Two truths about current Weezer

The past two years have been good to Weezer fans. Not only has the band released three albums (and counting), but lead singer Rivers Cuomo has shared thousands of his demos. As much as I could go on (and on and on) about Rivers’ demos, two thoughts that I’m convinced that are facts have been on my mind about the three Weezer albums we’ve gotten in the last 15 months:

  • Weezer is making some of their best music ever
  • For all those fans wanting a follow up to Pinkerton (or something like Weezer’s second album), the SZNZ project is that follow-up.

None of what I’m about to say should be construed as an attack on any other Weezer album. I love all of the band’s records, even the one that would be at the bottom of my list of albums (if I were to make such things). But there are quality differences between the albums.

Van Weezer, the second album to come out in 2021, was a solid effort featuring Weezer-brand power pop highlighted by some hair metal influences. The first 2021 album, OK Human, was a damn masterpiece. This was a bigger departure for Weezer, featuring a lot of orchestration. The songs were thematically deep and musically complex. And they sounded great.

SZNZ: Spring, which came out two months ago takes what OK Human started and continues it. The SZNZ project is pretty ambitious for Weezer: releasing four themed albums over the course of a year. This activity and the quality of the music makes it a great time to be a Weezer fan.

Twenty years ago, we were just a short time removed from a hiatus where it looked like Weezer may be finished. Weezer put out the Green Album and Maladroit, two albums that fared well commercially (well, at least Green did). But fans didn’t all get behind these two albums like they did Weezer’s first two. A lot of fans online were vocal about being let down by the band. Despite the whining of fans back then, it’s kind of funny to look back on. Because in the years since, we’ve gotten a number of albums, many of which have been proclaimed as the ‘best since Pinkerton,’ or a ‘return to form.’

The thing is (and yes, it’s easier to see now, but still); Weezer is going to do what Weezer wants to do. Or more accurately, Rivers is going to do what Rivers wants to do. Each of their albums sounds different. And that’s a good thing. Weezer can make many different types of music. And with the material they’ve released, there’s something that can make anybody happy. You just have to be okay with what doesn’t fit your taste and accept that other people do like it (a skill I hope the fans of 20 years ago have developed in this time).

These last three albums (although I’m focusing mostly on OK Human and Spring here) have contained some of the best music Weezer has ever made. These are songs that mean something. They sound great. They develop. They have structure. And yet they’re not airtight and devoid of life. Weezer fans are getting great music, and with three more SZNZ albums out this year, it looks like that’s only going to continue.

Speaking of SZNZ, it’s time I addressed something that I’m sure some will consider heresy: that it is the follow-up to Pinkerton that people have wanted.

When it came out in 1996, Pinkerton was groundbreaking. It’s this raw, emotional, rocking concept album with themes and operatic influences. Looking back on it today, it could be seen as a little too emotionally honest and chauvinistic, but it is where Rivers was at the time. People identified with Pinkerton. It meant something to them. Sure it’s natural that fans would have wanted more of the same. But we didn’t get a follow-up for a few reasons:

  1. It wasn’t commercially successful (at first); the reaction to it had Rivers questioning himself and exploring other musical directions (which is every artist’s right). Rivers immediately pursued impersonal, more structured, riff-based rock.
  2. Rivers realized (later) that to get to a place to write the type of material he did for Pinkerton, he would have had to experience pain. And no one should have to make themselves suffer for art.

Just because Rivers changed directions, does not mean the music he made after Pinkerton isn’t any good. He and Weezer have put out some incredible albums. And as a side note, some of the music he made in 1998, when he was working on the follow-up to Pinkerton, is great. Other albums contained parts of the Pinkerton formula. Make Believe and Red were a return to personal songwriting. Everything Will Be Alright in the End was kind of conceptual. But there was nothing that brought it all together until SZNZ.

SZNZ is a project with some major ideas behind it. Each Season has a theme. There are influences from classical music (the first track, Opening Night, contains a rock version of Vivaldi’s Spring) and religion. Lyrically, there’s a bending of time- the lyrics make pop culture references while being set in another time. The songs themselves contain the dynamic nature of the Pinkerton songs – there are random stops and starts and new sections. Or consider A Little Bit of Love, where the chorus changes each time. And like Pinkerton, SZNZ tells a story; the idea is about two angels who leave paradise to live with humankind. It’s an ambitious story, and so far, Rivers is pulling it off.

The one thing that SZNZ doesn’t have is the in-your-face personal nature Pinkerton had. But even then, the very first song is about Rivers’ love for Shakespeare. It might not be as emotionally honest, but that’s not a bad thing.

Weezer fans have it very good right now. We’re getting a lot of great music, both from the band and from Rivers. And those fans who wanted a follow up to Pinkerton are finally getting what they’ve wanted.

Tracking the Flood, part 19

451Wind In Our Sails
452Friend Of A Friend – v16 verse lyrics
453Hey Angel 008
454Why Won’t You Love Me – IV V verse
455The Waste Land – v5
45614 What is This I Find
457Movie Theater – 2
458I Can’t Find The Words    4
459QB Blitz   1 @100
460Untitled1 11
461Sunshine
462Codependent – v13
463Untitled14 1
464Nice Rolling Piano Riff
465Still In Love With You – v1
466Fits In The Blood
467We Are All We Have    5 verse melo @76 +1
468I Want To Be With You Girl  – A118
469Second Best Hugger In The World – v6
470i remember the day we used to sing along
47180’s Prom Night – v5
472The Good News Channel – v5
473Hippies – v8
474Our Day Will Come (Acoustic)
475clean 154 Ideas 1-11-2013 3h18m17s

Tracking the Flood, Part 18

42625 strums and melodies
427I_never_get_tired_of_you_2015_2_5_10
428Superfriend w/ AltB – SFTBH
429Let’s Go Surfing – I  bIII   VII   IV acoustic instrumental
430The British Are Coming – v40 Sons Of Liberty
431Valley Forge 065
432I vi IV V maybe on the piano
433Ideas 10-3-2013 15h40m31s 1
434Good Times   5 verses @102
435Collaborate
436Superstars    29
437Unknown Song F – 2012-12-13 sketch 1
438Bo Diddley
439Why Am I Getting So Upset – v6
440Awaken Early – v4 @118 90s dance
441Won’t Be Long
442O.G.s 007
443Bender   2 @79.mp3
44418 The Angel and the One 2
445Gaiser Riff    C15 Brit Hi-Gain W_Ph 2
446Take Your Life – v2
447ideas 10-24-2011 8h20m51s
448Binoculars    7
449Untitled1-20150821
450I Don’t Want To Let You Go TP-ALTmm5

deliverance at hand! – Early hints of Weezer’s Red

In 2007, not much was happening in the world of Weezer. The band was taking a break, with Rivers having finished college and getting married the year before. Some media articles from the time were prophesying doom for the band, but it was more of a case of the interviewers misreading Rivers’ focus on his new life.

There was talk that the band was going to hit the studio sometime that year. Then one day in April, a new song leaked on fan message boards. An acoustic demo featuring Rivers, Pig instantly generated excitement because of the subject matter and composition.

But even more exciting (and curious) was the MP3’s metadata. According to the tags, the Pig demo was part of a 17-track album called Deliverance at Hand! And yes, while it was exciting to know that there was a 17-track demo album, the exclamation point was part of the title.

A few years later, a scanned version of a DAH booklet hit fan sites, with a tracklist and lyrics. The Deliverance at Hand versions of My Day is Coming and I Don’t Wanna Let You Go appeared on Alone II. Some Full-band versions of some songs would be heard on 2008’s Weezer (the Red Album), 2009’s Raditude and 2010’s Death to False Metal. When Rivers started selling his demo bundles in his online store in 2020, the remaining tracks from Deliverance at Hand were finally available as part of the Red-Raditude-Hurley Years bundle.

Deliverance at Hand!

1Autopilot  
2Heart Songs  
3Here Comes the Girl  
4I Don’t Wanna Let You Go  
5King  
6Everybody Get Dangerous  
7Leader of the Pack  
8Miss Sweeney  
9My Bark Is Worse Than My Bite  
10My Day Is Coming  
11Piece of the Pie  
12Pig  
13Respect  
14Run Over by a Truck  
15Why Can’t You Shut Your Mouth?  
16The Odd Couple  
17These Things That You Do  
18The Angel and the One  

Overall, the songs are a mixed bag. Some are excellent. Others are okay. And there are a few that are not my thing.

The recording (and writing) is all Rivers. But because it’s a scaled back solo collection doesn’t mean that it’s a straight acoustic recording. Some songs have piano or organ in the back, as well as double-tracked vocals. It is a demo (and it does a really good job of establishing the feel of these songs), but you could tell that Rivers put some work into this collection. It definitely makes a good listen as its own album (which I’ve done with several of these demo collections in the bundles).

Cover, Deliverance at Hand Booklet

Standout songs include Here Comes the Girl, I Don’t Wanna Let You Go, King, Miss Sweeney, Piece of the Pie, Pig, Respect, Run Over By a Truck and The Angel and the One. The three that we don’t have Weezer versions of, HCTG, Piece of the Pie and Respect, would have made excellent additions to any Weezer album.

For the songs that did go on to have full-band versions, outside of instrumentation, these versions are lyrically and structurally similar to the attempts that made Weezer albums. Rivers knows what he’s doing.

Of course, this was put together and shared a while before Weezer began work on the Red album. That album has an excellent booklet detailing some of the song background and recording information (something that I wish Weezer did more frequently). This wasn’t the last demo collection Rivers would put together before Red (but that’s a story for another time).

It was exciting that spring day in 2007 to hear Pig for the first time. A new potential Weezer song – one that sounded great and had meaning (and I say that as a fan of Make Believe). I can only imagine how excited Rivers must have been putting this collection together. No wonder he gave the CD the titular exclamation mark.

Other Thoughts

  • For a while, Piece of the Pie had a reputation among fans as a holy grail. It’s a great song, no doubt. I don’t know that I’d have it up among his finest songs (and there are several from this era that I enjoy more), but it is a highlight.
  • As he was finishing out Harvard in 2005-2006, Rivers was still writing music. Many of those recordings are available in the Red-Rad-Hurley bundle. Despite the reports saying Weezer was done, or Rivers wasn’t interested in music, during that time he did talk up some of the songs that he was working on. One was about the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (My Day is Coming, on DaH). Another about songs that influenced him throughout his life (Heart Songs, on DaH). And the other one (and possibly most ambitious one) was an internal dialogue about whether he wanted to live on the East Coast or West Coast (East Coast or West Coast, not on DaH, but part of the EWBAITE bundle). ECWC sounded special, as he was going to have Brian sing the parts praising the East Coast and Scott sing the West Coast hype. And it came together very well. But not well enough for Weezer, apparently. The song eventually morphed into the (just as excellent) Up in the Clouds.
  • If you’d like to check out Deliverance at Hand!, it’s part of the Red-Raditude-Hurley Years bundle on Rivers’ website.

Tracking the Flood, part 16

375Sacrifice
376Mykel + Carli – Don Slacks
377Piano I With A 6 In It_ Great Soarin
378It’s Been So Long    4
379heart of hearts 3 @159
380I’ve Had It Up To Here – 2013-10-23 brief vocal sketch 1
381Fair Weather Friend – v7
382Empty Nest – v5
383Hippies – 2013-2-12 sketch 2
384Anonymous – v14
385work 2-21-2013 11h43m51s
386Prom Night   13
387Too Good For Me – v2
388Bless The Whole Wide World – v12
389This is Such a Pity – 2004-07-20
390Johnny Clash   3 weezered @ 185
391You’Re The Victim Of
392Bender   15 summer memories  @79 -1
393Untitled5 3
394The Waste Land – v2
395The Rules Of Life – v32
396@100_2015_2_20_16_1_45
397Any Way The Wind – 2
398c_minor_piano_2015_1_21_15_11_32
399Ideas 6-28-2013 13h36m27s
400Oh No This Is Not For Me – SFTBH

Tracking the Flood, Part 15

350Ideas 10-18-2013 12h55m12s
351Where Did Your Heart Go           6
35245 Yes It’s True
353Fair Weather Friend – v8
354Sweet Peepers – Monterey Jack
355Work 10-26-2012 14h10m45s
356Why Are We? – Monterey Jack
357Rest In Peace – v17
35814 Sweet Jane Song
35902 Heart Songs
36025 Clarinet Waltz
361My Day is Coming (2008 edit C3)
362Fake Smiles And Nervous Laughter – v6
363tense desperate piano 1
364Weekend Woman 7 resing @65
365Don’t Give It Up    3
36607 Baby Doll
367Lethe 2
368East Coast or West Coast – West VocMu 1
369I Hip – 2
370Work 3-23-2013 23h47m13s
371Codependent – v6
372Seven_Times_Nine
373I Want To Be Something
374There’s Good News And Bad News   2 @
375tense 3_4

Tracking the Flood, Part 14

326Rock Star
327St. George – v3 Additional Ch
328Nice Figuration Piano
329Alone In The Dark 3 edits
330I Can’t Forget the Way       2
331I Was Scared – Cbmix2
332The Life I Never Lived – 2005-06-26 clip
333Ideas 3-26-2013 20h30m1s
334She Has A Way With Words – v8
335Smaller Than Life – 2013-2-14 sketch 2
336The Rules Of Life – v7
337Untitled7
338My Place – 2013-10-28 acoustic sketch 2
339She’s Just A Girl – sketch
340Next Life Time
341Now Or Later
342Sweet Love      2 2
343Almost Beautiful   4 verse melo @ 109
344Do You Really Want Me Down? (flange gtr at end) – 2004-05-18
345Empty Inside – v6
346Space Rock
347I Wanna Be With You – 2004-02-02
348Santa Monica – v3 instrumental
349Anonymous – v12

Tracking the Flood, Part 13

301Paisley mixolydian C4
302I Don’t Wanna Bust My Heart – C.O.R. TXX-12
303I Did A Bad Thing
304Ideas 6-11-2013 10h1m39s
305El Presidente      5
306I Won’t Let You Down – v7
307Cleopatra – v11
308pantsu nugu
309the_center_of_the_universe
31002 Stupid Times
311I’m so happy I’m in santa monica
312Pachelbel Strum
313Tired Of Sex – Don Slacks
314Hulk   2 verse melody @ 120
315I V piano
316What I Want – 2013-7-28-13 sketch
317Cleopatra – v17
318The New Girl
319Bill Withers Jamb
320Work 11-17-2012 19h33m35s
321You And Me Together    2013
322Love Canopy – v2
323Cloudy day    391 
32414 I’m gonna sing a little pentatoni
325dictadroid5_2017_8_15_7_40_31

Tracking the Flood, Part 12

276Ever Again 2004-02-12 – 2004-02-13
277The Rules Of Life – v18
278You Could Take Me Anywhere   10
279I Want you To Notice me    2
280The Rules Of Life – v3
281Butterfly
282dictadroid6_2015_2_8_8_50_56
283Sing My Blues Away – v12
284Thanks To The Postman
285cyclone solo 20170412_1224
286Heavy Let It Be Piano Chords
287Anonymous – v11
288Funky Lil Line
289Happy Trails
290I Needed You Now
291soundcheck riffage
292Let’s Go To The 33rd Dimension – v 10
293Lydian Song – acoustic sketch
294The Spider
295Kind Support
296Friday Feeling   15 verse two @104
297My Folks
298Codependent – v12
299troublemaker melody shifted
300Sunday Morning Came (2)
30196._a12_2015_2_26_11_37_11

Tracking the Flood, Part 11

250Peace, Love, And Understanding – 2003 Demos
251Meet Up With Our Maker – v6
252I’m Just Being Honest – 2012-12-14 early piano sketch 3
253Trippin’ Down The Freeway. no voc
254Everyday The Lights
25511 is there anything left to say_
256Superfan     20
257Work 10-25-2013 12h47m38s
258Follow
259Running Man
260Always, Forever – 2004-02-20
26102 Till There Is Nothing Left
262@108_2015_3_3_10_42_9
263dictadroid9_2015_2_10_14_42_10
264Untitled7_2014_2_6_12_24_31
265Let’s Go to the 33rd Dimension – v8
266something’s missing
267Wagamama – v1
268Jodi
269Let’s Get Married INST NO BASS NO PE
27004 More Fuzzy Riffage
271Do You Really Want Me Down? (My Brain) – 2004-04-23
27243 Sing a Melody
273East Coast Or West Coast – v4 No
274Hippies – 2013-2-13 sketch 4
275Jungle – rough 0906 2