Rolling Stone

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Rolling Stone is a United States-based magazine devoted to music, politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. The publication was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner (who is still editor and publisher) and music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It quickly rose to prominence to become considered the critical journal for modern pop music and what would come to be known as pop culture. Its popularity and relevance has ebbed and flowed over the decades, but Rolling Stone is still a giant in the periodical industry.

Rolling Stone and Weezer

The publication is particularly infamous within the Weezer fan community for its negative 1996 review of the Weezer album Pinkerton written by Rob O'Connor. The review is notable when discussing the critical reception that Pinkerton endured at the time.

Pinkerton went on to be named the second worst album of 1996 by readers of the magazine. The review in hindsight has been seen as the definitive review of the album during its release. It shows the overall dismissive reception the album endured, and is cited frequently in discussions that criticize Rolling Stone. Eventually, the magazine would see the error of its ways and revise its take on the album and give it five stars instead of the original three and place it in their hall of fame.

Weezer Deluxe Edition review

By Christian Hoard, April 19, 2004

By May 1994, when Weezer's Blue Album was released, they seemed destined for a short fifteen minutes of fame: They joked about Dungeons and Dragons, scored a hit with the grunge novelty "Undone - The Sweater Song" and were produced by ex-[The Cars|Cars]] frontman Ric Ocasek, not exactly a paragon of hair-flailing hipness.

Ten years on, as this double-disc reissue attests, these four thrift-store-clad guitar boys seem almost like visionaries. Crunchy nuggets such as "In the Garage" and "My Name Is Jonas" were fuzzed-out enough to blend in with other radio rock of the time, but Rivers Cuomo eschewed rock-star posing and relied on harmonies, big-ass choruses and tunes that attacked your inner lullaby. Whereas Nirvana launched thousands of imitators who cranked up the distortion and plunged into darkness, Cuomo blended white-guy self-consciousness and personal pain into big, vibrant pop-rock that would inspire thousands of emo kids. Songs such as "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here" and the excellent broken-family soundtrack "Say It Ain't So" were endearing rather than howlingly cathartic, showing he had clearly studied at the Brian Wilson School of Melancholia.

Disc Two is a solid collection of mid-Nineties miscellany. "Mykel and Carli" and "Susanne" are catchy B sides that could have fit in nicely on the Blue Album. Live versions of "My Name Is Jonas" and "Surf Wax America" rock more cleanly than most bootlegs from the era, but the real gems are the "kitchen tape" demos: stripped-down, home-recorded versions of "Only in Dreams," "The Sweater Song" and other tunes, proving that, underneath all the feedback, Cuomo was just a pop-minded bedroom poet with the Cobain blues.

Pinkerton review

By Rob O'Connor

Although no one in the band originally hails from Southern California, Weezer have got the sound and attitude of early-'60s Los Angeles down. Melodies bounce with vigor; in the lyrics, help is just a sunshiny day away. There is still plenty of Weezer's signature dorkiness on Pinkerton, the follow-up to their successful 1994 debut, Weezer. Guitars veer off key; tempos speed up for no apparent reason. But what you get is true to the sun-'n'-fun aesthetic of great jangly pop.

As a songwriter, the band's singer and guitarist, Rivers Cuomo, takes a juvenile tack on personal relationships. Throughout Pinkerton, he pines for all the girls he can't have, the girls he can have but shouldn't, the girls who are no good for him and the girls about whom he just isn't sure. "Across the Sea," which begins with a deliberately corny piano intro, is the tale of an 18-year-old girl from Japan who has captured Cuomo's heart by letter. "They don't make stationery like this where I'm from," sings Cuomo wistfully. In "Pink Triangle," Cuomo humorously describes desperately trying to wed a young woman who is a lesbian: "If everyone's a little queer/Why can't she be a little straight?"

Weezer over-rely on catchy tunes to heal all of Cuomo's wounds. In "El Scorcho," the song's infectious chorus proves to be slim reward. "Tired of Sex," a look at a brooding stud's empty sex life, is as aimless as the subject's nightly routine. But "Butterfly" is a real treat, a gentle acoustic number that recalls the vintage, heartbreaking beauty of Big Star. Cuomo's voice cracks as he unintentionally bludgeons the fragile creature in the lyric, suggesting that underneath the geeky teenager pose is an artist well on his way to maturity.

The Green Album review

By Rob Sheffield, May 14, 2001

Over the past few months, the most burning question in rock & roll has been: What the hell is up with Weezer? After their 1996 album, Pinkerton, a nifty little grunge-pop song cycle that nonetheless fizzled on the radio, it looked like Rivers Cuomo and his "Buddy Holly" boys had gotten their asses abandoned to the Buzz Bin of history. Except that unbeknownst to anyone over the age of twenty-five, Weezer not only kept hanging in there, they continued to hold a Rasputin-like grip on their fanatical, ever-increasing cult of emo kids and suburban punks, until their triumphant comeback tour last year shocked the music biz by selling out the big rooms from coast to coast. As the die-hard Weezer kids rose out of the woodwork to pump their fists and sing along with "Undone (The Sweater Song)," the only other sound you could hear was multiple jaw-floor collisions - and maybe also the sound of Sponge, Nada Surf and Better Than Ezra frantically paging their agents.

Weezer - a. k. a. The Green Album - proves that the band was smart to wait out the lean years. They actually took the time to make a totally crunk geek-punk record, buzzing through ten excellent tunes in less than half an hour with zero filler and enough psychosexual contortions to buy Cuomo's shrink another hot tub. Original bassist Matt Sharp has long since departed to make his own techno records with The Rentals, which certainly seemed like a good career move at the time; otherwise, Cuomo assembles the old lineup to bash out 1994-style crunch-guitar nuggets like "Don't Let Go," "Hash Pipe" and "Simple Pages." In the five years since Pinkerton, Cuomo has gotten more oblique about his girl troubles - there's no "El Scorcho" or "Pink Triangle" here, which is a shame. But with the surging final ballad, "O Girlfriend," taking that crucial millimeter of a step toward maturity, Weezer deserve a huge hand for making the world safe again for frayed cardigans and nerd glasses, not to mention paving the way for the now-inevitable Gin Blossoms reunion tour.

Maladroit review

By Ann Powers, May 9, 2002

By all logic, Weezer's musical pileups should end up in a drawer somewhere. Rivers Cuomo -- the maladjusted, misanthropic mind behind the band -- scribbles muddled diatribes about life and love's utter futility, and splatters the lyrics against a wall of classic-rock quotations. He then adds more disorder via vocal parts that suggest a crazed postal worker doing a Beatles tribute. But somehow, Cuomo turns the jumble into chart-topping cheddar. After a few career bumps, the nasty little fella has ascended to the throne previously held by improbables such as Joey Ramone, Elvis Costello and old Buddy Holly himself: He's this era's model of a most unlikely rock star.

What makes Weezer so appealing? Artistically, Cuomo is more of a mess than his predecessors; he doesn't possess Costello's meticulousness, Holly's modesty or Ramone's heart. But his distracted creativity is his strength in this age of severe information overload. Maladroit, the latest grouping of songs from Cuomo's manically prolific pen, follows barely a year after the band's long-awaited Green Album and signals the complete emergence of Cuomo the Song Machine, a man with a brain so full of music that he has to drain it regularly to stay alive. If words alone meant anything, Maladroit would be just another chapter in Cuomo's sorry tale of self-loathing and sexual alienation, intensified by a new preoccupation with the perplexities of fame. (This theme is all over pop culture now, and it's getting tired; lighten up, celebs!) But, like all things Weezer, Maladroit adds up to more.

The music's shift from trivial to memorable dominates Maladroit; this is Cuomo's attempt to make his voice and guitar move as quick as his mind. Cuomo finds the exact spot where rock & roll and his body connect: The leaps and hiccups in his voice, the jerkiness of his guitar lines (seconded by the very empathetic Brian Bell) and the strangely organic way these seemingly disjointed songs unfold wholly express how the electricity of rock can turn one nervous loser's frustrations into poetry.

This magic happens all over Maladroit and is more pronounced for the songs being rough around the edges. Like Weezer's other albums, this one shows the band just absolutely in love with rock and dedicated to upholding its form and spirit. Given that, it's embarrassing for the music industry that Maladroit 's birth has been fraught with controversy. It was self-financed, and its tracks were first released as downloads on the band's Web site and distributed for promotion to radio and the press; Weezer's label tried to shut all this freewheeling down to regain control of the distribution process. Major labels and the Internet have yet to amicably mix, and maybe Geffen's reaction was all about the downloading and not reflective of any displeasure with the album's content. Yet it's worth noting that like Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the other outstanding rock disc recently caught within the Santa Ana winds of the music industry, the supposedly difficult Maladroit is weird in the most palatable, respectful way possible.

Cuomo doesn't want to wreck rock or even push too hard against its boundaries -- the three-minute single is his favorite playground. Maladroit has a more disturbed edge than did the Green Album. Careening guitar solos stretch out the waistband on rockers such as "Fall Together," while the teakettle harmonies on "Space Rock" recall Weezer's forebears in hyperactivity, The Pixies. But these painfully romantic accounts of the post-collegiate struggle to make peace with society (and girls, society's stand-in throughout literature as well as pop) invite listeners in, in that patented Weezer way: by being relentlessly singable, even when the lyrics don't quite make sense, and tight as a drum, even when the band seems about to lose it.

Speaking of drums, Patrick Wilson is a monster behind the kit. Cuomo relies on his rhythm section, rounded out by new bassist Scott Shriner, to anchor Cuomo's melodic flights of fancy. The band's best trick on Maladroit is combining glam-rock riffs with doo-wop vocals -- "Keep Fishin'" starts with Bowie's "Jean Genie" shuffle, while "Take Control" nods at T. Rex's "Children of the Revolution." Wilson and Shriner maintain the tension as Cuomo's singing veers into woo-woo land.

Solid musicianship allows for quick leaps across genres: ersatz jazz, punk and Southern boogie compete for attention within Weezer's base of power pop. "Possibilities" is the closest the album comes to a genre exercise, an ideal version of Cali beach-town hardcore. That little purist moment seems slightly odd, given that most of Maladroit is classic Weezer -- that is, every kind of rock at once. Sometimes even Cuomo needs a rest, apparently. But despite the damage his mood swings might inflict on him personally, it's hard not to hope that this professional Ritalin kid never learns to sit still.

Make Believe review

By Rob Sheffield, May 25, 2009

Oh, the suspense of a new Weezer album. Is Rivers Cuomo still one messed-up little rock auteur? Will he write a batch of crunchy pop-punk gems, reporting from his tortured private world about the fun he imagines the rest of us are having? Will he ever find true love? On Make Believe, the answers are yes, yes, and wake the fuck up. Make Believe is a breakthrough for Weezer, a bold step into the world of the two-word album title, with twelve songs running 45:15, positively epic by their standards. But most important, Cuomo's songs are his most plaintive and brilliant since Pinkerton, with couplets such as "I may not be a perfect soul/But I can learn self-control" narrating the latest kinks of his journey into full-fledged humanhood. Not since Brian Wilson has an L.A.-pop mastermind gotten such musical mileage out of wanting to be an ordinary guy, not realizing that his psychosexual freakitude is exactly what makes him one.

Make Believe kicks off with "Beverly Hills," the single that revisits the dork narrator of old Weezer songs like "My Name Is Jonas," ten years older but no wiser, graduating from comic books and twelve-sided dice to watching the E! channel. It's a thunderous tune, with an awesomely terrible 1970s wah-wah solo that must have been sampled from Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. The sad love songs that follow -- "We Are All on Drugs," "Hold Me" -- build on self-loathing hooks ("I know that I can be the meanest person in the world") and huge pop flourishes. The best is "Pardon Me." It sure is weird to hear Cuomo go back to his old "Buddy Holly" voice, summoning up all his strength to belt, "I apologize to you/And to anyone else that I hurt too." Um, Rivers, is this a twelve-step thing? Nobody's mad at you, honest. In fact, after listening to Make Believe, we love you more than evs.

Red Album review

By Jody Rosen, Jun 12, 2008

What do Eddie Rabbitt, Slayer, Rick Astley, Terence Trent D'Arby and Rob Base have in common? Their hits are all shouted out in "Heart Songs," a ballad in which Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo pays loving homage to the chart-toppers of his youth. ("These are my heart songs/They never feel wrong," he coos.) Since 1994, Cuomo has been the reigning auteur-genius of power pop, but his musical fluency is wide-ranging, and on Weezer's sixth album he's determined to cram everything in. The album toggles maniacally between styles, climaxing with "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)," a satirical mini-epic that switches genres every eight bars, from hip-hop to mock-baroque choral music to Coldplay-esque falsetto balladeering.

Cuomo deploys this excess in the service of a time-honored theme: the midlife crisis. The nerd-boy angst that Weezer perfected with 1996's Pinkerton has spawned a whole generation of emo rockers, and Cuomo, closing in on 40, is clearly feeling his elder-statesmanship. ("I gotta be a big boy/I gotta pick up my toys," he sings in the barreling "Dreamin'.") He reminisces about his teenage high jinks, frets about the safety of his future children, and laments his expanding waistline and receding hairline. It's rich, often funny material, but in Cuomo's ambition to make a career-sweeping tour de force — telegraphed by the band's choice to return to estimable producer Rick Rubin — he badly overcooks the musical porridge, layering on overdubs, packing songs with key-change modulations and meandering instrumental codas, and generally refusing to hone and self-edit. Only the buoyant single "Pork and Beans," with its rousing singalong chorus and biting lines about hiring Timbaland to get back on the pop charts, has the rigor and punch of Weezer's best. It's the lone heart song in the bunch.

Raditude review

By Rob Sheffield, November 2, 2009
Do you think Rivers Cuomo ever gets tired of pissing people off? Check that album title again. The fact that he's willing to slap a title like Raditude on his work shows that when it comes to taunting and baiting the crowd, Cuomo makes every other rock star out there look like a dilettante. Ever since he attracted the obsessive Weezer cult with Pinkerton, he's inspired wildly hyperbolic reactions to his every move. So to a casual fan, each Weezer album sounds pretty great, and each Weezer album sounds exactly like the last one. But to a true Weezer cultist, each is a shameful betrayal of everything "El Scorcho" stood for. Which was what, exactly?

Raditude is full of gloriously cheesy Weezer tunes, led by the ridonk (sic) geek-love anthem "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To." He teams up with Jermaine Dupri and Lil Wayne for the hilarious "Can't Stop Partying," and he veers into dance-pop production with Dr. Luke for "I'm Your Daddy," wowing the ladies with his moonwalk moves and cheese fondue. His willingness to make fun of his psychosexual damage only makes it more poignant. The not-quite-ironic melancholy of "Can't Stop Partying" may reflect a uniquely twisted relationship with his twisted audience. But from the sound of Raditude, Cuomo savors every minute of it.

Ratings of Weezer albums

Rivers Cuomo albums

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