I write this with the utmost gumption to say that this in no way intends to put down one of my favorite bands of all time (or rather of the years 1994-1996). Weren’t those just the golden years of effortlessly made alternative rock masterpieces? Remember when a band of assholes from Berkeley, CA made a record called “Shit” (in so many words), stole a Grammy, and sold 15 million copies? I know I do, it was everyone’s favorite now -eyeliner-sporting political satirists Fall Out Boy Green Day. And taken from the EXACT same era was Weezer’s “Blue Album,” which managed to the capture the hearts of everyone (did I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE) in 1994. The royalty checks are still being cashed every time an eight year old chooses a song to play in Rock Band simply based on the band name that sounds the silliest.
These are distressing times. The top two albums last week in terms of sales were The Game’s “LAX” (don’t get me wrong, My Life is a powerful track) and Slipknot’s “All Hope Is Gone.” Wait, what? I demand a recount! Where is Weezer’s 6th studio album, The Red Album? I can only assume the reason Weezer isn’t the buzz around indie rock circles and middle school emo kid lunch tables is because the new songs bear little resemblance to the Weezer of old. Would I trade “Undone (The Sweater Song)” for “Pork and Beans”? Certainly not. What about “My Name is Jonas” for “Troublemaker”? Good heavens, no. Weezer has traded self-mocking, fuzz-based rock tracks for lyrics like “I’m a troublemaker, never been a faker” and “Put me in a special school, cause I am such a fool, and I don’t need a single book to teach me how to read.” Wait, didn’t Rivers Coumo go to Harvard?! Last time I checked they still used books there.
And have you heard about the Hootenanny Tour? Why would I, or anyone, ever want to go to a concert of my favorite band from the 90s to hear Joey Bag-of-Donuts (on his Walmart acoustic guitar no less) fuck up the chords to an already easy 4-chord song? I’ll take your silence to be tacit agreement: Weezer was better when they were writing songs for themselves and the 5 people that originally bought the Blue Album the week it came out because they thought it was a German techno group. Indie rock isn’t about camaraderie, acceptance, or collaborative lyric writing! I buy albums because 1) I’ve never heard of them, 2) the band name has at least 4 words, and 3) because Pitchfork gave them a 6.0 (anything higher and you can be sure the writer was lying or sleeping with someone in the band). I liked Cuomo’s songwriting a lot better when he went insane from the pressures of NOT living up to Geffen Records’ expectations rather than catering to them.
But all’s fair in love and alternative music. People change and bands become vegans and only wear TOMS Shoes. If I wore what I used to wear when I listened to bands like Green Day or Weezer I’d still be a virgin so maybe we should let Weezer slide for their recent descent into commercialism and their failed attempt to reach it (“Beverly Hills, that’s where I want to be!”). Hear’s to hoping that Cuomo loses his mind again and we can enjoy songwriting from an era when sophomore releases were even better than their predecessors.