Thursday, June 05, 2008

New releases: Aimee Mann & Weezer

On Tuesday two of my favorite artists released CDs. It was going to be 3, which would've been great, but Juliana Hatfield postponed her CD until August.

I picked up Aimee Mann's Smilers and Weezer's Red albums. Neither one is named Smilers or Red, but you get the picture.
Anyway, I had heard of Aimee when she fronted Til Tuesday, but know much about her until her first solo release, Whatever, sometime in the 90s. I knew she'd recorded a song with Rush for their Hold Your Fire record way back in the mid 80s, but that was about it. Whatever was a very strong record. Lots of great pop hooks and melodies. I listened to that a lot in college.

Through the years, she released a handful more CDs and achieved moderate success. She never really broke out big, though she has had a Grammy nomination and most of her Bachelor No. 2 record featured as the soundtrack to the movie Magnolia. The past few years, she released Lost in Space and The Forgotten Arm. I really enjoyed both those records and I think TFA is her best work yet.

I'd heard Aimee's first track off of Smilers and I really liked it. It sounded like classic Aimee and I was excited for the rest of the record. When I got it and popped it in, well, I was a bit underwhelmed. I'd read somewhere that in recording Smilers, she backed away from using any electric guitars. Though it sounds like there are electrics on the CD, what I hear may be effected acoustics. The CD liner notes don't indicate that no electrics were used, but under the band members, the only kind of guitar mentioned is acoustic.

So what's all that mean? Well, the record is quite mellow. Keep in mind, I've only listened to it a few times, each time with distractions (work, kids, etc), and though I like some of it, nothing has really jumped out at me like, say, I Can't Help You Anymore, from TFA. We'll see how it grows on me.

Now, let's talk about Weezer.

When =W= first came out with the Blue album, I knew about it, but for some reason, I never got on the bandwagon. In fact, I didn't really get into them until maybe 3 or 4 years ago. Then, once I got my hands on the Blue and Green albums, I really got into them. Even the so-called stinkers, Maladroit and Pinkerton, to me, all had great songs. When Make Believe came out a year or so ago, I wasn't terribly impressed. I hated the Beverly Hills track. Is that the best they could come up with for a lead song?

With the latest release, the Red record, I'd not done a lot of research. I heard the first track, Pork & Beans, once on Youtube. I thought it was pretty good. Weird verse, killer classic Weezer chorus. Going into Tuesday, that was all I'd heard. I picked up the Red CD and took a listen.

I was really pleased with the first track, Troublemaker. It had the same type of feel as The Good Life from Pinkerton. Then the second track started, complete with sirens and weird stuff, and I wasn't sure what to think. It had its moments, but, for cryin' out loud, it was 6+ minutes. A Weezer song!

I continued listening and, sadly, wasn't too impressed. I'm hoping it will grow on me too, but right now, it's too early. There don't appear to be any great singalongs, like Don't Let Go (Green album), or super catchy tunes, like Dope Nose (Maladroit). As with Aimee's record, we'll see what happens.