Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Summer Jam 2008 Pt. 3 - A Sort of Off Topic Post About Weezer

Undeniably, summer jams are songs. Not to deny the existance of albums that function as long form summer musical entertainment, but it's rare that there is overlap between an album that functions well as a summer album and a song that qualifies as a true summer jam. You aren't gonna find me pumping an L.F.O. LP but that in no way detracts from the greatness of "Summer Girls". Paul's Boutique is an excellent summer driving record - I would venture that it is the best, but that's a discussion for another day - but if you take any one track from the album and try to sell it as a summer jam you won't have too much success.

Albums like Paul's Boutique don't come along all that often. While it's my contention that you can't have an American summer without a summer jam, you can certainly go from June to September without a new summer album. The classics are always there to prop you up if you feel the need to play an album all the way through for some reason, but the real crux of the matter is that you shouldn't feel that need. Summer is about the single and a summer album is a happy coincidence that's becoming more and more obsolete.

Still, in what was shaping up to be sort of a lame year for summer jams, I was holding out hope that we'd see a great summer album in 2008. There seemed to be at least a couple of releases that had potential to blow up in this manner. (The main other one I'm not mentioning in this post was R.E.M.'s Accelerate mainly because of the summery theme and awesomeness of the "Supernatural Superserious", even though it came out in like February.)

I generally think I'm pretty worldly, hard to fool. But Weezer still gets me every time. When the release date for The Red Album was set at June 3rd I honestly thought that this could be a great summer record. "Pork and Beans", even acknowledging its flaws, is a pretty great song, and, I think, the best single they've released since "Island In the Sun". (Which isn't to say "best song".) I'll admit that part of that statement is wishful thinking, because I really wanted to see Weezer be around for summer 2008. Sadly, there are only really 2 good songs on The Red Album, and they're both right at the beginning, which means there's really not much reason to listen to the whole album. In fact, the rest of the album is kind of terrible, and, to make matters worse, neither of the good songs, the aformentioned "Pork and Beans" and "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" function that well as summer jams.

I wouldn't say, though, that Weezer has let me down here. With the two songs mentioned above, they've proved more than they've proved since they came back from the dead on The Green Album, which proved only that they could still produce a record and get it released. Maladroit proved they could still produce a record with songs that didn't sound exactly alike, and Make Believe proved that the band was still very much a work in progress. What The Red Album proves is that the band is still weird, something that is more relavant in the wake of Rivers's demos comp Alone surfaced.

Some people have remarked about Weezer's seeming obsession with doing whatever they need to do to get at the heart of America's youth. Given Rivers's love for KISS and the fact that KISS's entire career was built on cultivating an image that would appeal a large teenage audience this isn't much of a stretch. What people forget, though, is that KISS were straight fucking businessmen from the beginning and that Rivers was one of the guys they were singing for - a weird, alienated, American male that needed desperately to feel like he was normal. (There's a part in Fargo Rock City that handles this aspect of KISS pretty well.) River's is weird, has always been weird, and, no matter how many times he writes the same song in pursuit of pop music perfection (which doesn't exist the way he thinks it does), he'll always be weird. On at least two songs, The Red Album proves that the weird side of Rivers, the side that has been responsible for 90% of Weezer's greatness throughout the years, is still alive and kicking. No summer jam, but so what.

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