photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
ever since discovering PREMIER GUITARS' HOOKED series I have been totally enamored with it. the series, mostly shot at home during the pandemic, follows prominent guitarists talking about the song that got them interested in GUITAR-BASED MUSIC as a kid. its a great concept as it lends itself to juxtaposing CLASSIC ARTISTS with MODERN PLAYERS that you normally wouldnt associate with one another (such as JADE PUGET of AFI and his DIRE STRAITS choice). just goes to prove that music in universal.
the series also inevitably makes one self-assess what their choice would have been given the opportunity to participate. in my case the most memorable childhood memory i have of being swept up by a guitar sound was ANDY SUMMERS echoing and reverb-drenched opening guitar riff in "WALKING ON THE MOON." likewise the song that made me want to pick up a guitar in first grade was R.E.M.'s "SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE," which ironically was a mandolin being played by PETER BUCK i believe. at the time he was apparently over guitars in general.
regardless, this is a great concept and such a gift for musicians and fans of GUITAR-BASED MUSIC. i look forward to watching more of them as they are published online.
photo & text by nacrowe
as a music fan i find it compelling to consider the extent to which i project my emotions and psychic energy into the art created by total strangers. maybe that is just the reciprocal nation of art in general. in my experience there is an inherent expectation or sense of trust in the artist to not let the listener down by being inauthentic or explicitly market driven. it is my opinion that WEEZER's second album PINKERTON (DGC, 1996) is one of those select few recordings which collapses that notion in on itself, since many ALTERNATIVE ROCK fans probably wish songwriter RIVERS CUOMO would have been a little more guarded with his lyrics at the time. listening to it today still feels a bit cringe-y and most definitely TMI.
considered by many to be a landmark album that was an inspiration for the EMO movement a decade later, PINKERTON is renowned for CUOMO's diatribes about his DISSATISFACTION with life, specifically the SEXUAL ISOLATION of being frontman for a successful band. himself an object of desire, in a strange inversion he projects his own obsessed sexual ideations on young letter-writing female fans in JAPAN in his lyrics. that interpersonal DISCONNECT and overall DISSATISFACTION with the ALIENATING NATURE OF FAME, in which one becomes a caricature of themselves and lose their IDENTITY to a PUBLIC PERSONA, is all over this record and at times CUOMO seems to be losing that battle for control. his honesty regarding his SEXUAL PREDILECTIONS is maybe a vehicle for reestablishing such IDENTITY from a rabid fanbase that feels they know him, but obviously dont. its a very interesting dynamic and a subject that comes up from time to time, mostly in concept records by the likes of prog-rockers like PINK FLOYD or GENESIS. but not INDIE ROCK bands with no artifice or concept shielding them from criticism. PINKERTON is bare and brutally honest in its execution, especially in songs like "ACROSS THE SEA," "PINK TRIANGLE," "TIRED OF SEX," "THE GOOD LIFE" and "EL SCORCHO." the fact that these songs are ultra-catchy (thanks in no small part to the back-up vocals of bassist MATT SHARP - his last with the group), only makes the vinegar with the sugar that much more potent.
i should mention that the title is a reference to the AMERICAN naval officer in the opera MADAME BUTTERFLY. the character of PINKERTON has a JAPANESE wife while stationed on the island and then promptly abandons her when recalled back home. the opera is about her extreme torment and ritual suicide after being shamed by the relationship and her pregnancy. its a very curious allusion for an album dealing with obsession, mainly because the plot of said opera is rather racist and anti-female. is CUOMO idealizing that level of loyalty from his fans or objects of affection? who is PINKERTON and who is MADAME BUTTERFLY in this scenario?
having lived in JAPAN, i will say that CUOMO was correct in his observation about half-JAPANESE girls being gorgeous. i only bring that up since there is a major cultural taboo about NATIONAL IDENTITY only being recognized in those who parents are both JAPANESE. those that are half something else are often culturally looked down upon and even harassed. its one aspect of their CULTURE i never understood since objectively women that were half JAPANESE and half KENYAN or TURKISH or FRENCH or CHILEAN where absolutely stunning. but such is their CULTURE that anything deviating from the norm is discarded and effectively shunned. case in point was a MISS JAPAN a few years back that was half BLACK, who was brutally harassed online.
i dont know if id recommend PINKERTON to the uninitiated. its a very idiosyncratic record that followed-up a universally praised modern ALTERNATIVE ROCK classic. it makes perfect sense that this record marked an end to his oversharing on record and marked the end of the beginning of their career that brought on a years-long sabbatical in which he re-enrolled in college and rediscovered himself. i support the dude and his efforts, but this record marks the end of WEEZER's time as a cutting-edge band. subsequent efforts seemed to be highly derivative of the sonic template of the first two records.
photo & text by nacrowe
it is often written about to the point of cliche that the success of NIRVANA's NEVERMIND (DGC, 1991) was a paradigm shift in the music industry, but the truth is in the bands that followed in their wake that arguably would never have had an opportunity from a major label pre-1991. specifically i am thinking about bands like GREEN DAY, THE OFFSPRING and especially WEEZER.
that is not to say that their eponymous debut WEEZER (DGC, 1994), widely known as THE BLUE ALBUM, had much to do with NIRVANA in sound or substance. NIRVANA frontman/songwriter KURT COBAIN came out of the parallel INDIE ROCK / HARDCORE scenes of the 1980s whereas WEEZER frontman/songwriter RIVERS CUOMO decidedly was more influenced by the concurrent NEW WAVE and METAL scenes of the same era. where i feel the two align is in a presentation of an alternative MASCULINITY that wasnt based on caveman-like caricatures of unbridled machismo that dominated the 1980s.
with that being said, WEEZER is an absolutely seminal ALTERNATIVE ROCK record. beyond hits such as "BUDDY HOLLY," "UNDONE (THE SWEATER SONG)" and "SAY IT AIN'T SO," which were all the soundtrack to my elementary school years in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, there are melodic, bittersweet paeans to all things summer, girls, social isolation and KISS. these include personal favorites like "IN THE GARAGE," "SURF WAX AMERICA" and "THE WORLD HAS TURNED AND LEFT ME HERE." to my ears this is a perfect record in that it combines a preternatural sense of MELODY with pop sensibilities and a lyrical stance that is as much about NOSTALGIA as it is about LONELINESS. whereas COBAIN takes this core sense of alienation and seemingly gets caught up in a vortex of self-flagellation, CUOMO takes that same intimate sense of self-loathing and turns it on its head. makes it something beautiful as it still conveys PAIN and SOCIAL ISOLATION.
part of that bubblegum sheen comes from producer RIC OCASEK (R.I.P.) of BOSTON NEW WAVE band THE CARS-fame who created a work that updated his signature style for a younger, more angsty generation. in my mind there is a definite through line between "BUDDY HOLLY" and classic CARS songs like "LET'S GO" or "DANGEROUS TYPE." both are just fun to listen to and dont feel dated in the least. i should also mention the vocal contributions of original bassist MATT SHARP and his incredible background harmonies which adds an almost BRIAN WILSON-esque depth on songs like "IN THE GARAGE" and "HOLIDAY." this element has long been missed since his departure years after the release of this album after the band's first break-up.
WEEZER is also an interesting record in how it compares to its much adored follow-up PINKERTON (DGC, 1996), which is decidedly more personal to the point of being uncomfortable and unhinged. WEEZER is the sound of a upstart band firing on all cylinders. it still sounds great and is basically required listening to anyone who is a fan of rock music of any era. unlike other subsequent records, this hasnt aged at all. it is absolutely still relevant.