Weezer (Red Album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||June 3, 2008|
|Singles from Weezer|
Weezer (commonly known as the Red Album) is the sixth studio album and third self-titled album by American rock band Weezer, released on June 3, 2008 by DGC and Interscope Records. Rick Rubin and Jacknife Lee both produced parts of the album, with the band producing a handful of tracks themselves. Like their 1994 debut, other band members contributed to songwriting. This is the first and, so far, the only Weezer album to feature lead vocals from all four band members. The album also features more musical experimentation in comparison to their previous efforts, especially shown in such songs as "Dreamin'", "The Angel and The One", and "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived".
Two commercial singles were released from the album—"Pork and Beans" and "Troublemaker"—both becoming relatively successful modern rock hits. The video for the former also became the most-watched video on the internet the weekend following its release. Additionally, an unconventional Hootenanny Tour replaced the traditional rock concert tour to promote the album. Despite this, it proved to be less successful than their previous album Make Believe.
After the platinum success of their fifth album Make Believe, the band once again was put on hiatus. Frontman Rivers Cuomo returned to Harvard University to complete his education. He ended up graduating Phi Beta Kappa. Cuomo also married Kyoko Ito on June 18, 2006, a woman he had known since March 1997. He proposed to her in Tokyo shortly before Christmas of 2005. The wedding was held at a secluded beach on Paradise Cove in Malibu and was attended by over a hundred people, including six of the seven members who played in Weezer (Mikey Welsh was not in attendance) as well as notables Justin Fisher, Kevin Ridel and Rick Rubin.
Meanwhile, members Patrick Wilson and Brian Bell appeared in the 2006 film Factory Girl playing John Cale and Lou Reed respectively and contributing a cover of the Velvet Underground song "Heroin" for the film. Also during this time, Bell formed a new side-band called The Relationship while Wilson started work on material for the next Special Goodness album. He also had a second child, Ian Patrick Wilson, with his wife in early 2008.
The band announced in June 2007 that recording sessions for the album would begin in July. In December 2007, Cuomo released Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, which featured home demos that Cuomo has recorded from 1992-2007. It was also during this time that a mysterious website called albumsix.com began gaining attention. The website gave false information about the album such as the album title would be "Tout Ensemble" (French for "All Together") and a fake release date. The website fooled several news outlets such as Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. The website was later revealed to be a hoax by some fans. Band historian/webmaster Karl Koch stated on Weezer's official website:
|“||Please note that Weezer and Geffen Records have no affiliation with www.albumsix.com. The new Weezer record is not called Tout Ensemble and there is no official release date yet for the album. Remember, when it's on Weezer.com, it's for sure. (Though I will say, 'well played', to the authors of that site.)||”|
At the beginning of the album's creation each Weezer member asked themselves what they wanted to get out of the album. With that in mind, they set out to record. Recording was done in three sessions. Half of the album was recorded during the spring of 2007 with Rick Rubin overseeing production. The second session, started in July and finished on October 18, was produced by Weezer themselves at Malibu. The third and final session of recording was done at the request of Geffen Records, who claimed that there was not enough commercial material on the album. This session was produced by Jacknife Lee and completed in March 2008. In the first podcast released on www.riverspodcast.com, Rivers mentioned playing drums on two songs on the album. In an interview with Pitchfork, Cuomo stated the album would contain "longer songs, non-traditional song forms, different people writing and singing, instrument switching, TR-808s, synths, Southern rap, and baroque counterpoint."
Writing and composition
The majority of the album's content was written by Rivers Cuomo. However, for the first time since their debut album other members of the band contributed songwriting as well. Cuomo consciously strived to write less traditionally-structured songs, breaking away from the "verse-chorus--verse-chorus-bridge" structure that was present on past albums. Much of the album's subject matter is rooted in past experiences and nostalgia.
"Troublemaker", which was considered for the first single, introduces the theme of nostalgia for the album, with Cuomo "reliving his lost youth". "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" is a track that includes piano, police sirens, rapped vocals and Cuomo singing in falsetto. Bass player Scott Shriner was particularly proud of the song saying, "The song 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived' is a masterpiece that includes ten different styles of music based around a common theme. It's awesome. That word gets abused a lot, like 'Wow, these pancakes are awesome,' but 'Greatest Man' is . . . awesome!" "Pork and Beans", the album's third track and first single, was written by Cuomo as a reaction to a meeting with Geffen where the band was told it needed to record more-commercial material.
"Heart Songs" is about all the artists and records that have influenced Cuomo from Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" when he was 5 years old to Nirvana's Nevermind in his early 20s. The song misidentifies the cover of "I Think We're Alone Now" as being by Debbie Gibson instead of Tiffany, an error that was brought to Cuomo's attention while recording. Cuomo opted to keep the error in due to his own memories and the personal nature of the song. Cuomo told Pitchfork that the song was partly inspired by the Mariah Carey song "We Belong Together". Cuomo's childhood friend Adam Orth commented on the autobiographical element of the lyrics for "Everybody Get Dangerous". "Dreamin'" was formerly known as "Daydreamer" and was described in the liner notes to Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo as an "epic, 6-minute, symphonic type of art song." "This is the Way", featured on Alone, was written as a more straightforward counterpart, and was originally selected by the band to be recorded for the Weezer album, but Cuomo persuaded the others to go with "Dreamin'" instead.
"Thought I Knew" was also the name of a song by Brian Bell's band The Relationship, and is a reworking and re-recording of the track with Weezer sung as a lead vocal by Brian Bell. The song was originally written in a minor key. However, Bell felt that historically the band's songs haven't worked in minor and that the song needed to feel more uplifting. So he changed the song from minor to major and sped up the tempo. "Cold Dark World" is a song that was written by Rivers Cuomo and Scott Shriner and features Shriner on lead vocals. Shriner commented, "...I wrote this kind of creepy music, and Rivers wrote these kind of happy, positive lyrics, but when you put it together, it made a super-creepy song which I'm really proud of." "Automatic" was written by Patrick Wilson and features him on lead vocals, saying that the song "is interesting. It's a big rock tune but it's kinda got a vibe to it and the lyrics are just about me wanting to give as much love as I can to my family..."
"The Angel and the One" serves as the album's closer. Some members of the band have claimed that this is their favorite track, including Pat Wilson. Cuomo stated that initially the song "started out as a really standard pop song called 'bad girl' and had a verse and a chorus and bridge and all that stuff. And I just wasn't satisfied with it. It was too normal. So one day I sat down with my acoustic guitar and I just played [this] song over and over, on basically looping it. My fingers hurt so much, I just kept playing it. And over the hour that I was playing it, the song slowly evolved and it smoothed over and the sections blurred into each other. And it turned into this spiritual reverie that is really just one long development without any distinction between sections."
The album's deluxe edition featured four bonus tracks. "Pig" leaked as a demo in early 2007, this song details the life of a pig including playing in the mud as a piglet, falling in love, getting married, raising children and eventually being slaughtered. The final version of the track appears on the deluxe edition of the Weezer album. "King" is the last song on the deluxe edition of the Weezer album and is sung by Scott Shriner. In the liner notes for the deluxe edition Scott says that the song was not being voted by the rest of the band but was one of his favorite tracks from the demos Rivers played for the band. One day Scott called up Rivers and demanded the band add the song on the album, Rivers responded by saying that if he [Scott] wanted the song so bad he should sing it, and so he did. The song apparently took the longest to record and perfect, taking three weeks.
The album's cover debuted on Spinner.com on April 21, 2008. It features the band members Brian Bell, Patrick Wilson, Rivers Cuomo and Scott Shriner in various outfits standing left to right in front of a red backdrop, and is in a manner similar to their debut and 2001 album. The cover was photographed by Sean Murphy. Pitchfork writer Amy Phillips compared the cover to the Village People saying, "Meet the new Village People: The Bartender, the Professor, the Cowboy, and the Biker." The cover received mixed reactions from fans wondering if the cover was a hoax. The cover was reconfirmed by the band's publicist Jim Merlis, "Yes, that's absolutely the cover. It's what they chose. They looked at a bunch of mockups, and that's the one they decided to go with. It's not a joke."
From a Buzznet.com interview with Scott Shriner:
|“||"The cover for the Red Album was kind of ... a happy accident," Shriner said. "We had a whole 'nother set of photographs that we wanted to be the cover and nothing that we were looking at ever matched up to what we felt that album sounded like and represents for us. Our art director got that photo [the official album cover], which originally was a fun photo. 'OK, everybody, go as your alter ego, and we'll take a kooky picture,' [he said.] He [the art director] put the red background behind that, and that's what felt like the strongest image that matched how we feel the album sounds."
Like the album cover, the album itself was very much a group effort. While many tend to assume that most Weezer material was scribed by Cuomo, Shriner insists that, "We all wrote music on the record. [Drummer] Pat [Wilson] and [guitarist] Brian [Bell] wrote songs, and we all sing lead vocals on songs and sing leads on different verses and choruses."
Release and promotion
On April 1, 2008, Rolling Stone reported that the album would once again be self-titled and become known as "The Red Album", with the first single being titled "Pork and Beans". The record was one of the first albums to be released on the new microSD slotMusic media format. In addition to the full album in a DRM-free MP3 format, the memory card also includes album art, liner notes, videos, and other features.
Several of the songs were featured in several media outlets. "Troublemaker" was featured in the trailer for Disney's comedy film G-Force. The album's fifth track, "Everybody Get Dangerous", was played briefly in the film 21, although it was later excluded from the official soundtrack release. "Automatic" was remixed by LA Riots for the video game Gran Turismo 5 Prologue.
The album was promoted with a tour throughout 2008 called the "Troublemaker Tour" with even a bonus track off the album "King" also being played live. This would be the last time the band would tour to promote a new release of theirs until the 2014 release of Everything Will Be Alright in the End.
|The A.V. Club||D|
|Los Angeles Times|||
The album received generally positive reviews, with a Metacritic score of 64, based on 32 reviews. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave the album a positive review of 4 and a half stars out of five calling the album, "A cheerfully restless record, one where all the parts don't fit and it's better because of it, as it has a wild, willing personality, suggesting that Weezer is comfortable as a band in a way they never quite have been before." The Boston Globe called the songs, "consistently vibrant, catchy, and well-built." IGN also gave the album a score of 6.9 out of ten, stating, "The Red Album is totally bizarre, a certifiable mess, and a hell of a lot of fun." NME complimented Cuomo's songwriting saying, "Musically, it’s a record that does much to further the claim for Cuomo’s songwriting greatness." Los Angeles Times gave it a score of three-and-a-half stars out of four and called it "a rush, starting with a sustained, four-song soliloquy on pop music's allure."
Among the negative reviews, Tiny Mix Tapes called the album "a sad portrait of a band that has been totally destroyed by fame and the pressures that come along with it," and The A.V. Club saying: "If the so-called 'Red Album' really is an elaborate goof on an all-too-forgiving fan base, that doesn't make Weezer's newest worst album any less insipid." Pitchfork gave the record 4.7/10, lamenting that "like the YouTube culture the 'Pork and Beans' video depicts so well, the song-- and this album-- relies on a high quantity of short-lived pretty good ideas to distract from a shortage of great ones." Prefix Magazine said that if the Red Album's "songs were formulaic, shiny, and easily digestible like everything on Green or Maladroit, the vacuity of the new songs wouldn't be as big a problem. But 'Heart Songs,' 'Thought I Knew'--these are just plain bad."
The Red Album debuted at the fourth spot of the Billboard 200, with 126,000 copies sold in its first week. As of August 2009, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the Red Album has sold 443,000 copies.
|2.||"The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)"||5:52|
|3.||"Pork and Beans"||3:09|
|5.||"Everybody Get Dangerous"||4:03|
|7.||"Thought I Knew"||Brian Bell||Bell||3:01|
|8.||"Cold Dark World"||3:51|
|10.||"The Angel and the One"||6:46|
|11.||"Miss Sweeney"||Cuomo, Sarah C. Kim||4:02|
|iTunes Bonus Tracks|
|16.||"I Can Love (pre-order only)"||3:49|
|Japan Deluxe Edition DVD|
|4.||"Surf Wax America"|
|5.||"The Good Life"|
|6.||"Island In The Sun"|
|7.||"Undone – The Sweater Song"|
|8.||"Behind the scenes From Japan Tour"|
|9.||"'Pork and Beans' MV"|
- Brian Bell – guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Thought I Knew", partial lead vocals on "Everybody Get Dangerous" and "Dreamin'"
- Rivers Cuomo – guitar, lead vocals (except where noted), backing vocals, drums on "Thought I Knew" and "Automatic"
- Scott Shriner – bass, keyboards, backing vocals, synthesizer, lead vocals on "Cold Dark World" and "King"
- Patrick Wilson – drums, keyboards, backing vocals, percussion, guitar on "Thought I Knew" and "Automatic", lead vocals on "Automatic"
- Rick Rubin – producer (in conjunction with Weezer) for tracks 2, 4-6 & 10
- Weezer – producer for tracks 7-9
- Jacknife Lee – producer for tracks 1 & 3
- Rich Costey – mixer
- Dave Collins - mastering
- Andrew Scheps – engineer
- Eric J – engineer
- Dana Nielsen – engineer
|U.S. Billboard 200||4|
|Australian Albums Chart||21|
|Austrian Albums Chart||39|
|Canadian Albums Chart||2|
|Irish Albums Chart||27|
|Japanese Albums Chart||9|
|Japanese International Chart||1|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||15|
|Norwegian Albums Chart||21|
|UK Albums Chart||21|
|United States, Canada||June 3, 2008|
|Japan||June 4, 2008|
|Australia, Germany||June 6, 2008|
|Worldwide||June 9, 2008|
|United Kingdom||June 16, 2008|
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