Review: Weezer – OK Human

Weezer - Ok Human

Rivers Cuomo is a popstar. It’s an interesting revelation considering the Weezer frontman has spent the better half of the last 25 years chasing mainstream recognition (something the band has had since releasing their first single, “Undone – The Sweater Song” in 1994), but for as many times as he’s turned his band into a modern pop-rock experiment and apologized for it on the very next album, Cuomo continues to craft unbelievable earworms, whether he’s utilizing a team of co-writers and producers or simply his strat with the lightning strap.

To understand and accept this is to be a Weezer fan. Just as it’s been noted that the singular band has essentially split into two — one putting out weird records while the other puts out, well, Weezer records — fans can rarely know what to expect when they hear new music is coming, even when it’s been described to them beforehand. Put simply, we’ve been burned before, and we’re all ready to feel like clowns the day after a new single drops and it sounds closer to Twenty One Pilots than the band that wrote “Keep Fishin’.” Still, we have a reason to be excited; it seems that the plastic, filler-ridden mid-career crisis that plagued the band in the late 2000s is over. Since 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End, the band has (more or less) released consistent albums that, at the very least, keep Weezer fans guessing. While they still jet back and forth between pop-rock and expertly executed power-pop, there’s energy once again present that seemed to disappear somewhere around 2007’s self-titled red album. Weezer seem invested in the music they’re making (having averaged a new album each year since 2014), and more importantly, the records they’re making feel like Weezer records – even the weird ones. For my money, their latest is the closest the band has come to merging those two lanes; OK Human is a left-field masterpiece that comes dangerously close to reaching the heights of the band’s early career.

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Interview: Matt Nathanson Is the Most Nostalgic Guy in the Room

When Matt Nathanson started writing his new record, he had a vision. He wanted it to be political. He wanted it to be uplifting. He wanted to inspire his listeners to see a brighter future.

The songs that came out of him had other plans.

Sings His Sad Heart, the follow-up to Nathanson’s 2015 LP Show Me Your Fangs, is personal instead of political, sad instead of uplifting, and lost in thoughts about the past instead of looking forward to the future. It is a complete contradiction of the album that Nathanson wanted to make. And yet, it’s also the most at home he’s sounded on a record since 2010’s breezy Modern Love.

Then again, Nathanson has always been an artist defined by his contradictions. He’s a riotously funny and jovial live performer who makes crushingly sad records. He’s a guy who exudes confidence and charisma onstage but admits he isn’t very confident as an artist. And he’s a songwriter who’d name the happiest song on his record “Sadness.”

When I spoke to Nathanson in August, I called him “the most nostalgic guy in the room.” It’s a role I often find myself playing: the guy who digs through TimeHop every day and sends pictures and “remember this?” messages to old friends, or the guy who spends entirely too much time thinking about people he lost touch with, wondering if they ever think of him too.

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Review: Silverstein – REDUX II

Silverstein - Redux

It’s amazing how much a single year can throw a wrench into our plans. 2020 has made all of us re-focus our thoughts and priorities as we deal with a global pandemic that has forced us to make sacrifices along the way. Silverstein were poised and ready to tour on their recently released 10th studio album, A Beautiful Place to Drown when the world had other plans for the post-hardcore veterans. Having recently celebrated 20 years since their formation as band, Silverstein turned the unique situation into an opportunity to revisit some of their classic songs and deep cuts from past records for an album now known as REDUX II. The new recordings that made the cut for this record range from simple re-polishing of beloved songs that feel fresh for a new audience, to major enhancements to the song arrangement.

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Review: Foster the People – Torches

How does a struggling musician and former commercial jingle writer come up with one of the most popular songs in 2011? “Pumped Up Kicks” was literally everywhere that summer the single released to kick-start the insane popularity of Foster the People. From being played while getting your groceries to excessive modern rock radio airplay, there didn’t seem to be a single person out there not humming along to the chorus of the smash hit. The band formed two years prior to their debut album, Torches, and consisted of Mark Foster (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), lead guitarist Sean Cimino, keyboardist Isom Innis, and drummer Mark Pontius. What I thought the band’s strengths at the time of their debut was their ability to make every note, every hook, feel like you were part of something bigger than yourself. Foster the People found early success that most bands could only dream of, and this album went on to sell more than two million copies in the United States. The irony found here was that the business Mark Foster was trying to break away from (commercial jingles) would only add to his band’s marketability, and he’d hear his music in commercials nonetheless.

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Liner Notes (June 5th, 2021)

Giraffe

This week’s newsletter has thoughts on music released this week, some of the entertainment I consumed, and random thoughts on time tracking, flipping through Dan Ozzi’s new book Sellout, and a playlist of ten songs I loved. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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