Weezer (The Red Album)
|Studio album by Weezer|
|Released||June 3, 2008|
|Recorded||April-October 2007 in Malibu, California; January-Feburary 2008 in Santa Monica, California|
|Producer(s)||Rick Rubin (2, 4, 5, 6 & 10)
Weezer (7, 8, 9)
Jacknife Lee (1, 3)
|Singles from Weezer|
Weezer, also known as "The Red Album," is the sixth studio album by Weezer. It is unique in that it had songs with lead vocals from not just longtime lead singer Rivers Cuomo, but also drummer Pat Wilson, guitarist Brian Bell and bassist Scott Shriner. It is available in both standard and deluxe editions. The album was originally scheduled for April 2008, but then was delayed to June 24. After it leaked, the date was changed to June 3.
Rumors of a breakup
Shortly after Weezer's 2005 Make Believe tour, Rivers Cuomo returned to Harvard to finish a degree in English. Pat Wilson, meanwhile, set out to work on The Special Goodness, having scrapped sessions he did a year earlier with Scott Shriner. Brian Bell started a brand new project called The Relationship. With all four members of Weezer off pursuing different projects, little was spoken of on the Weezer front.
In June of 2006, Rivers married Kyoko Ito and the two honeymooned in Japan. While in Japan, Rivers did an interview with MTV. The article was finally published and its selling point was that Weezer had broken up. Despite Rivers never saying "Weezer have broken up", he did say, "Really, for the moment, we are done. And I'm not certain we'll ever make a record again, unless it becomes really obvious to me that we need to do one." Rivers would later admit that he was peeved to have to do an interview on his honeymoon. Additionally, the interviewer was a rookie, and perhaps a bit gullible. Still, the damage was done, and well into 2008 many people were under the impression that Weezer had broken up. The band was quick to dismiss the breakup rumors on the band's official site, where webmaster Karl Koch posted a picture of Rivers, Brian and Scott sitting around the table.
Signs of activity
In April of 2007, Weezer fans were treated to their first bit of new material in nearly two years when the song "Pig" leaked as an acoustic home demo on music blogs. It is still entirely unknown how the song managed to get out, but Karl did post a link to the song briefly on Karl's Corner. It is unknown why the link was taken down hours later. The metadata for the track revealed it was the twelfth track from an album entitled Deliverance at Hand!. Nothing related to Deliverance at Hand! would be known for another year.
Around this time, a mysterious website entitled Albumsix popped up, with an image saying "Album 6" that redirected to the official website. At the time, Karl was rather unaware of Weezer happenings and truthfully reported that he had "no idea what this albumsix stuff is about". Also around the time, Rivers wrote a letter on the official website stating that recording for the new Weezer album would begin shortly. Eventually, Albumsix advertised a fake album called Tout Ensemble, which many major news outlets picked up on. Karl was forced to post a statement at the official site:
"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.)"
The Red Album marks many firsts in Weezer's career, mainly involving writing. In the first Alone booklet, Cuomo wrote in the commentary for "This Is the Way" that he had written a symphonic art minute song called "Daydreamer". This, along with comments of "darker" subject matter, and the previously leaked "Pig", hinted to a new Weezer sound. Most songs were penned by Rivers, but additional songs were written by Brian, Pat and Scott. Bell's song "Thought I Knew" was a reworked Relationship demo of his. Pat's "Automatic" was a song once considered to be a The Special Goodness tune before Rivers showed such enthusiasm for it that it was converted into a Weezer song. Scott's "Cold Dark World" was a bass riff he often played to warm up. The band was so enthusiastic about it that they helped him turn it into a full song. Rivers then wrote the lyrics. Additionally, Rivers himself was writing songs from a new standpoint. In an interview shortly before Red's release, Rivers stated that being married helped him feel more comfortable about his own writing. He began writing from different perspectives. Among these are included a pig (on "Pig"), a cocky guy (on "King", "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived") and a teenager; for the first time Rivers was incorporating several of his actual youth experiences into songs that were narrative without being girl related ("Troublemaker", "Everybody Get Dangerous"). Besides experimental lyrical content, Red's song structures are new firsts for Weezer. "Dreamin'" is the first Weezer song to be released since "Susanne" to begin with a chorus. "The Angel and the One", "Pig" and "The Spider" have no traditional verses, choruses or bridges. Rather, they are a stream of consciousness similar to writing styles by Jack Kerouac (by whom Rivers is influenced). "Miss Sweeney" contains a very different verse style from any Weezer song, which Rivers hinted at in interviews (he referred to it as "southern rap"). Also, "Miss Sweeney" was co-written with Sarah C. Kim (The band's personal assistant).
|THE WAR ROOM was a badly decorated room adorned with wall to wall mirrors probably normally used for some kind of dance class for bored Malibu house wives. It was stage left as they say in our business behind the MPAC auditorium stage where we recorded the self produced portion of The Red Album. The war room was literally backstage, another popular music biz term. We met there every day during the summer months of 07 around noon, give or take ten minutes for late stragglers. For some reason in this room we included a big screen TV with a couple of video game systems (yes, more than one of those stupid things) hooked to it and a pair of soccer goals at opposite ends of the rectangular box known as the war room. I once played my visiting nephew and whipped the little five year old 6 to 3, obviously I had the home field advantage. Most days Rivers was dressed like a high school gym teacher wearing knee length plaid shorts, white t-shirt and a maroon wind breaker, all that was missing was a whistle around his neck. One day I was late and thought he might have me doing wind sprints in the parking lot. Many songs during this self produced period were quite challenging and deviated from the norm. Butcher paper, masking tape and an arsenal of thick black permanent markers were sent out for. Some days I was assistant coach and helped Rivers tape the butcher paper over the mirrors, other days it was Scott. I can't say I remember Pat ever helping with that, but being the rad drummer he is I see no reason why he should. Many plans of attack were discussed for these challenging tunes and ideas were written in permanent ink. I think the song "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" used about 20 feet of butcher paper and we discussed how we were going to successfully record it almost as long as actually recording it.|
Such fond memories,
Weezer's new album sessions began shortly after Rick Rubin received a copy of Deliverance at Hand! in Spring 2007. The material was somewhat more experimental than anything Weezer had previously done. 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 Rubin overseeing production. Interestingly, Rubin was far less involved with the album than he was in Make Believe. It is uncertain if the band had a falling out, but the band did comment later that he "just sort of stopped showing" up to the sessions. Weezer went on to finish the production of the album themselves in a second recording studio. Finding themselves with an abundance of experimental (by Weezer standards) material, Geffen told Weezer that the album lagged and was too slow. This forced Weezer to enter into a third session in which two new songs were recorded with Jacknife Lee: "Troublemaker" and "Pork and Beans".
Dateline described the recording of Weezer's then unnamed album as "organic" and "like a musical farm." The comments, tied with "Pig", caused many fans to believe the album was a farm concept album. At the studio, a space entitled The War Room was setup, in which sheets of songs were posted. Each day, the band gathered in The War Room to write down comments and suggestions on the days takes for the songs.
Anticipation and early leak
Rivers posted on his official MySpace blog that the first single from the new album was a twelve letter word starting with T and ending with R. Fans quickly set out making lists of possible names. It was assumed the song was called "Troublemaker", although some speculated it was "Tranquilizer". Later, Rivers published on his MySpace blog that he was wrong about the first single, and that it would now be a song about a "four legged pink farm animal". He then said "you ain't gonna figure it out boy!!" Most fans assumed Rivers was referring to "Pig" and that his latter statement was a sarcastic comment that it was obviously "Pig". On the Albumsix forums, fans questioned Karl about "Pig"'s recording and Karl simply stated "I for one would be extremely surprised if "Pig" was the first single." He also stated, "I know Pig was recorded, but I'm not sure how far along it got..."
On April 1, 2008, Rolling Stone reported that the new Weezer album (then scheduled for April 22) was a self titled 'red' album, with the lead-off single called "Pork and Beans". Most people, if not everyone, assumed it was one of many April Fools Day pranks. Rolling Stone updated the article saying "...the Weezer news...that was real". Amazon.com updated their website with a thirty second sneak preview clip of "Pork and Beans" which began with a fade in of "... think that you lost your cool" and went through the chorus to "...the me inside." Reactions to the clip were almost unanimously positive from fans and boardies. On the Albumsix forums, user ohjonas asked his friend Soupandballoons to host a set of fake "Pork and Beans" lyrics on his website. Ohjonas then anonymously posted the lyrics in the chat, which were quickly posted onto the A6 ATW forums. Fans were split down the middle on the legitmacy of the lyrics with some stating that they were "obviously the work of Rivers Cuomo" and other stating "They're obviously fake. The 'goddamn' acts as bait." Later, ohjonas came forward, admitting he had made the fake lyrics. The next day, Los Angeles radio station KROQ played "Pork and Beans" back to back on the radio. Fans were quick to bootleg the recording, and within minutes, "Pork and Beans" was leaked. Karl then logged into the Albumsix chat boards to discuss the song with fans. Most (nearly all) of the boardies were very pleased with the song, specifically the vocal delivery, the heavy chorus, the dynamics, and the guitar tone. Albumsix creator lordofthemanor stated "We waited for this guitar tone for so long, and now they just did it? It's like, 'why were we waiting so long?'" The album's release date was then changed to June 18. On May 7, the new album's first eight tracks leaked. The last two tracks leaked on May 26 along with the cover of "The Weight". Finally the four bonus tracks leaked on May 31. Geffen quickly changed the album's release date to June 3.
Weezer (The Red Album) was released on June 3 in two available versions: standard and deluxe. The standard edition of Red contained ten tracks, and the inside jacket is simply a photograph of the band and their equipment. In this sense, it incorporates the environment of writing provided in the Blue Album jacket and the band in the recording studio as seen in the Pinkerton jacket; a sort of a throwback to the roots of Weezer.
The deluxe edition contained four bonus tracks that were completely recorded, but omitted from the final tracklist for reasons relating to preference of the band, Geffen, or both. The standard edition was a jewelcase with just a fold-out booklet (simlilar to The Blue Album); the deluxe edition was a digipak which also contained a full booklet with lyrics and band commentary.
As usual, international markets received additional exclusive bonus tracks, and all were cover songs, originally recorded by artists as diverse as The Band, Talk Talk, and Korean artist BoA. Late in the summer, after The Red Album had been released for some time, Japan issued a new version of the deluxe edition CD. In addition to the seventeen tracks that the Japanese version featured, it also contained bonus DVD, which contained the "Pork and Beans" video, footage from the December 2005 shows in Japan that were recorded for a DVD that was never released, and some promotional interviews.
The Red Album was released simultaneously on vinyl in the standard version, pressed in red wax, and available in both a standard and gatefold sleeve. A two-disc deluxe edition was pressed on 180 gram vinyl, and on September 3 2008, a video was posted on the official website showing the production line of the deluxe edition vinyl, set to the song "Dreamin'". The set was eventually released in April 2009 and confirmed on weezer.com (Karl's Corner - 04/06/2009). According to the website this pressing was limited to a little over 2000 copies.
The digital release of Red through iTunes featured the standard exclusive bonus track "It's Easy", and the pre-order exclusive "I Can Love", both of which are acoustic office Album 5 Demos dating back to 2003.
The Red Album was among the first batch of albums released in a new music format called "slotMusic" in late 2008.
To promote Red, the band began releasing Webisodes on their official YouTube page, as well as on the band's media page. Fans who pre-ordered the album through certain independant online outlets received a free exclusive promo "Pork and Beans" 7" containing the B-side "Are 'Friends' Electric?" (a Tubeway Army cover), a free Red Album poster, or a red stop sign sticker with the Flying =W=.
|Allmusic||(4.5/5)||Not listed||Stephen Thomas Erlewine|
|Blender||(2.5/5)||Not listed||Tim Grierson|
|IGN||(6.9/10)||June 3, 2008||"JR"|
|NME||(3.5/5)||June 5, 2008||James McMahon|
|Pitchfork Media||(4.7/10)||June 2, 2008||Marc Hogan|
|Los Angeles Times||(3/5)||June 3, 2008||Richard Cromelin|
|Hotpress||(8/10)||June 30, 2008||Paul Nolan|
|Billboard||(7/10)||Unlisted||Lavinia Jones Wright|
|Boston Globe||(7/10)||June 3, 2008||Joan Anderman|
Red received fairly mixed reviews by critics. It is also one of the more polarizing records in Weezer's career for both fans. Some fans consider Red a huge improvement from the three immediately preceding records, others consider it more enjoyable than Pinkerton, and some consider it Weezer's worst effort to date.
|"Pork and Beans" (Pitchfork)||Positive||April 17, 2008||Marc Hogan (Pitchfork Media)|
|"Love My Way" (Teenage Victory Songs)||Negative (The Very Worst)||May 13, 2010||Teenage Victory Songs|
In promotion of the album, Weezer toured with Tokyo Police Club and Angels and Airwaves in North America and played shows in Japan as well. The Relationship opened for three shows. Hootenannies were incorporated into the concerts for performances of "Beverly Hills" and "Island in the Sun".
The deluxe edition booklet was designed by Russell Robinson.
|2.||"The Greatest Man that Ever Lived" (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)||Cuomo||Cuomo/Brian Bell/Scott Shriner||5:52|
|3.||"Pork and Beans"||Cuomo||Cuomo||3:09|
|5.||"Everybody Get Dangerous"||Cuomo||Cuomo/Bell||4:03|
|7.||"Thought I Knew"||Bell||Bell||3:01|
|8.||"Cold Dark World"||Cuomo/Shriner||Shriner||3:51|
|10.||"The Angel and the One"||Cuomo||Cuomo||6:46|
|Deluxe edition bonus tracks|
|11.||"Miss Sweeney"||Cuomo/Sarah C. Kim||Cuomo||4:02|
iTunes bonus tracks
International bonus tracks
- "The Weight" (The Band cover) - lead vocals by Scott Shriner and Rivers Cuomo
- "Life's What You Make It" (Talk Talk cover) - lead vocals by Patrick Wilson (UK and Japanese version only)
- "Meri Kuri" (BoA cover) - lead vocals by Rivers Cuomo in Japanese. (Japanese version only)
Japan Deluxe Edition DVD Content
Shin-Kiba ★ライヴ・アット・STUDIO COAST - Weezer・Japan Tour 2005
- Dope Nose
- Why Bother?
- Surf Wax America
- The Good Life
- Island in the Sun
- Undone - The Sweater Song
- Behind the scenes ★ From Japan Tour
- 'Pork and Beans' PV
- Song by song commentary
Running time: about 64 minutes [video] [color] [Region ALL Screen size 4:3]  [linear PCM2ch stereo audio system Japanese subtitled (some places are also no subtitles), single-sided single-layer