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Weezer: The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly

Weezer: The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly

This Sunday night, Weezer headlines Free Press Summer Fest III, and the influential pop-rockers have been a part of indie lore for the past 17 years. With 1994's self-titled "Blue Album" and 1996's Pinkerton, the band created a cult following whom they would promptly weird the fuck out with subsequent discs that weren't the pained odes to longing and emotional cripples that people wanted them to be.

To keep asking someone like lead singer and main songwriter River Cuomo for six more Pinkerton-style albums is like asking Brian Wilson to keep making more Pet Sounds or telling Radiohead to "sound like The Bends forever": It's not going to happen.

Rocks Off culled all the band's official releases and did quick reviews on each to get you ready for this weekend's gig, which is sure to snap plenty of us back to junior high and high school, the years when Weezer grabbed us by the heart strings or tear ducts and didn't stop letting go.

The Blue Album (1994)

Is this the Never Mind The Bollocks of the modern emo and pop-punk set? Cuomo and producer Ric Ocasek set up on a tall hill like a elite sniper team, picking off modern-rock with ten stellar, expertly crafted cuts. You can hear Cheap Trick, the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., a dose of the Cars, and Pavement over these ten nerdy commandments.

In an age when rock stars had long, lustrous hair and were prone to Messianic tirades, Cuomo was a welcome and geeky change. Don't forget the input of Matt Sharp, who would create The Rentals alongside Weezer and become a hidden treasure in his own right.

Standouts: The whole thing, but if pressed to pick one, "Say It Ain't So."

Pinkerton (1996)

People hold this album dear to their hearts like the only picture of their dead grandmother they saved from a raging fire. Bring this album up in most any conversation amongst kids born after 1980, and you will see their hearts glowing in their chests through their hoodies. It was the first time most kids had heard such honesty in their music since their first smuggled punk-rock album, and Cuomo's pain was real and not a grunge-era concoction to wear over your favorite flannel.

Standouts: "Getchoo," "Across The Sea," "Pink Triangle" "El Scorcho"... oh shit, the whole thing.

The Green Album (2001)

The band came off a nostalgic comeback tour and went into the studio high on fan love to make what would become easily their most precision-laden album to date. The hooks are vicious, the lyrics are gut-wrenching ("O Girlfriend") and it includes "Hash Pipe" which would begin the strange trend of each Weezer album holding at least one corny, radio-bait single to bring in fair-weather fans and push units out the door.

Standouts: "O Girlfriend," "Island In The Sun," "Don't Let Go"

 

Maladroit (2002)

High off making a comeback in 2000 and releasing that green album, Weezer went for the brass ring and bit off a little more than their fanbase was willing to watch them chew. Cuomo comes out as a closet metalhead, and the band cranks up the metallic jams on "Dope Nose" and "Burndt Jam" in case anyone thought they sat around listening to Elliott Smith in a dark room. People thought the band had affixed the metal onto their sound as a joke, but Cuomo was deadly serious.

Standouts: "Fall Together," "Burndt Jam," "Slob"

Make Believe (2005)

Enter superproducer Rick Rubin: Make Believe is a dark Weezer album, and we're not just talking about the cover art. This is the beginning of a pronounced Weezer period where Cuomo begins imitating Steve Miller more than Frank Black. Lead single "Beverly Hills" came with a Playboy Playmate-infested MTV clip, but don't let that track fool you, this is a depressing Weezer outing - just crank "Pardon Me." This is the sound of Cuomo making sense of a decade of being worshipped, and what that means to him as a new husband and father.

Standouts: "Perfect Situation," "We Are All On Drugs," "Pardon Me"

The Red Album (2008)

Cuomo grows a really non-straight-looking moustache and the band attempts to bless this album by not putting a name on it, thus turning it into a "color" album, which doesn't work even with Rubin lying on the studio couch and pointing at the console. Weezer turns away from being Generation Y's emo heroes and becomes another OK Go, putting YouTube stars in their videos and shoving an enema bottle full of gimmicks up the collective asses of their increasingly befuddled fanbase.

Standouts: "Pork And Beans," "Troublemaker"

Raditude (2009)

"(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" is all you need to know about Raditude. Dr. Luke, Jacknife Lee, Polow Da Don, and pop maestro Butch Walker all had a hand in the production, and it proved to be too much. Check Dr. Luke's credits and come back. We'll wait. Yep, he helped write Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." Case, rested. Also, look for Lil' Wayne on "Can't Stop Partying" - because you know, Cuomo thinks he's a rapper every few songs, and rap is funny.

Standouts: "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To," "I'm Your Daddy"

Hurley (2010)

Yes, that is Hurley from Lost on the album cover, because fuck, it why not? Pop culture! The band comes to indie-punk label Epitaph and shows signs of life outside the stilted memes and blockage, but we are still wondering who their target audience is now...

Standout: "Memories"

Death To False Metal (2010)

A collection of songs that didn't make it onto the last decade and a half of albums for one reason or another, False Metal is still a treat for longtime fans who just want an album of songs, not commercials and pop-culture references.

Standout: "I'm A Robot"


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