Too Many Songs in My Playlist

Eighteen years ago, I met Weezer lead singer Rivers Cuomo during a post-show meet and greet. I was on a message board with Rivers and he invited some of us from the board to hang out with him and the band after shows on the 2002 Enlightenment Tour.

Near the end of the meet and greet, a small group of us talked with Rivers for a while. One thing I remember to this day was him saying that he wanted to share all the songs he ever wrote and recorded with all of us. Rivers had already shared a few demos with the board and other fans. And in the years after that, Rivers released three Alone CDs featuring his home demos. Rivers liked interacting with fans (on his terms) and writing/sharing music with them. And while I was a huge fan of all three Alone CDs, I didn’t expect much more.

Last year, Rivers launched (or re-launched) his personal website, Rivers took a coding class (because that’s what rock stars do) and started the site with a chatroom, adding other functions over the summer.

Rivers Cuomo home page

And then in October, he started putting together the building blocks of his final project- an online store to sell a bunch of old demos. After going back and forth on what to sell and how, Rivers settled on bundles, based on time periods in his life. Buy a bundle and you get access to a dropbox folder. And inside those bundles was a lot of music, but not everything. Music with co-writers or co-performers was out. Rivers set songs and ideas intended for future projects. And some songs/files he just couldn’t find.

First row of bundles from

Since launching the store right before Thanksgiving, Rivers added three additional bundles, two with co-writers and a greatest hits sampler. And he’s also added a number of files that he’s found. Currently, the bundles include more than 100 hours of files.

I’ll be the first to say that the files are a mixed bag. There are some files that are Rivers with a guitar and handheld recorder. Or Rivers humming/beatboxing ideas for tunes. Or 30-second long sketches for songs. Or songs where you can tell something is there, but the quality is questionable. Or songs with upwards of 40 versions. But there are a bunch of good, quality, full band (or one-man band) songs. And some of these songs are right up there with Weezer’s greatest songs.

There are enough songs to make alternate albums. Or earlier ideas for Weezer albums. Or Weezer albums that we never got. I’ve been listening to these song and I’m not even close to being all the way through.

Having these songs has gotten me back into music. A specific kind of music, granted, but still. And it’s given me ideas of things to write. It might be fun to write something about the evolution of Make Believe. And I would love to update one of my most favorite articles I’ve ever written. But I’m not doing either just yet because there are still more songs out there that might be added.

And there’s something else that’s happened with all of this. Rivers hangs out in the chatroom regularly and has asked for fan help for a few different things, like cataloging these files. Considering how daunting the concept of 100 hours of files is, some of us suggested putting together a Greatest Hits style bundle. Another site visitor (or neighbor) had been working on compiling the best songs from each bundle (at least when they were first released) and I had been working on that with him. But as we were talking about this with Rivers, he was receptive to the idea. I don’t remember exactly what spurred it, but he asked if I wanted to rate the songs on the spreadsheet. Of course I said yes.

You see that King Tom Column right there?

A week or two later, Rivers started selling the Greatest Hits bundle, a combination of the other neighbor’s compilation and the songs that I rated at five stars. Gotta admit that was pretty cool.

So I’ve been keeping busy listening to a lot of these songs. On top of everything else I’m up to these days. I had an idea for something Twitter-related I may try, which will get the writing juices flowing.

After all these years, it’s great to have new (old) songs to get into all over again. And that’s not counting the Weezer album out (maybe) later this month. Or the other one coming out later this year. Or any of the other projects Rivers has planned.

Weezer! –The Musical

Word on the street is that the Harview Eastern Drama Club’s spring production will be Weezer!  –The Musical.  Here’s some footage from the auditions:

Some other footage from Rivers Cuomo’s Stereogum Sessions:

Rivers and a cast of people so famous I’ve never heard of them performing Can’t Stop Partying.

Rivers, accompanied by Here Comes Treble performing Don’t Worry Baby.

Rivers Cuomo: Alone Again

If there was ever an album that I’m predisposed to like, it would be Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo.

The second in a series (of hopefully many) of albums of [Weezer lead singer’s] Rivers Cuomo’s home solo demos gives listeners a chance to hear some of the songs that weren’t big radio hits (or necessarily tunes that made a Weezer album), but are instead some of Rivers’ favorite compositions.

This album is the Empire Strikes Back to Alone I’s A New Hope.  While Alone I was good and gave the fans a taste of songs they’d been waiting to hear, Alone II is deeper and more emotionally satisfying.  Alone II actually flows as a comprehensive album.  The only drawback to the album-not everything is epic or even great (similar to Alone I).  There are two song snippets that don’t stand up on their own.  And the three tracks representing Songs From The Black Hole are more exposition for the overall SFTBH story than songs that stand up on their own (with the possible exception of Come to My Pod).

Other than those five tracks, the rest of the album consists of songs that could have made any Weezer album, and a few that could be big radio hits.  They’re enjoyable songs with no embarassing boy band-style attempts at music like Alone I’s This Is the Way.  Some of the songs, like The Purification of Water, My Brain is Working Overtime and The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World have already been circulated in a live or inferior quality version amongst fans.  In those cases, it’s great to have those songs in an official version.

As a fan bordering on the obsessive, for me, the gem of the album is actually its liner notes.  I described last year’s liner notes as “detailed,” but Alone II’s liners put those to shame.  The booklet is a 28-page chronological journey through Rivers’ songwriting life.  He’s brutally honest with the places he was in during his lows, as well as how analytical he could be with his obsessive of writing the perfect song.  However, it sounds like he has regained his confidence and is in a better place.  Either way, I’m looking forward to any other writing projects he may have in his future.

As well as the musical ones.

They Say I Need Some Rogaine To Put In My Hair

Earlier this year, I didn’t think that there could ever be a better album cover than the then-released artwork for Weezer’s sixth album.  At the time, I said:

It’s far better for all future albums, CDs, tapes and eight-tracks to be released in brown paper wrapping than to try and compete with Weezer portraying the Village People.

For the most part, I still believe that. But (Weezer lead singer) Rivers Cuomo’s upcoming solo demo album (second in a series of what we at the kingdom hope is hundreds) has an equally great cover:

Two awesome album covers in one year. Not to mention a bunch of new songs.  Weezer fans are a lucky bunch.