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Rivers Cuomo, "Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo" (Geffen) [3 STARS]

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Six months after releasing the sadly underrated "Red Album," prolific Weezer singer, songwriter and auteur Rivers Cuomo is giving us a second installment of his considerable archive of outtakes and demos, along with some heartfelt, soul-sharing liner notes that are as entertaining as the music.

A dedicated pop craftsman and ardent student of rock history, Cuomo is the rare artist whose discards can be more interesting than other band's singles, and the treasures here include a cover of Brian Wilson's "Don't Worry Baby" that seems to have been done partly as an academic exercise and partly for the sheer fun of it; "Can't Stop Partying," a tune co-written with Atlanta R&B producer Jermaine Dupri, of all the unlikely collaborators, and the coulda-been-Weezer-hits "The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World" and "Walt Disney."

You have to wonder if Cuomo bothered to play songs such as these for his bandmates, and if so, why they passed on them--especially in light of the fact that one of the biggest knocks on "The Red Album" is that the group's leader wasted valuable space by allowing each of his fellow musicians to record a song of their own. In any event, fans have them now, even if the fuzzy recording quality and a handful of tracks that sound more like sketches than songs keep this disc from ranking with Weezer at its best.

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Great review. I liked the first Alone, though not quite enough to revisit it yet - but I swear Pitchfork and the like have a hard-on for the lo-fi production. Some of the songs were better than the worst of the Red Album, but definitely none matched its highlights.

If the cover is anything to go by, Alone II should be great though...

tho blue and pinkerton were not as low-fi as these solo demo albums, they weren't nearly as produced as the subsequent weezer albums, so i feel i understand the attraction... to be completely honest, i think if we combine both the alone collections, we get about an album and a half of good old fashioned weezer music- i see how some may think that's a stretch- a song is a song, it does not matter to me how well it is produced, and in these songs i hear rivers laying his guts out in true weezer honesty (there is a lot of specificity in the lyrics and music (intricate chord progressions/solos etc.)) this is rivers at the top of his form, and i don't even think he realizes it (maybe he released these songs to satisfy the pinkerton fans?)

either way, i got exactly what i wanted and will no longer cut rivers to the quick- i hope there are plenty more alone/demo albums to come, and that perhaps this dispells any rumors that weezer has lost it


I dunno about "the Red Album" being underrated, Jim... The first half of it is pretty good, but it really gets waylaid by those awful contributions from the other members. I mean, there's no reason for them to exist; they're just bad. Imagine if they'd been replaced by something like "My Brain Is Working Overtime," which is worlds better than, say, "Automatic." Basically, I think Alone II is the proof we needed: Rivers needs to stick to being the auter for Weezer. The others may be decent musicians, but they're not what keeps us coming back for more.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on November 26, 2008 9:44 AM.

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