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The World Has Turned and Weezer is Still Here 

 February 19, 2021

By  Ben Owens

Since approximately 2005, I have been living under the self-delusion that Weezer died in a fiery plane crash and never released any new music after the Pinkerton album. It’s easier to imagine a world where Blue and Pinkerton are the only official albums (Green is a collection of unfinished songs and unreleased B-sides) and we don’t have to think about any further releases from the band. Beverly Hills…it never happened. Pork and Beans? What are you talking about? I have no recollection of this. While this story is better for me, it doesn’t reflect reality and it’s time that I deal with that fact.

Weezer’s Blue album is brilliant, it might even be a perfect album. From beginning to end it doesn’t have any lulls and every song could have been a single. My introduction to Weezer was, like many people, the MTV video for Undone (The Sweater Song). I remember being intrigued by the music but thought the guys looked like nerds. I was listening to a lot of Metallica at the time, plus grunge music was in full swing, so yeah…nerds. But the song was catchy and within a short time I was learning to play the intro on the guitar. Then came the Buddy Holly song. The video was amazing with the cuts of the band playing on an episode of Happy Days. This song was catchy too and the video was hilarious! At this point, I’m completely bought in. My brother got the CD and then it became a part of our listening repertoire. The album really sets a tone with My Name is Jonas and delivers with catchy songs that are great at evoking an emotion. Say It Ain’t So is the song that everyone thinks they know the words to until they realize they don’t. Surf Wax America is a fun ride. In The Garage is the love letter to nerds everywhere. And the album closes with an epic Only In Dreams. When I saw Weezer live in 2001 at the Ft. Worth Convention Center, a group of guys behind and to my left got incredibly high during the show because every time Weezer played a song from the Blue album someone from the group would yell, “we have to smoke to this song, it’s my favorite!” And let me tell you…those guys got HIGH.

Pinkerton came out and my brother picked it up quickly. He’s always ahead of me when it comes to finding good new music. Not that Pinkerton was some sort of dark horse album that people didn’t know about, but in general, he’s always looking ahead to new stuff where I’m content listening to the same 4 bands for the rest of my life (The Beatles, Radiohead, The Allman Brothers, and DMB, just in case you were curious.) When I get a chance to introduce Tim to something new and he likes it, I feel a point of pride…it doesn’t happen often, so I have to soak it up when it does. Either way, he picked up Pinkerton and I think we listened to it a bunch on a family road trip to FL or TX or something. My Immediate reaction was I liked it but didn’t love it. Pinkerton didn’t get the same MTV play that Blue did, I think El Scorcho was the only video/single they put out. Pink Triangle was fun, Butterfly was sad, but I didn’t feel a huge connection to the album until a few years later. I went off to college in 2000, midway through my second semester I had my mom send me a bunch of CDs because I was tired of everything I was listening to. She ended up including some of Tim’s CDs and that how Pinkerton got into my possession full time. It was at this point that I realized how good this album is. The lyrical content was way more personal, Rivers was going through some stuff! I already knew the songs through hearing it throughout the previous 4 years, but now I was LISTENING to it, connecting to it. The band took a big swing with Pinkerton and it took me a while to realize that. What drove the point of how far they had come home even more was how stark the band’s regression was with the Green album.

Back at the Ft. Worth Convention Center in 2001, I had heard the Green album, I think I had the CD. I had listened a few times but Hash Pipe and Island in the Sun weren’t all over the place yet. My roommate gets tickets to the concert but at the last minute has to study for an exam and offers me his ticket. I accept and go to the concert. At this point, I’ve been mainlining Pinkerton for the last year. It’s heavily in the rotation. Yeah, I’m listening to Green, but I’m still deep into Pinkerton. I show up to this concert and they play every song off Green, every song off Blue and maybe El Scorcho…that’s it. It’s not like Weezer songs are long either, so it’s not a runtime issue. I hadn’t read anything about how Rivers was disappointed with how the album was perceived, especially when he put so much of himself personally into the album. I also didn’t realize that Matt Sharp (bass player for first two albums) had left the band. I was just confused that they didn’t mix it up with Pinkerton songs. Then as I listened to Green more, I realized how terribly formulaic it is. Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse Where a Guitar Solo Plays the Vocal Melody, Pre-Chorus, Chorus…rinse and repeat with little variation. The lyrics aren’t digging deep and they’re going to major mass appeal. Feels like a cash grab. Or maybe to them it was a course correction to get back on track. Maybe they got a new bass player and thought, “Hey, let’s keep it simple to establish the new guy.” I don’t know, either way my final thought on the album was and continues to be “it’s fine.”

I remember the lead up to Maladroit coming out and hearing rumors of “this is going to be more like Pinkerton.” I was excited about this! I picked up a magazine at some point that had an interview with Rivers (He Grew A Beard!!), where he talked about kicking the guitar playing up a few notches and really shredding. What a fun idea, especially after the formulaic patterns of the Green album. The album came out and yeah it had some shredding guitar licks but lacked the heart of the first two albums. Dope Nose was alright, Keep Fishin’ had a video with The Muppets, right? Everyone loves The Muppets. It just didn’t have the lasting power of Blue and Pinkerton. I don’t remember anything else; it exited the rotation at some point and has never made its way back in. Also, I still don’t know how to say Maladroit…and I don’t think I care enough to figure it out.

I haven’t listened to any subsequent album from beginning to end. The next album Weezer released had the Beverly Hills song on it. I can’t express to you how disappointing that song was. I gave up on the band at that moment. There was no going back. I had to construct a narrative in my mind to reconcile continuing to listen to Blue and Pinkerton while ignoring any further music releases. Someone once told me the Pork and Beans song was worth listening to…they were a damn liar.

It seems Weezer has put out 11ish records since then! I have ignored so much of that! I heard the Toto/Africa cover, I heard the Unbreak My Heart cover, I heard the Paranoid Android cover. They were good covers, but I don’t need to sit down and listen to a full album of covers.

My good friend James Cronin has been vital in creating/sharing the fictional narrative of Weezer’s demise after the Pinkerton album. It’s a joke we’ve shared over many years and have interjected any time someone brings up the band still being alive. When SNL had a sketch starring Leslie Jones and Matt Damon screaming at each other over Early Weezer vs Late Weezer, James Cronin was the person I immediately thought of and immediately reached out to (or maybe he reached out to me…I can’t recall). I get a text from James a week or so ago in a group thread with The Indicators (shout out to Alaine, Erin, Lindsey, JI, Matt, RG, and one other person.) The text from James made me reckon with an idea I didn’t want to reckon with. That Weezer might be back. That I might get my hopes up again, only to have them dashed. I proceeded cautiously.

Within a half hour, the others on the group thread chimed in with the highlights of Weezer’s new album OK Human. I had to think through how I wanted to listen. I decided to first relisten to My Name is Jonas so that I could have a direct keystone to what I thought of as Weezer Prime. Then I got myself set up to take a walk on the treadmill while listening to this new album. I thought, “Its only 30ish minutes, so if it’s bad it will be over soon!”

I start walking on the treadmill and press play on spotify.

“All my favorite songs are slow and sad”

It begins with those lyrics and I immediately relate to that statement. And the rest of the song is equally accurate with how I and many other people feel. Rivers has tapped into something honest within himself, and I (and others) relate. It’s a reflection of where a lot of people feel with covid life. The album could be titled “Our Collective Depression.”  But I like depressing music…so I dig it.  Where has this honesty been for the last 19ish years? Also, the album starts with two instruments that are not drums, guitars or a bass…so this album is making some moves right off the bat! OK Human is heavily orchestral, makes a lot of strong choices, has beautiful transitions between songs making it feel like a complete piece. The lyrical content is incredibly melancholy, which when paired with the orchestral backing puts it squarely in Pet Sounds territory. At one point on the treadmill I just yelled “Pet Sounds!” during one of the transitions. (Also, go listen to Pet Sounds, it’s great.)

The shining star of this album (for me at least) is the song Numbers, probably followed by Playing My Piano, then maybe Grapes of Wrath. Three songs that I can immediately think of without looking at the track listing already puts it ahead of Green and Maladroit. Is it perfect? No, Screens is a bit too on the nose and throughout the record Rivers’s vocals tend to stay home and never venture out to explore any sort of range. Is it Weezer’s best album or am I even willing to say that Weezer is officially “back?” No. But I will at least acknowledge that they have been alive and making new music for the last 20 years…and that’s progress. I will also acknowledge that I haven’t liked the bulk of that music, but I also don’t think they’re making it for me.

Ok Human did enough to bring me back to the table. I think because this album is in no way trying to be close to Blue or Pinkerton. They’ve tried out a new thing, they took a big swing, and I appreciate that. My brother on the other hand skimmed the album and quickly texted me “OK Human = Same Old Weezer + Orchestra” and a thumbs down emoji. I get it, and on some level, I might even agree with him. He has a higher bar for musicianship, and I think I am more affected by how the music “feels.” OK Human got me to feel some things, to ask some questions and get introspective. Which is a lot more than I can say about that damn Beverly Hills song.

Ben Owens


Questionable entertainment about questionable entertainment brought to you by Ben Owens and Jacob Miller.

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Since approximately 2005, I have been living under the self-delusion that Weezer died in a fiery plane crash and never released any new music after the Pinkerton album. It’s easier to imagine a world where Blue and Pinkerton are the only official albums (Green is a collection of unfinished songs and unreleased B-sides) and we don’t have to think about any further releases from the band. Beverly Hills…it never happened. Pork and Beans? What are you talking about? I have no recollection of this. While this story is better for me, it doesn’t reflect reality and it’s time that I deal with that fact.

Weezer’s Blue album is brilliant, it might even be a perfect album. From beginning to end it doesn’t have any lulls and every song could have been a single. My introduction to Weezer was, like many people, the MTV video for Undone (The Sweater Song). I remember being intrigued by the music but thought the guys looked like nerds. I was listening to a lot of Metallica at the time, plus grunge music was in full swing, so yeah…nerds. But the song was catchy and within a short time I was learning to play the intro on the guitar. Then came the Buddy Holly song. The video was amazing with the cuts of the band playing on an episode of Happy Days. This song was catchy too and the video was hilarious! At this point, I’m completely bought in. My brother got the CD and then it became a part of our listening repertoire. The album really sets a tone with My Name is Jonas and delivers with catchy songs that are great at evoking an emotion. Say It Ain’t So is the song that everyone thinks they know the words to until they realize they don’t. Surf Wax America is a fun ride. In The Garage is the love letter to nerds everywhere. And the album closes with an epic Only In Dreams. When I saw Weezer live in 2001 at the Ft. Worth Convention Center, a group of guys behind and to my left got incredibly high during the show because every time Weezer played a song from the Blue album someone from the group would yell, “we have to smoke to this song, it’s my favorite!” And let me tell you…those guys got HIGH.

Pinkerton came out and my brother picked it up quickly. He’s always ahead of me when it comes to finding good new music. Not that Pinkerton was some sort of dark horse album that people didn’t know about, but in general, he’s always looking ahead to new stuff where I’m content listening to the same 4 bands for the rest of my life (The Beatles, Radiohead, The Allman Brothers, and DMB, just in case you were curious.) When I get a chance to introduce Tim to something new and he likes it, I feel a point of pride…it doesn’t happen often, so I have to soak it up when it does. Either way, he picked up Pinkerton and I think we listened to it a bunch on a family road trip to FL or TX or something. My Immediate reaction was I liked it but didn’t love it. Pinkerton didn’t get the same MTV play that Blue did, I think El Scorcho was the only video/single they put out. Pink Triangle was fun, Butterfly was sad, but I didn’t feel a huge connection to the album until a few years later. I went off to college in 2000, midway through my second semester I had my mom send me a bunch of CDs because I was tired of everything I was listening to. She ended up including some of Tim’s CDs and that how Pinkerton got into my possession full time. It was at this point that I realized how good this album is. The lyrical content was way more personal, Rivers was going through some stuff! I already knew the songs through hearing it throughout the previous 4 years, but now I was LISTENING to it, connecting to it. The band took a big swing with Pinkerton and it took me a while to realize that. What drove the point of how far they had come home even more was how stark the band’s regression was with the Green album.

Back at the Ft. Worth Convention Center in 2001, I had heard the Green album, I think I had the CD. I had listened a few times but Hash Pipe and Island in the Sun weren’t all over the place yet. My roommate gets tickets to the concert but at the last minute has to study for an exam and offers me his ticket. I accept and go to the concert. At this point, I’ve been mainlining Pinkerton for the last year. It’s heavily in the rotation. Yeah, I’m listening to Green, but I’m still deep into Pinkerton. I show up to this concert and they play every song off Green, every song off Blue and maybe El Scorcho…that’s it. It’s not like Weezer songs are long either, so it’s not a runtime issue. I hadn’t read anything about how Rivers was disappointed with how the album was perceived, especially when he put so much of himself personally into the album. I also didn’t realize that Matt Sharp (bass player for first two albums) had left the band. I was just confused that they didn’t mix it up with Pinkerton songs. Then as I listened to Green more, I realized how terribly formulaic it is. Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse Where a Guitar Solo Plays the Vocal Melody, Pre-Chorus, Chorus…rinse and repeat with little variation. The lyrics aren’t digging deep and they’re going to major mass appeal. Feels like a cash grab. Or maybe to them it was a course correction to get back on track. Maybe they got a new bass player and thought, “Hey, let’s keep it simple to establish the new guy.” I don’t know, either way my final thought on the album was and continues to be “it’s fine.”

I remember the lead up to Maladroit coming out and hearing rumors of “this is going to be more like Pinkerton.” I was excited about this! I picked up a magazine at some point that had an interview with Rivers (He Grew A Beard!!), where he talked about kicking the guitar playing up a few notches and really shredding. What a fun idea, especially after the formulaic patterns of the Green album. The album came out and yeah it had some shredding guitar licks but lacked the heart of the first two albums. Dope Nose was alright, Keep Fishin’ had a video with The Muppets, right? Everyone loves The Muppets. It just didn’t have the lasting power of Blue and Pinkerton. I don’t remember anything else; it exited the rotation at some point and has never made its way back in. Also, I still don’t know how to say Maladroit…and I don’t think I care enough to figure it out.

I haven’t listened to any subsequent album from beginning to end. The next album Weezer released had the Beverly Hills song on it. I can’t express to you how disappointing that song was. I gave up on the band at that moment. There was no going back. I had to construct a narrative in my mind to reconcile continuing to listen to Blue and Pinkerton while ignoring any further music releases. Someone once told me the Pork and Beans song was worth listening to…they were a damn liar.

It seems Weezer has put out 11ish records since then! I have ignored so much of that! I heard the Toto/Africa cover, I heard the Unbreak My Heart cover, I heard the Paranoid Android cover. They were good covers, but I don’t need to sit down and listen to a full album of covers.

My good friend James Cronin has been vital in creating/sharing the fictional narrative of Weezer’s demise after the Pinkerton album. It’s a joke we’ve shared over many years and have interjected any time someone brings up the band still being alive. When SNL had a sketch starring Leslie Jones and Matt Damon screaming at each other over Early Weezer vs Late Weezer, James Cronin was the person I immediately thought of and immediately reached out to (or maybe he reached out to me…I can’t recall). I get a text from James a week or so ago in a group thread with The Indicators (shout out to Alaine, Erin, Lindsey, JI, Matt, RG, and one other person.) The text from James made me reckon with an idea I didn’t want to reckon with. That Weezer might be back. That I might get my hopes up again, only to have them dashed. I proceeded cautiously.

Within a half hour, the others on the group thread chimed in with the highlights of Weezer’s new album OK Human. I had to think through how I wanted to listen. I decided to first relisten to My Name is Jonas so that I could have a direct keystone to what I thought of as Weezer Prime. Then I got myself set up to take a walk on the treadmill while listening to this new album. I thought, “Its only 30ish minutes, so if it’s bad it will be over soon!”

I start walking on the treadmill and press play on spotify.

“All my favorite songs are slow and sad”

It begins with those lyrics and I immediately relate to that statement. And the rest of the song is equally accurate with how I and many other people feel. Rivers has tapped into something honest within himself, and I (and others) relate. It’s a reflection of where a lot of people feel with covid life. The album could be titled “Our Collective Depression.”  But I like depressing music…so I dig it.  Where has this honesty been for the last 19ish years? Also, the album starts with two instruments that are not drums, guitars or a bass…so this album is making some moves right off the bat! OK Human is heavily orchestral, makes a lot of strong choices, has beautiful transitions between songs making it feel like a complete piece. The lyrical content is incredibly melancholy, which when paired with the orchestral backing puts it squarely in Pet Sounds territory. At one point on the treadmill I just yelled “Pet Sounds!” during one of the transitions. (Also, go listen to Pet Sounds, it’s great.)

The shining star of this album (for me at least) is the song Numbers, probably followed by Playing My Piano, then maybe Grapes of Wrath. Three songs that I can immediately think of without looking at the track listing already puts it ahead of Green and Maladroit. Is it perfect? No, Screens is a bit too on the nose and throughout the record Rivers’s vocals tend to stay home and never venture out to explore any sort of range. Is it Weezer’s best album or am I even willing to say that Weezer is officially “back?” No. But I will at least acknowledge that they have been alive and making new music for the last 20 years…and that’s progress. I will also acknowledge that I haven’t liked the bulk of that music, but I also don’t think they’re making it for me.

Ok Human did enough to bring me back to the table. I think because this album is in no way trying to be close to Blue or Pinkerton. They’ve tried out a new thing, they took a big swing, and I appreciate that. My brother on the other hand skimmed the album and quickly texted me “OK Human = Same Old Weezer + Orchestra” and a thumbs down emoji. I get it, and on some level, I might even agree with him. He has a higher bar for musicianship, and I think I am more affected by how the music “feels.” OK Human got me to feel some things, to ask some questions and get introspective. Which is a lot more than I can say about that damn Beverly Hills song.

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