Weezer, “Hurley” (Epitaph)
Spin and hyperbole are alive and well, especially in indie rock. As you’re reading about the latest Weezer record, you’ll see that the band is no longer recording for Geffen. According to the press materials, the band is returning to its indie rock roots with this album, out on Epitaph Records today.
The only thing “indie” about “Hurley” is its release platform. Epitaph is a small label when compared to Geffen. That said, the mediocre, half-formed songs on “Hurley” sound like the natural follow-up to last year’s “Raditude” — which is to say that frontman Rivers Cuomo and his band of merrymakers have continued to write lackluster high school anthems in favor of the odd quirk-pop hits that made them famous.
And note: I’m not one of those Weezer elitists who stopped caring after “Pinkerton.” The green album ruled, and “Maladroit” was a good time. Their downfall began with the mega-hit “Beverly Hills,” and the band hasn’t stopped sliding since — though their live shows still have the potential for brilliance, as we saw at last month’s Mile High Music Festival.
“Hurley” is at its best with the CD-closing folk-rock piece “Time Flies,” a thoughtful if simple jam that barely sounds like a Weezer track. “Smart Girls” fails to connect, even with the high school set. If only the new “Where’s My Sex” had the charm or coyness of their 1996 epic “I’m Tired of Sex.” “Trainwrecks” starts out solidly with a ’90s rock aesthetic, but the slacker anthem seems about 15 years too late. And “Memories” is one of the weakest album-opening tracks ever from Weezer, and the liner-notes admission that the “Jackass” crew played guitar (Chris Pontius) and sang back-ups (Johnny Knoxville, Wee-Man, Ryan Dunne, Steve-O and others) didn’t help the song’s credibility. — Ricardo Baca
Grinderman, “Grinderman 2,” Anti-
Nick Cave fans love the singer-songwriter for his unhinged music, his pervertedly anachronistic lyrics, his unkempt live shows. And while Grinderman is a very different project than his other outlet, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, all of Cave’s uniquely dirge-rock characteristics are present in Grinderman’s second effort.
“Grinderman 2″ is an album that is both violent and dirty, and that won’t come as a surprise to fans. What comes as an unexpected gift is this record’s ability to meld melody and pop sensibility with the digging-in-the-soil nature of Cave’s songwriting. There are moments during “When My Baby Comes” and “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man” that Grinderman sounds like a modern-day Nine Inch Nails — what with their ability to warp potentially offensive sounds into an accessible cacophony to be digested by the masses.
Granted you won’t find Grinderman on modern rock radio anytime soon, but if you’re a fringe fan who is interested in witnessing Cave’s magic, “Grinderman 2″ is a navigable entry point. — Ricardo Baca
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