Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Reflecting Pool - Weezer - Weezer (Black Album)


Weezer - Weezer (Black Album) - 2019

Weezer keeps threatening to rock hard. These are the guys who named a comp record Death to False Metal. But, do they "rock"? 

They have an upcoming record called Van Weezer and I worry that its another threat that won't pay off.

This one is...well, look at that cover. They really want you to think this is the one. The dark rocking Weezer rekkid we've been waiting for.

That opens with a...somewhat Arabic rhythm and sound and...gleeps and glicks. (Green Day did this better on "Peacemaker")

Who is buying Weezer records at this point? Uber Weezer fans? Are they called something? Weezheads? I wanna call them Weezheads. 

"High As a Kite" is the kind of lazy and melodic Raspberries tune we've come to expect from Rivers. It's lovely.

"Piece of Cake". "I'm Just Being Honest". Straight out of the Cuomo machine. "Too Many Thoughts in My Head". Cookie cutter. 

It's nice that Laura Grace co-wrote "Byzantine" but I find that song hummable and forgettable. 

Grade: C

ASide: High As a Kite

Reflecting Pool = Weezer - Weezer (Teal)

Weezer - Teal Album - 2019

I really hated this when it came out. I kind of didn't understand it. It's full of keyboards and Weezer isn't a keyboard band. Plus, I really really reallllllllly hate Tribute Albums by individual bands. Remember that terrible Thank You record by Duran Duran? Or Spaghetti Incident? 

This one starts off really weird with "Africa"? I get why they did it's not all that. It reminds you that the original is better. 

And from there it just plays like a jukebox of songs Rivers liked growing up. And that's great when it gets to Sabbath and A-Ha and ELO.

But then we get "No Scrubs" and an earnest but useless version of "Billie Jean". 

Much of this is unnecessary but would be fine to walk to on the treadmill in the gym.

Grade: C


Refelcting Pool - Weezer - Pacific Daydream

Weezer - Pacific Daydream - 2017

On that opener, "Mexican Fender", is Weezer biting on "Baba O'Reilly"?? Sure sounds like it. 

Man, this is a crunchy record. If the previous one was light and airy and full of summer this one is...bigger, more expansive and...darker. 

And that album cover might be my favorite in their entire catalog. Surpassing Everything Will Be Alright as my favorite Weezer album cover. 

A lot of this makes sense, sonically, since it's produced by Butch Walker. He's magic on the knobs. 

But it's really much ado about nothing cuz the songs are distractingly uninteresting. Songs like "Sweet Mary" and "Out There" really require LESS production, guys. 

Grade: C+

A Side: Mexican Fender, Weekend Woman

BlindSide: Sweet Mary, Out There 


Reflecting Pool - Weezer - White Album


Weezer - Weezer (White) - 2016

Is this Weezer's "Beach Album"? It sure starts off like that. But it also starts off in trad Qeez fashion, with a four on the floor beat and a staccato 1/16th strum on the guitar ala Ramones without the meth. 
And Brian Bell is a better lead guitarist than the Ramones ever had. 
Let's note that the opener, which a perfect Cali PCH riding son, was co-written by the guy from Semisonic who wrote "Closing Time", so it's bound to be hooky.
From there we approximate Beach Boys choruses via Cuomo and the boys. 
"Thank God for Girls" is what I expect from them as a single. Mid-Tempo "Beverly Hills" redux that touches the harpstrings of Hip Hop and doesn't 100% succeed in that. But that don't make it not good. It's just not bad. 
The highlight of side one is that "Islands in the Sun" beach tune, "Girl We Got a Good Thing", which is a Power Pop Glam Rock Beach Boys amalgam. Wilson is pounding that quarter note beat and I just realized....Wilson! There's a Wilson in Weezer!
"Do You Wanna Get High" is a prime example of proof that Cuomo is a perfect songsmith for his own band. He knows how to do it, he does it well and they come along for the ride. 
Song Exploder featured Cuomo and "Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori" where Rivers explained his very meticulous, spreadsheet oriented way of songwriting. And I love that story, the song and especially the chorus.
This album is terrific. Well, a terrific Weezer album. 

Grade: A
A Side: California Kids, Do You Wanna Get High?, Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori
Blind Side: (Girl We Got a) Good Thing, King of the World, Jacked Up, Endless Bummer

Reflecting Pool - Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End - 2014

Wow does this album explode. And explode with self-reflection and...guilt?
"Back to the Shack" attacks not only American Idol and those garbage pop idol machines but also Rivers' own foray into radio friendly pap.
And it doesn't let up.
Rivers is still teaming up with other songwriters like Justin Hawkins and Bethany Cosento (!!!), who lend him a nice glam Power Rock hand and Indie Surf Pop cred respectively but that doesn't diminish anything here. In fact, it just makes the record more enjoyable.  And it's the uber-weird songs like "The British Are Coming" and The Futurescope Trilogy that are the real standouts.
I even enjoy the earnest pop rock Aggr0-Raspberries "Foolish Father". 

Grade: A

A Side: Ain't Got Nobody, Back to the Shack
Blind Side: Eulogy For a Rock Band, The British Are Coming, Da Vinci, Go Away, Foolish Father


Reflecting Pool - Weezer - Hurley


Weezer - Hurley - 2010

One thing that caught me off guard as I listened to this album for the 1st time in 11 years is that it starts off with a fucking banger. "Memories" is a helluvan opener and I could see it leading off a concert. If I were them I would open the show with this and then go into a bank of retro hits before returning to the album.

Turning 30 seems to have had an influence on Rivers as he starts to look back on his life but refuses to let go of his desire to rock. He's always been a nerd rocker. But he has always wished he was cooler and that creates this bizarre Beta Hard Rock Power Pop that, dammit, it works. 

Maybe it's that I'm 11 years older and I've come around to lower my expectations or maybe the 11 years ago me was so full of judgment that he couldn't see this album for what it is: a collection of heavier than they need to be Power Pop songs and that Weezer really claims to want to be a cock rock band but, at their core, they want to be Cheap Trick. 

Gread: B+

ASide: Memories, Ruling Me, Unspoken, Where's My Sex

BlindSide: Trainwrecks, Hang On

Monday, December 28, 2020

The 1981 Listening Post - Willie Nile - Golden Down

 Willie Nile - Golden Down


April 1 1981

Willie Nile

Golden Down

Genre: Rock!

4.75 out of 5


Poor Boy


Golden Down

Champs Elysees

I had never heard of Willie Nile until I started listening to music from back in the 80s again and then I found myself in a very cool Rock themed hotel in St. John’s, Newfoundland and, right there in the lobby, amidst the Springsteen and Jagger was a framed picture of Willie. It was next to the hotel. And I had JUST heard his first album, which I adored. 

So, I’ve been looking forward to the follow up, which is his last record until 1991.

It’s bigger. But it’s also muddier. It has more Petty in it than it does Bruce. Willie crackles with the heart of a band leader at Max’s Kansas City on a Friday night in 1981, the band is whip smart and they are game for anything he throws at them. 

Does “I Like the Way” sounds d a little too like Dylan? Yeah. But the thing is, by this time, Dylan didn’t sound like Dylan and the world needs Dylan and if there’s a close enough approximation without seeming like he’s ripping him off entirely, this is it. 

And I don’t really love Bob but I liked this. 

There are some real scorchers on this thing, like the title track and “Hide Your Love” and it really never lets up.

The 1981 Listening Post - Tygers of Pan Tang - Spellbound

 Tygers of Pan Tang - Spellbound


By Timothy Sprague

Tygers of Pan Tang


Genre: Metal

Allen’s Rating: 4 out of 5

Tim’s Rating: 1.5 out of 5

If Allen Lulu is going to randomly assign a heavy metal album album for you to review, you could do worse than Tygers of Pan Tang.  This is more of the Van Halen party music variety of metal, as opposed to the faux-Satanic spandex and big hair type. I really don’t like metal vocals and shreddy guitar playing but, in the spirit of this project, have done my best to give this album a chance. The sound definitely evokes the 1980s and the boys certainly have some chops.  It’s the kind of album that I assume hardcore metalheads feel is an under-appreciated classic.  The tempos are fast and the rhythm section chugs along nicely.  But those vocals… just not my scene, man.  The thing is, I appreciate how hard it must be to sing like that but I would not be caught dead with this album blasting out of my car windows.  It is the epitome of the conformist corporate-approved “rock sound” of the time.  The closest thing I can tolerate is Ian Gillan on Jesus Christ Superstar and some of the better Deep Purple tunes.  As a prog rock fan, I dabble in Dream Theater a bit, but even that gets tedious for me when the guy starts singing again after the cool instrumental parts.  One can picture many frizzy-haired young men in 1981 stuffing a sock in their tight acid-washed jeans and rocking out to Spellbound.  And probably thinking it will get them laid.  You get the idea.  

On the other hand, if I were going to drive 120 miles per hour down the freeway to oblivion, this album would not be out of place.  Some early Sabbath or AC/DC are more my speed in that scenario.  Tygers of Pan Tang were clearly good enough to get a recording contract, but simply pale in comparison to the masters of the genre.

The 1981 Listening Post - The Flying Lizards - Fourth Wall

 The Flying Lizards - Fourth Wall

1981 Housekeeping

The Flying Lizards

Fourth Wall

Genre: Studio antics

1.5 out of 5

Requisite 80s cover: Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”. I’m not sure if they were trying to deconstruct this or get on the radio with it. Either way, it’s not a success. 

I was having a discussion today about something I’ve been noticing in female vocalists lately. If you are on Tik Tok you will no doubt have heard “Renee” by Sales or “Coffee for Your Head” by POWFU. Both highlight the female Vox, even though the latter is an annoying dirge rap about death. And in both cases, the women sound like they are trying as hard as they can to sound like insipid 9 year olds. 

I find I have mixed emotions about this sound. Much as I loathe “baby talk” I think when the songs are good and the vocals match, cloying as they may be, they work. I’m thinking a lot of Lenka and Regina Spektor in this regard. And, back in the 80s, Thumbelina Guglielmo and, to an extent, Siouxie Sioux.

So, it happens that this album came up next and the very first track featured a sort of insipid sing song forced pre-pubescent female voice and I don’t know if that’s how Patti Paladin sings or if she was putting on an affect. I don’t care for it when Nell did it in Rocky Horror and I don’t care for it here.

Fortunately it doesn’t last long. 

Unfortunately, what follows wasn’t much more than studio noodling. Stoodling. “Hey! Let’s redo “Revolution No. 9. A Lot!”

Why did I go on and on about the vocals on a single track? Because believe me, all that I would have left is to issue a screed. 

No to this. This album was a chore.

The 1981 Listening Post - Fist (as MyoFist) - Fleet Street

 Fist (as MyoFist) - Fleet Street


1981 Housekeeping

Fist (or MyoFist if you prefer the dumb name)

Fleet Street (Thunder in Rock in the US)

Genre: Canadian Rock

4.25 out of 5


Double or Nothing

Fleet Street/Open the Gates

You know how Van Halen II was just a continuation of what they did on the first record? Thunder in Rock is like that. They take their desire to be a big ass crunchy raw band to a more Southern Rock place and add Saxophones and it’s a rock fest. Like, they should be ON a rock fest. Like, I dunno, Monsters of Rock. With the likes of Motorohead and Krokus and Hatchett. 

Which they were. 

That also means they would never land on my radar at the time but, now that we are 40 years hence and I am listening to every goddamned thing the 80s shat out, I am here for Fist. 

Is it the Sax of “Thunder in Rock”? Or the obvious attempt to sound like Gene Simmons on “Leather ’n’ Lace” (with synths!!!)? Is it that “On the Radio” could be a Huey Lewis joint?

All of that. 

Mainly, for me, it’s that there’s a barber chair on the cover and I am a HUGE Sweeney Todd fan. I saw it on Broadway. I saw that weird revival that came through LA. I pretty much burned out the cassette I had of the show. So, I appreciate that a band would name their album “Fleet Street” and put a fucking barber chair on the cover. 

Not sure what people could make of it when the album was renamed the generically AC/DC-esque Thunder in Rock.

But the Holmes and Watson spoken word theater about “People Pies” is actually better than the subsequent song, but damn that B3 section!

The record isn’t as strong as that debut, though, but it’s close.