This is peak hipster nostalgia. Releasing the silly cover of “Africa” on vinyl was bad enough. But now we have this. Just look at the art: They’re wearing cringeworthy ‘80s fashion, like oh-em-gee! Is hipster irony chic a thing? It is now. As for the music, it’s almost entirely a frustrating failure. The band needlessly smears power pop riffage over the originals. Meanwhile, Cuomo’s wooden delivery suggests Teal exists purely because the Toto cover went viral; this is social obligation, not enjoyment. The lone exception is Bell’s vocal on “Paranoid,” the only part of this that’s fun.
Last summer, Spectrum Culture did a 100 Best Songs of the ’90s list. I wrote some entries, which you can find below.
Weezer | Weezer (white)
So-called return to form is more like a Weezer impression than an album by the actual band. Rivers’ ability to write earworms that stick after only one listen is still present, but one wonders why he didn’t do this for every song. Hire Ric Ocasek or don’t bother.
Read my review of it, also.
Deftones | Gore
A mixture of their most beautiful and most brutal music to date, Gore is Deftones solidifying their name as a consistenly great metal act. A truly interesting metal record is tough to come by these days, so appreciate them when they do arrive.
Sturgill Simpson | A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Country music’s best kept secret follows up a fantastic bluegrass record in the only way he can: he throws out the banjos and adds ’60s Mowtown brass and ’70s hard rock guitar. Simpson writes memorable melodies, but they’re not like the ear candy heard on country radio; these songs take a few listens to fully appreciate. No self-respecting producer woulda let Simpson stray this far from a winning formula like Metamodern Sounds, and for good reason. That Simpson self-produced this brilliant album just makes you appreciate him as an artist even more.
Aesop Rock | The Impossible Kid
Hip-hop’s wordiest MC releases his leanest and best record to date, a month before he turns 40. Rap is NOT a young man’s game anymore. (Was it ever?) All beats by Rock himself and not a single guest verse would be a gamble for a lesser artist. Being that Rock is among the most fascinating voices in music, that decision was a a logical one. Hopefully we don’t have to wait four years for a follow-up.
Hundred Word Review of this record is also available.
Drake | VIEWS
Lotta words have been written about this record, so I’ll simply say this: It’s not a bad album, but it is boring. His last two were better, so listen to those instead.
Weezer’s fourth self-titled record is their also their most uninteresting since Make Believe. With the exception of “California Girls” and “Jacked Up”, Weezer is largely unmemorable and sounds more like a Weezer impression than the band itself. Rivers’ ability to write peerless powerpop melodies is mostly absent, perhaps due to a lack of Ric Ocasek. Lyrically, awkward references and bizarre allusions replace quaint details and self-deprecation, making the face-palming even more painful. Creating pop music that sounds effortless is difficult; listening to pop music where the effort (and resulting failure) is patently obvious is even moreso.