Life, Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 7/14): The Red Album

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Released June 3, 2008
Recorded Spring – Autumn 2007 at Shangri La Studios and Malibu Performing Arts Center in Malibu, California; early 2008 at Threshold Studios in Santa Monica, California
Length 41:23
Label DGC, Interscope
Producer Rick Rubin, Jacknife Lee, Weezer

A daring venture for Weezer, The Red Album finds the band at an interesting point in their career. At times, it still feels like Rivers is in charge. At other times, the band feels like a band where all of the band has input into the songs and songwriting. In then end, The Red Album is a pretty good album full of some great songs and some misses.

TROUBLEMAKER

Songwriting: A simple but effective rock song, the lyrics are a bit corny but other things make up for them.
Arrangement: Great stuff that keeps the song moving along. Scott has a great bass line in the verses that is simple but welcome.
Production: Designed to be cranked to 11, this song delivers on the rock end of things.
Performance: Overall a pretty good band performance. Nothing special but nothing bad.
SCORE: 6

THE GREATEST MAN THAT EVER LIVED

Songwriting: A journey through many ideas, sounds, and styles. The melody is killer, the moods are great, and this is Rivers doing what he does best: putting his mind to a song, focusing on the end product, and delivering something unique.
Arrangement: The song changes style so many times, and each section is magnificent. I would not change a thing.
Production: Perfect. The song is epic and everything that went into the production adds to the epic-ness. Is that a word? We’ll roll with it here.
Performance: The band at one of its best Post Pinkerton moments.
SCORE: 10

PORK AND BEANS

Songwriting: It sounds like Rivers is doing his best to marry the classic Weezer sound with the new Weezer sound on this one. I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t work although the song is fine.
Arrangement: The band is emphasizing the chorus in this one, and it really works well. The quiet/loud dynamics really work.
Production: Great El Scorcho vibes in the verse and bridge. A nice nod to the past.
Performance: Nothing special, but still pretty good
SCORE: 7

HEARTSONGS

Songwriting: A well written song that keeps moving. Great melody and a strong chord structure. The thing that brings it down a bit are the lyrics. They’re just kind of too corny.
Arrangement: Great. Wonderful vibe on this one with the band really finding their place in each song.
Production: Laid back and a bit mellow. I’m into this. It feels new for Weezer. The sampled keyboard bits sound a bit off.
Performance: Above average.
SCORE: 6

EVERYBODY GET DANGEROUS

Songwriting: A rocker and one that works. The lyrics may seem corny but when given a review they work and they make you think of your stupid adolescent years.
Arrangement: It works. The song flows and really picks up the pace at the bridge which is easily the best part of the song.
Production: Good stuff. It sounds like the band had fun on this one.
Performance: Weezer performs this one well which makes it more enjoyable.
SCORE: 6

DREAMIN’

Songwriting: Great episodic songwriting from Rivers, the song is a good blend of the old and new. The bridge “there are bluebirds” section is really some great writing.
Arrangement: Well done. The verses and chorus move along nicely, and the middle section is the most mood evoking part of the song.
Production: Simple at times yet also expanding for the band.
Performance: A great performance.
SCORE: 8

THOUGHT I KNEW

Songwriting: Brian Bell as the songwriter for Weezer. The structure is nice and the melody to the chorus is great.
Arrangement: I like this take on his song. It is a bit more positive than the version by Brian’s band The Relationship.
Production: Simple stuff, but it works for this song.
Performance: Patrick Wilson on lead guitar is the best part of this song. He is not only one of my favorite drummers, but we need to respect him as a lead guitarist too. His touches on this song show that.
SCORE: 6

COLD DARK WORLD

Songwriting: A Rivers and Scott co-write, this song is often really put down in Weezer fan circles. I’m going to disagree with them. While nothing extremely special, this song has some good writing that shines over the average lyrics.
Arrangement: The song breathes and lets the bass and drums drive things. This is great.
Production: Sparse, but it really gives the feel of a cold, dark world. I would not change a thing.
Performance: I like the performance, especially from Pat and Scott.
SCORE: 6

AUTOMATIC

Songwriting: Patrick Wilson as the Weezer songwriter. This is a great rock song from Pat, and it really has that “huge, crushing” sound I often associate with his band, The Special Goodness.
Arrangement: A huge rock song, but not something that is going to be constantly smashing into your face. The instruments are well place and organized and that brings the beauty of the song to the forefront.
Production: HUGE guitars and bass. This song needs this.
Performance: Pat and Scott (on guitar and bass) really make this shine.
SCORE: 6

THE ANGEL AND THE ONE

Songwriting: A free flowing, soul baring exercise the builds and grows. This song feels personal and it comes out in the lyrics and melody. Exquisite.
Arrangement: The band slowly builds this one up. Weezer are masters at the slow build up.
Production: Four guys in a room with a great song. Just let that be that and keep it simple. The band follows the song on this one.
Performance: It feels like a true band performance, and when the band is ON you feel it.
SCORE: 10

THE FINAL WORD

The Red Album is a hodge-podge of feelings for the listener. It contains some of Weezer’s best work at times and at others some of its most middle of the road stuff. I was happy to see the band being more of band with this one. The other guys in Weezer are great songwriters and they need to shine as well. The Greatest Man That Ever Lived and The Angel and The One are two of the best Weezer songs ever, so their presence really elevates the album. I have a hard time listening to the songs from the Deluxe Edition of the album…not because they are bad but because they are so great and they were left off of the album. If they were on the album, I could see this album being one of their all time best right up there with Pinkerton. Since they’re not there, it’s a spotty affair.

TOTAL POINTS: 71
AVERAGE SCORE: 7.10

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Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 6/14): Make Believe

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Released: May 10, 2005
Recorded: December 2003 – February 2005
Studios: Cello Studios, Grandmaster Recorders, Henson Studios, and Rick Rubin’s home studio
Length: 45:09
Label: DGC/Geffen
Producer Rick Rubin

After the one-two punch of The Green Album (2001) and Maladroit (2002), Weezer fans were expecting another album to come quickly in 2003. Up to that point, the band had been on fire with new songs and music. The second part of their career was off to a great start. However, fans would have to wait three years for Make Believe, the fifth Weezer album. Upon its release, the album was met with criticism, the most notable being from Pitchfork. That review seems to have shaped a lot of the public perception about the album, but twelve years later upon listening to the album again I am finding it to be a lot different than I thought.

BEVERLY HILLS

Songwriting: Boom, Boom, Chop! Boom, Boom, Chop! That’s the rhythm, and it is sure different for Weezer. The lyrics seem to show a different version of Rivers, one that back in 2005 was a bit jarring.
Arrangement: A standard pop song with a great structure and flow.
Production: The entire Make Believe sound is clean, but at the same time it is a welcome sound. There’s nothing here too jarring and everything is pretty pleasant.
Performance: They sound like a band, and any time Weezer sounds like a band it is a good thing.
SCORE: 6

PERFECT SITUATION

Songwriting: A true pop gem, it has a strong wordless chorus, great verses, and a really wonderful bridge.
Arrangement: It starts with a guitar solo! How great is that?
Production: Very standard rock band stuff, but at the same time this feels like what Weezer 2.0 should sound like.
Performance: The band performs the hell out of this one.
SCORE: 8

THIS IS SUCH A PITY

Songwriting: Some lyrics make you scratch your head, but the overall product is good. When the chorus kicks in you don’t care. You just really enjoy it.
Arrangement: Some great parts played by the band here. I especially like the guitars.
Production: This doesn’t really sound like the Weezer that at this point knew of, but the expansion of their sound on this one is welcome.
Performance: Great overall performance by the band. A steady gallop with some great playing.
SCORE: 8

HOLD ME

Songwriting: Almost like a lullaby, this song can really catch your ear. The chorus is triumphant, but to me those verses are the things that grab me every time.
Arrangement: Great bass lines from Scott Shriner really move this song along. This is some of his best playing in Weezer.
Production: The production lets the song breathe and the melody soar.
Performance: Another great performance by the band, specially Scott.
SCORE: 7

PEACE

Songwriting: A very simple song, but the music really lets the emotional message of the song speak out. Great chorus and wordless second chorus.
Arrangement: The simple addition of the acoustic guitar really moves the song along. It wouldn’t be as great if it wasn’t for that.
Production: Basic and laid back to let the emotions in the song power everything.
Performance: It amazes me, listening to this 12 years after it was released, how fresh this feels. The performance of the band keeps it this way.
SCORE: 8

WE ARE ALL ON DRUGS

Songwriting: A pretty great intro followed by boring verses and an even more cringeworthy chorus. Does Rivers have to put one song on each of these new albums that is just really, really not that good?
Arrangement: The song does rock, but that doesn’t really make up for the fact that it is terrible.
Production: Great guitar tone.
Performance: Pat is a fantastic drummer!
SCORE: 2

THE DAMAGE IN YOUR HEART

Songwriting: This is a perfect example of Rivers at his Make Believe era best. Songs that are emotional yet restrained. It’s almost like he took up meditation or something (he did).
Arrangement: A wonderful and simple arrangement lets the emotions of the song out.
Production: The guitars are simple and beautiful. The addition of what sounds like some strings in the background really help the song move along.
Performance: Like all good Weezer songs, you can tell when the band enjoys the song because they play it really well.
SCORE: 8

PARDON ME

Songwriting: The intro builds something up but….it just never really comes through. You hear Rivers really laying it all on the line emotionally here but something just feels off.
Arrangement: The piano driven verses are pretty wonderful. The chorus, which is meant to be big and loud, just kind of lets the listener down.
Production: The chorus could have used something else. It just feels flat.
Performance: I don’t feel much from this one.
SCORE: 5

MY BEST FRIEND

Songwriting: “The Rocker” songs from Green and Maladroit fell flat, and here we are with the second rocker on this album. Guess what? It falls flat too.
Arrangement: It is like they are zipping through the song and repeating the structure over and over again.
Production: I read somewhere that this one was going be on a soundtrack for one of the Shrek films. This production sounds like it.
Performance: Weezer, you can do better with rock songs.
SCORE: 3

THE OTHER WAY

Songwriting: This kind of songwriting marries Pinkerton era raw lyrics with Weezer 2.0 songwriting experiment  lyrics and structure. I like this!
Arrangement: Every instrument and part feels perfectly performed and where it needs to be.
Production: Once again, the acoustic guitar comes along to really move the song along. Great addition.
Performance: The band enjoying a great song. Is that a saxophone I hear in the solo section? I hope so.
SCORE: 8

FREAK ME OUT

Songwriting: The lyrics might be a bit strange, but the song is just really well written and, combined with a great production, it makes it a song that you can’t forget.
Arrangement: Amazing. Every move made in this song serves the song.
Production: The harmonic guitars are perfect, the drums are simple and amazing, and Scott lays the bass end down. Perfect.
Performance: The performance fits the song, and every performance that fits the song makes the song go to high levels
SCORE: 8

HAUNT YOU EVERY DAY

Songwriting: I read somewhere that Rick Rubin instructed Rivers to write a song on piano and this came out, and that when Rick Rubin did this same thing with Tom Petty the song that came out of that was “It’s Good To Be King”.  This must be a great exercise for songwriters.
Arrangement: The outro does go on a bit too long, but the rest of the song is great. The lead up to the second chorus is a great moment on the album.
Production: Another shining example of Make Believe era Weezer.
Performance: A solid performance from all band members. Scott’s simple bass line really holds the song down.
SCORE: 8

THE FINAL WORD

Make Believe did not deserve the negative reviews it got back in 2005. This album has at least 7 really good songs on it, two that could go either way, and two duds. That’s not bad at all. I think people were mostly shocked to hear “Beverly Hills” and that they were just waiting for something that was like that song so they could tear Weezer 2.0 apart. Sadly, Make Believe was the album where that happened, but it did not deserve it. Give it another listen with some fresh ears. It’s actually really good.

TOTAL POINTS: 79
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.58

Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

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

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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