy this series. I have been enjoying writing it and looking in depth at some of my favorite music in the world. See you at the next post, when we’ll focus on 1994’s WEEZER (THE BLUE ALBUM).

Music, Weezer

Justin Hoenke’s Weezer Song Rankings (Summer 2016 Edition)

weezer2014splash

To read the 2016 Edition of my Weezer Song Rankings, please click here!

As any completely obsessed Weezer fan may do, I’ve spent a good part of this year rating and ranking all (I think I’ve got them all) of Weezer/Rivers Cuomo’s catalog of songs that I have heard. Having been a devoted fan since 1994, a lot of my personality and history is tied into this band. I wanted to understand my listenings habit and decided that this song rankings list was the best thing for me to do to help me in my quest!

THE METHOD

First and foremost, I organized the songs by proper album releases. If the song was not on an album, I did my best to fit it into a category that made sense to me. Most of these songs ended up as B-Sides or Unreleased, but some went into the specific category of Album 5 Demos. Perhaps when I do my second pass at these rankings I will get into further detail but for now, the songs rest where they are. I decided on a simplified “1-10′ rankings style instead of getting into decimals and very specific song rankings. Perhaps those very detailed rankings are for another list, but for now I’d rather spend that extra time with my family. Songs only went into one album category. While I understand this may throw off the rankings a bit, I did this out of ease. One example of this is Longtime Sunshine. I placed this song on the album Songs From the Black Hole instead of listing it on Alone I-III or Pinkerton. Tracks on deluxe editions were mostly placed into the B-Sides category.

THE ALBUM RANKINGS

  1. Pinkerton
  2. The Blue Album
  3. Songs From the Black Hole
  4. The Green Album
  5. Everything Will Be Alright In The End
  6. Make Believe
  7. The Red Album
  8. B-Sides and The White Album
  9. Maladroit
  10. Unreleased
  11. Death to False Metal
  12. Raditude
  13. Album 5 Demos
  14. Alone I-II-III
  15. Hurley

The top and bottom of this list came as no surprise. Albums 1-3 have consistently ranked this way for me. Albums 11-15 came out pretty much as expected, other than Alone I-II-II ranking at #14. Alone is listed as one collection, and being a demos collection suffers from some less than exceptional songs or sketches of songs. I believe this is the main reason that the set of 3 albums ranks so low.

Albums 4-11 surprised me considerably. I had long thought that I did not hold The Green Album in high regards, but these rankings changed my mind. I expected The Red Album to be ranked higher, but in review of my ratings I see that what I really like from that album are two songs specifically: The Angel and The One and The Greatest Man That Ever Lived. Albums 4-11 also suggest to me that I am more of a fan of albums that contain more straight-forward pop songs (Green, Make Believe) than albums that branch out a bit (Maladroit, The Red Album). Individually, I may like some songs on the albums that branch out more but as a whole I enjoy the straightforward pop albums more.

THE SONG RANKINGS

Songs from Pinkerton and The Blue Album ranked the highest as expected. The rest of the songs that were ranked between 7-10 were quite a mix of songs from all different eras of Weezer. This confirms something to me that I’ve thought long about Weezer: a good song is a good song no matter the era it came from. Weezer’s music from 1994 to present has varied greatly in style and composition, but at the core the good songs stand out. The songs at the bottom of the rankings stand out to me as well because a lot of them are fragments or demos. This suggests that I prefer more complete recordings over demos.

MY TAKEAWAYS

  • Despite the fact that The Green Album is very much a straightforward collection of pop music with songs containing very similar structures, it turns out that I like it quite a bit! I will listen again to this album over the next few months and report back.
  • At the time of its release, Make Believe was widely panned by critics and fans alike as being a “sell out” album. It is easy to see this with the success of Beverly Hills and Perfect Situation as singles. However as a whole the album stands up as a great collection of songs. Most of the songs on the album have ratings of 7 or 8.
  • The song rankings on Maladroit are very interesting, with all of the songs either ranking at 6  or 7 (Two songs get a five and Possibilities gets a 2).
  • No song from Hurley ranks higher than a 6.

 

Curious about my past writings on Weezer? You can read them by clicking here

Music, Weezer

REVIEW: WEEZER “HURLEY” PART 2

One week later and I’ll say this…my first review was a bit off the mark.  With about 20 listens, I can give you a better review.

(for my first Hurley review, go here)

Hurley is a pretty fantastic pop album.  All of the songs are very well crafted, well produced, and well executed.  The Red Album and Raditude had some very strong (in some ways, stronger) songs but the albums had way too many ups and downs to be consistent.  Hurley fixes that to some extent.  The weakest song in my opinion is the dark-ish Brave New World. I’ve tried to wrap my head about the song but something’s off.  Perhaps it would’ve worked better on another album.

Raditude tread the lines of being a “Rivers Cuomo Solo Album” and Hurley has the same vibe. I look at the writing credits and the extra musicians on the album and wonder why Rivers couldn’t collaborate more with his extremely talented bandmates.  I wonder why Ryan Adams takes such a center stage on the recording of Run Away (playing bass and guitar).

Rivers shines on this album (which could be another reason why it has a solo album vibe).  His vocals are strong and his writing (solo and collaboration) is pretty spot on.  What I miss are interjections from the rest of the band.  I always enjoy the brief cameos by Pat, Brian, and Scott and their steady and reliable backing.  It’s on the album but…it’s just in the back a wee little bit.

I’m now digging Hang On and I take back my “Andrew WK-esque and forced poppiness” comment.  It’s a simple and effective pop song.  I think I was thrown off by the triumphant introduction.  The discovery of Brian’s backing vocals at the end of this tune are killer.

The bonus songs on the Deluxe edition feel like scraps tossed onto the package to get more album sales from the diehard fans.  Represent (Rocked Out Mix) is a killer tune but I’ve already got the single edition and that’s much better.  After the bonus tracks on the last two albums, this one leaves a lot to be desired.