Well, It’s Better than the Last One

Glorious Noise and the rest of the world made a very big deal a few weeks ago when Wilco’s new album, which had been rejected by their record label, debuted at number 13 on Billboard’s album chart. It proved, we said, that not only are record company executives weak in the head about what kind of album can sell, but also that peer-to-peer file sharing doesn’t hurt sales. Remember? Wilco streamed their album from their website months before its release, and all their fans traded bootleg copies of an advance release? And it still sold an assload.

Well, our old friends in Weezer one-upped those guys by posting mp3s of their new songs as soon as they left the recording studio each night. These were not just demos; they were that day’s finished products. And not only that, but they even solicited feedback from all the crazed Weezer fanatics on the message boards (and I mean no disrespect by that).

The band paid for the recording time out of their own money, fired their manager, and then mailed self-pressed promo cds to radio stations with their lead-off single, “Dope Nose.” Of course, Interscope/Geffen stepped in, made them recall the unofficial promos, and promptly set a release date for the new album, Maladroit (named by a fan in a contest on their website).

So what do you get when you ignore your label and listen to your most obsessive fans? Another good pop album, except this time with more metal flourishes. And it debuted at number 3!

Metal has always been a part of the Weezer scene from the poster of Quiet Riot in the liner notes of the Blue Album to the ass-kicking drum sound on “Why Bother?” (and all of Pinkerton, for that matter). But now they’re flying their metal flag high with riffs and a guitar tone to match Rivers Cuomos’ new beard, which makes him look like James Hetfield’s retarded little cousin.

But is it any good? It’s better than the last one. It’s looser and not as polished. There are goofy falsetto background vocals (trying valiantly to recapture the glorious Matt Sharp era). There are crazy guitar solos unlike the boring “follow the melody” solos of the last album. There are some good lyrics and some emotive singing. It’s good, it’s fun, what’s not to like? Well, I’ll tell ya…

There gets to be a point in every music lover’s life when you start thinking about minimalism. These ideas usually occur when you’re considering moving into a new apartment and lugging your cds and records down three flights of stairs and up three more. You start to think: how many AC/DC albums do I need? I need Back in Black and Highway to Hell of course, but do I really need For Those About to Rock? What I’m saying is this: if you’re going to take two Weezer albums with you, they’re not going to be the Green Album and Maladroit. Harsh, but sadly true. Weezer has rendered itself irrelevant by stooping to the level of all the Blink 182s and Sum 41s that it spawned and cranking out fun but unsubstantial albums.

I’ll keep buying the albums. Just like I’ve continued to buy the Beastie Boys albums since Check Your Head. Sure, there were a lot of good songs on Ill Communication and a handful on Hello Nasty, but really, if you had to take only three Beastie Boys albums, they’re going to be Licensed to Ill, Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head. There’s no question.

But this is all hypothetical, isn’t it? I’m not going to narrow down my record collection to the bare essentials and neither are you. I’ll keep buying all that shit, and I’ll hire movers when the lease is up. Now, if I can’t afford movers, I can’t afford to move. But at least I didn’t buy the new one by Neil Young. One small step for man, one giant leap for a music freak.

7 thoughts on “Well, It’s Better than the Last One”

  1. I sometimes wonder if the music buying traits of the most of us could be considered a clinical condition. With the new Neil Young, I still find myself picking it up and carrying it around before my brain forces my hands to put it back on the shelf. Why are some of us so compelled to buy music that, often times, isn’t anything we’ll listen to more than a dozen or so times?Why do I have to have the album and all the singles just to get the b-sides?!?! Is there a 12 step for this?

  2. That’s based on overall cultural relevance. If I had to narrow it down to two B-Boys, it would be Paul’s and Head. As much as I love Licensed to Ill, it lacks the complexity of the those two.

  3. But which two Megadeth albums do you keep? I have three right now: Peace Sells is totally a keeper; So Far So Good So What has “Hook in Mouth,” the infamous Tipper Gore rebuttal song; and I have to keep Rust in Peace because it’s got “Tornado of Souls” on it. What’s a metal head to do?

  4. We’re compelled to buy music we won’t listen to more than a dozen or so times because we don’t know that until we get it… unless you guys – other than reviewers – have a pipeline that allows you to listen to whole albums at a time before you buy. Do some stores still do that? Anyway, I can never make up my mind whether an album is a total winner and perennial favorite until I’ve lived with it for a few weeks… sometimes months. Way back when, it took me a whole year to realize that Cheap Trick’s first album was a goddamn masterpiece…. man, I’m old.

  5. Gawdamm! Cheap Trick! I bet that guy throws a mean party … but does anybody go?Undoubtfully, everyone who posts at this site has their ankles at least damp with the concept of Mp3. The pleasures of condensing a collection, maximizing disc space usage- then jettisioning the clunky original are cathartic and under-documented (the entirety of Led Zeppelin’s studio recordings fit nicely on a single 700 mb disc, even ripped at 192 kbps). Of course that flies in the face of those whose fetish falls additionally in the possesion of the object itself -a whole other can of worms…A recently unearthed discovery, is the plethora of palpable Cds many public librarys stock. I borrow a dozen, rip ’em, return ’em -and they occupy a pittance on my iPod. Of course if one of the albums in question is especially noteworthy, I DO end up purchasing it and the very reverse of the condensation process outlined above fluxs to life! DOH!

  6. Blaster, you will succumb to the pleasures of early Cheap Trick… I command it.Part of the pleasure of “collecting” I think is actually owning the product, as you alluded to, but you also have to consider the nettlesome problem of copyright law and paying the artist for their work. I wouldn’t think twice about ripping copies of Rolling Stones material. Hey, they’re rich enough and fans are already overcharged for cd’s that cost a pittance to produce, but I feel bad that my copy of “The Palace at 4 a.m.” is a copy of my pal’s disc. I’m sure Jay and Edward could use the ten cents they’ll see from my purchase, and so even though I have the music, the most important part of collecting for me, I will get the official release to assuage my guilt and buy Jay and Edward a cup of coffee.

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