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Featured article: Return of the Rentals

The Rentals Return of The Rentals.jpg

Return of the Rentals is the debut album by The Rentals, released on October 24, 1995, through Maverick Records. In addition to band frontman Matt Sharp, the band lineup consisted of Weezer drummer Pat Wilson on drums, Cherielynn Westrich on vocals, Petra Haden on viola and vocals, Rod Cervera on guitar, and Tom Grimley on Moog synthesizer.

Songwriting for ROTR began as early as 1993. Sharp collaborated on a song with Rivers Cuomo titled "Mrs. Young" in May of that year with the initial idea of releasing it as a Weezer song. When this fell through, Sharp reworked it into "Please Let That Be You" and continued developing a number of other demos, including "Friends of P," "California," and "Stupid Girl." After the release of Weezer's first self titled release in 1994, Sharp gathered an informal group of friends to record some of his songs at Poop Alley Studios, without a clearly-defined goal of forming a band. Producer and studio owner Tom Grimley initially dubbed the project "That's Incredible!" This group recorded two distinct demo tapes at Poop Alley, one of which became Return of the Rentals and the other not materializing until 2005 as the demo compilation For the Ladies.

The synthesizer parts played on ROTR were a late addition in the production process. Cuomo claimed in 2002 that the heavy use of moogs on the record discouraged him from pursuing the Songs from the Black Hole project, which would have also incorporated sci-fi themes and synthesized instrumentation.

The music video for "Friends of P" received heavy airplay on MTV, considerably lifting the Rentals' profile before they had even solidified a steady lineup. It portrays the band in black-and-white in a vaguely Eastern-European setting, with the song's lyrics subtitled in Russian. According to Sharp, the idea for this elaborate backstory came from a desire to separate the project from Weezer, "mak[ing] it so we weren't even from this country and I didn't have anything to do with anything from America at all."

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Featured song: "Turning Up the Radio" Play on spotify.png

Death to false metal.png

"Turning Up the Radio" (formerly "80s Radio" or "Turn It" is the first song on Death to False Metal. Rivers Cuomo wrote the song in 2008 in collaboration with followers of his YouTube channel, leading to 17 distinct writing credits. Cuomo dubbed this YouTube project "Let's Write a Sawng."

Cuomo first uploaded a YouTube video titled "Let's Write a Sawng (Step 1 and Step 2)" on March 19, 2008, asking fans to help him write something "fun," "poppy," and "tough." Fans uploaded their own videos responding to a variety of prompts from Cuomo, collaboratively creating the song's title, chord progression, vocal melodies, and lyrics. Cuomo uploaded 16 total videos through the course of the project, from March until November.

A user by the name of Taylor Morden eventually became a central collaborator. Morden (whose username was "taylor2d2") received a producer credit on False Metal, in addition to recording guitar, background vocals, and synth that would appear on the song's official release. Morden was based in Portland, Oregon at the time, recording at Death Star Studios.

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On this day... February 25

Featured image

Karlophone Press Any Key insert inside.jpeg

Karl Koch in a photo from the liner notes of the debut Karlophone album, Press Any Key to Begin.
Photographer unknown
c. February 2002
See more from the Karl Koch gallery

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Featured quote - Music journalist Quinn Moreland, in response to a letter Rivers Cuomo wrote to fans ahead of the release of Pinkerton.

From "'Thank God for Girls': Tracking Weezer’s Brand of Nerd Misogyny", published November 7, 2015 in Jezebel.

What does it mean for an artist to ask his fans to forgive his misogyny preemptively? Does this acknowledgement excuse it? Perhaps initially, one may choose to listen to Cuomo’s instructions and view it as some sort of concept record, as Pinkerton was originally meant to be. But misogyny isn’t “conceptual”; it’s a very real problem, and Weezer has a big problem with it. As Jenny Zhang wrote in Rookie regarding her personal relationship to Pinkerton’s “Across the Sea,” “The only person present in these songs is the white man imagining all of it.”

-Quinn Moreland, Jezebel

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