Weezer (2001 album)
|Studio album by Weezer|
|Released||May 15, 2001|
|Recorded||December 2000, Cello Studios, Los Angeles, California|
|Genre||Alternative rock, power pop|
|Singles from Weezer|
Weezer, also known as "The Green Album" due to the lime-green cover, is the third studio album by American alternative rock band Weezer, released on May 15, 2001. Produced by Ric Ocasek, it was released on Geffen Records, as were its two predecessors. This is the first, and only Weezer album to feature bassist Mikey Welsh, who replaced long-time member Matt Sharp. The musical style of Weezer is grounded in the power pop genre, featuring strong melodies, crisp vocal harmonies, and prominent guitar riffs. It is also Weezer's quickest selling album.
Weezer received generally favourable reviews. The album is often recognized as a rebirth for the band after a long hiatus following their 1996 album, Pinkerton. The album attained chart success by debuting at number four in the US and number two in Canada. The album also charted within the top ten in Norway and Sweden. Since its release in 2001, the album has sold over 1,600,000 copies in the United States.
Three singles were released from the album including "Hash Pipe", "Island in the Sun", and "Photograph". The first single, "Hash Pipe", was a worldwide modern rock hit, charting on seven different charts, despite their record label's reluctance to release it as the first single.
Background and development
Following the commercial and critical failure of Pinkerton (1996), Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo placed the band on hiatus. He returned to Harvard University in an attempt to finish his studies, but eventually dropped out to focus on songwriting. During this time, Cuomo played with a different group of musicians in a band called Homie, which was based in Boston. One of the members of Homie was Mikey Welsh, a bass player who would eventually be asked to replace Matt Sharp in Weezer.
By February 1998, Cuomo had quietly disbanded Homie and headed to Los Angeles to begin work on Weezer demos with Brian Bell and Patrick Wilson. At this point, bassist Matt Sharp was absent from numerous Weezer rehearsals and was becoming estranged from the band. On April 8, 1998, Sharp announced his official exit from Weezer to devote all his energies to his band, The Rentals. It was quickly announced that former Homie member Welsh would take over on bass for Weezer. Frustration and creative disagreements led to a decline in rehearsals, and, in the latter half of 1998, drummer Patrick Wilson left for his home in Portland pending renewed productivity from Cuomo, who went into a period of admitted depression, during which he painted the walls of his home black and put "fiberglass insulation all over the windows and then black sheets of fiberglass so that no light could get through."
By the beginning of 1999, Weezer had once again gone their separate ways. Drummer Patrick Wilson resumed his efforts with his side-band The Special Goodness, guitarist Bell worked on his band Space Twins and Welsh toured with Juliana Hatfield. Meanwhile, Cuomo focused his energy on songwriting, crafting 121 songs, nearly half of which would become demos. During this time, he isolated himself and abstained from contact with the outside world. Cuomo also received braces on his teeth, further damaging his self-esteem. Bell would occasionally visit Cuomo and play songs with him. In turn, Cuomo would eventually reveal songs he was working on to Bell.
Unbeknownst to the band, their fanbase was connecting and growing on the internet, which was helping to boost the reputation and sales of Pinkerton. When it was released, Pinkerton was considered a critical and commercial failure; however, in the years following the release of the album, it would gain a much more positive reputation due to word-of-mouth on message boards and various web pages. This expanding internet activity would later set the stage for the band's 2001 comeback. Renewed interaction between band members took place when Weezer was offered an extremely lucrative offer to perform in Japan in August 2000 for the Summer Sonic Festival. Rehearsals for the show reinvigorated the band into talking about making a new album. The band returned to performing in June 2000, playing low-key shows around Los Angeles under the pseudonym Goat Punishment, ensuring that Weezer would only perform for longtime fans who would recognize the name.
Eventually, the band started performing at higher profile gigs such as the Warped Tour. Cuomo later remarked, "We went in there fully expecting to be booed and to have things thrown at us. But it was exactly the opposite, people were singing along to all the songs and just going crazy, giving us the best support. And I think that gave us the confidence we needed." The positive response to the Warped Tour performances led to further shows being scheduled. When touring began to wind down, MP3 demos captured live on the band's mobile unit and sound checks began to surface on file-sharing services and eventually for downloading on the band's official website. These songs were often referred to as Summer Songs of 2000 (commonly abbreviated as SS2K).
On October 23, Cuomo announced that the band would start recording material "with or without" a producer. However, the band's record label decided to have the band employ a record producer due to the commercial failure of their self-produced album Pinkerton. The band began rehearsing and arranging both the Summer Songs of 2000 and newer material Cuomo had written at his home with engineer Chad Bamford. The band eventually decided to hire Ric Ocasek—who had also produced their debut album—as producer, and began sending demos to Ocasek during the summer of 2000. There was much debate among the band members as to whether they should record in Los Angeles or Ocasek's New York home, with the band eventually deciding to record in Los Angeles at Cello Studios. The band continued to demo new music daily and started to weed through more than seventy-five demos, eventually homing in on twenty-five potential album tracks in anticipation of Ocasek's arrival. Ocasek worked with the band to trim these down further to eighteen songs.
Recording sessions for the album began in early December, with Ocasek providing creative feedback to the band by telephone. On December 27, the band embarked on what would be close to six weeks of studio work by playing songs repetitively in order to track the bass and drums parts. They also did "scratch takes" of the vocals and guitar, designed to get accurate rhythm tracks before being redone more efficiently later in the recording process. While recording the album, the band continued to perform gigs under the pseudonym Goat Punishment.
During the recording sessions, an executive at the band's label, Geffen Records, visited to observe the band's progress and expressed dissatisfaction with several tracks. This feedback eventually forced the band to discard a few of the album's possible songs. The band then relocated for three weeks to a smaller studio in another part of Cello Studios where Cuomo and Bell worked on guitar takes while the entire band recorded vocal tracks. Ocasek remarked, "Rivers always does his guitar parts in one take."
The art direction of the album was handled by Chris Bilheimer with photography from Marina Chavez and Karl Koch. The album cover was shot between band practices and featured Mikey Welsh, Rivers Cuomo, Brian Bell and Patrick Wilson standing left to right in front of a plain, lime-green backdrop in a manner similar to the band's debut album. This was done as a tribute to Ric Ocasek, who had also produced their first album, and also to symbolize the band's back-to-basics approach they took while recording the album. This approach is alluded to in a quote in the liner notes of the album: "Torniamo all'antico e sarà un progresso", from Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi that means "Let us return to old times and that will be progress."
The picture inside of the CD booklet is a photo of Weezer playing live, featuring (in the lower right hand corner) an overlay of the silhouettes of Mike Nelson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot from the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000. (Hence the liner note citation "MST3K silhouette appears courtesy of Best Brains, Inc.")
This was Weezer's first album to feature a transparent CD tray. Under the CD tray of the album, the word "No" can be found on the back of the spine. Some fans speculate that this is a response to the inside tray of Radiohead's album OK Computer which contains the text "I like you. I like you. You are a wonderful person. I'm full of enthusiasm. I'm going places. I'll be happy to help you. I am an important person, would you like to come home with me?" Weezer's official explanation was vague, with webmaster Karl Koch stating "No means no."
The album contains the dedication "In loving memory of Mykel and Carli." Mykel and Carli Allan were sisters devoted to developing fan clubs for up-and-coming bands. The sisters had been influential in starting and developing Weezer's official fan club in the 1990s and, along with their young sister Trysta, died in a car accident in 1997.
Release and promotion
The album was met with enthusiasm from the record label. "They had nothing but supportive and excited things to say about it," remarked Karl Koch. However, the album's original release date of April 17 was postponed due to executives not liking Cuomo's choice of "Hash Pipe" as the first single. Citing the song's lurid content about a transvestite prostitute as inappropriate, they suggested that "Don't Let Go" be chosen as the first single. However, Cuomo continued to fight and "Hash Pipe" eventually became the album's first single. The label again tried to postpone the release date further until June, but the band convinced them to adhere to the original May 15 release date.
The first single from the album was "Hash Pipe". The video for "Hash Pipe" was directed by Marcos Siega and was the first of many Weezer videos that Siega would direct. In the video, Weezer performs in an arena while a group of sumo wrestlers are fighting in the background. The song title was often censored as "H*** Pipe" (the title employed on the music video's title card) or "Half Pipe." The song became a huge hit on the MTV show Total Request Live, and also received heavy rotation on radio, eventually peaking at number two on the US Modern Rock Charts. The song even landed the band a nomination for High Times magazine's "Pot Song of the Year".
The next single, "Island in the Sun", was a successful radio hit and became one of the band's biggest oversea hits. It peaked at number 11 on the US Modern Rock Charts and at number 31 on the UK Top 40. Two music videos were created for the song: the first video, directed by Marcos Siega, shows Weezer playing the song at a Mexican couple's wedding reception and features all four band members. This version remains the more obscure of the two, receiving less airplay than the second. The executives at MTV disliked Siega's video, prompting the band to film a second video. This second version was directed by Spike Jonze and featured the band playing with various wild animals on a supposedly remote hill (although it was actually filmed a short distance outside of Los Angeles, possibly near Simi Valley). Only Brian Bell, Rivers Cuomo and Patrick Wilson appear in this video, as then bassist Mikey Welsh had left the band shortly before shooting. It is also rumored that original bassist Matt Sharp was approached to be in the video, though it is unclear if the offer was ever actually made. Scott Shriner, who was filling in for Welsh and would later become a permanent member of Weezer, stated in the commentary for "Video Capture Device" that he almost asked the band to let him appear in the video. The second video received much wider airplay than the original and has become the standard video for the song.
The third and final single from the album was "Photograph", which was released to radio in early November. The single peaked at number 17 on the US Modern Rock Charts. In Japan it was released as the first single instead of "Hash Pipe." The band felt the song didn't have the staying power of the previous singles, and thus decided to pass on a big-name director for the music video, opting instead to have Karl Koch shoot and edit a video from on-the-road footage.
|Drowned in Sound||9/10|
Weezer received generally favorable reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 73 out of 100. Allmusic senior writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine, who gave the album a rating of four and a half stars, stated that "this may seem like nothing special -- it's just punk-pop, delivered without much dynamic range but with a whole lot of hooks -- but nobody else does it this [sic] so well, no matter how many bands try." PopMatters' writer Jason Thompson also gave the album a positive review, praising the decision of the band to have Ric Ocasek produce them again: "The guitar solos ring out as joyful as the words. And even the songs' lengths are nice and compact. Weezer comes in, plays the song, and exits. No overkill makes for many moments where you want to hear these songs again and again. Perhaps having producer Ric Ocasek back on board was one of the best ideas the band had, as The Green Album is certainly water tight all around." Drowned in Sound gave the album a very positive review, saying "After creating the two greatest pop-rock records in existence it's time to add a third. One listen to The Green Album has you eating out of Rivers Cuomo's hand just like in the past. [...] Rivers Cuomo is one of the greatest song-writers that has picked up a guitar. Anyone who can with hold the charms of the Geek-rock quartet are obviously made of stone and complete assholes. Sorry to be blunt but it's the way it is. God I think the sun's finally taking it's toll." The album would later rank at number 3 in their list of the best albums of 2001, tying with System of a Down's Toxicity and Mogwai's Rock Action. Q listed Weezer as one of the best 50 albums of 2001.
Not all the reviews were complimentary. Spencer Owen in Pitchfork declared that "The new self-titled Weezer album, as it turns out, is average from beginning to end. In addition, Sarah Dempster from NME was disappointed with the album and said, "The most irritating aspect of The Green Album is, however, the maddening itch of wasted opportunity."
In the United States, Weezer debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 on the week of May 15, 2001. In two weeks the album had sold 215,000 copies. It was certified platinum on September 13, 2001. As of August 2009, the album has sold over 1,600,000 copies in the United States. In Canada, the album debuted at number two on the Canadian Albums Chart. In June 2001, the album was later certified platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for sales of 80,000 units.
The album debuted at number thirty-one on the UK Albums Chart. In Australia, the album peaked at number twenty-five. The album has since been certified two-times platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipment of 140,000 copies. Weezer also peaked in the Top Ten in Norway and Sweden, charting and eight and seven respectively.
|1.||"Don't Let Go"||2:59|
|4.||"Island in the Sun"||3:20|
UK and Japanese bonus tracks
Japanese bonus track
|12.||"The Christmas Song"||3:11|
Charts and certifications
|US Modern Rock
|2001||"Island in the Sun"||11||—||31||—|
|2001||Spin||United States||Best Albums of 2001||9|
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