In 1994, band releases self-titled debut album, on DGC, which unexpectedly but deservedly catapults them into the league of Big Time Rock Stars. The record combines intelligent, ironic, and often funny lyrics with killer guitar and melodic hooks, becoming an instant touchstone of the then-nascent "alternative" movement.
In 1995, completely freaked out by the mass attention and adulation, singer/ songwriter/guitarist/weirdo Rivers Cuomo steps out of the spotlight and enrolls in classes at Harvard, unbeknownst to his classmates, due to his new Grizzly Adams-like beard.
Band releases follow-up, Pinkerton (Geffen), in 1996, which eschews irony for heartfelt, lusty odes to teenage female Japanese fans and songs about being sick of shagging groupies. Far more introspective and mature--but also less fun--than its predecessor, the ambitious record surprisingly tanks. Bassist Matt Sharp leaves band, largely due to Cuomo taking firm control of creative reins. Cuomo, distraught that he had finally poured out his true heart to his fans, sinks into deep depression and seclusion when said fans abandon him.
For a few years, it seemed like that would be the end of our story, but a new chapter or two was yet to be written.
While Cuomo was off playing Mr. Mopey, fans new and old alike rediscovered Pinkerton's charms, this time in the name of all things "emo," and began saying so in magazines and on the Web. By 2000, band sees enough of a resurgence in its popularity to stick its big toe in the pool of the Vans Warped Tour, where it is given a hero's welcome.
Eager to give the fans what they want, band releases another self-titled album (now commonly known as "The Green Album") in May of last year. Album sells well and garners a couple hits, but falls short of fans' edge-of-seat expectations. Still, Weezer seems back for good this time, and as Meatloaf would say, two albums out of three ain't bad.
Which brings us to the present. Weezer is set to release its fourth album, Maladroit (Interscope), later this week. By all advance accounts, the disc is the promise-delivery that fans have been awaiting, and the lead-off single, "Dope Nose," already sounds better than anything from the previous album.
See? This story has a happy ending, after all, not least of which you just read an entire article on Weezer that didn't once use the word "nerd."
Weezer appears, along with AM Radio, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, at the Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheater. Advance tickets are available for $27.50 plus service charges at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000.
GOOD PAIR: Tucson roots music audiences should be well familiar with Kelly Hogan by now, as she seems to stop into our fair burg about once or twice a year. Over the two-albums-and-an-EP course of her solo career--she was also a member of The Jody Grind and the Rock*A*Teens--Hogan has wrapped her warm, sultry voice around tunes by the diverse likes of Smog, The Statler Brothers, Vic Chesnutt, Randy Newman, and Palace. But unlike most vocalists known for their interpretations of others' songs, Hogan's originals, which she sprinkles ever so sparingly on her records, hold their own even in such esteemed company.
This time around, Hogan brings Danielle Howle with her. The two share a common sensibility in that both trade equally in country, rock, and pop, without ever sounding insincere, though Howle's voice is a bit more straightforward, if no less affecting, than Hogan's.
Howle wrote or co-wrote all sixteen songs on her brand new CD, Skorborealis (Daemon), on which she is backed by her band, the Tantrums, to great effect. Highlights include the slinky, catchy pop of "Sneaky A.M.," the tongue-in-cheek, tear-in-her-beer country of "Karaoke" ("Karaoke brought us together/and now it's tearing us apart"), and the cock-rock of "Camaro Power," which sounds like L7 would have if they'd been around in the '70s. It's stylistically everywhere and there's not a clunker in the bunch.
Creosote's Jason Steed has been performing a slew of solo shows recently, and it's unclear at press time whether or not he'll have a band with him this time around. And while it's certainly nice to hear Steed's composition with full backing, it shouldn't really matter a whole lot, as Creosote's focus has always been on the song, anyway.
Kelly Hogan, Danielle Howle, and Creosote perform at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $5. For further details call 622-8848.
NOT FIRED UP: Not content to merely toss off a CD full of songs, the husband and wife team of Dr. Dan and Vickie Dubelman, collectively known as Betty Dylan, released their last album, American Trash (Daz Unlimited), along with a 75-page companion book. Their new album, Flame, was conceived as a companion to a screenplay of the same name, which is available at www.bettydylan.com, and while I can't attest to the quality of the written stuff, the audio version of Flame is, well, all over the map, both stylistically and in the quality control department.
The duo gets lumped into the alt-country category, but there's only the slightest trace of twang here. Instead, they make like a melodic beat generation reading on Dan's tunes, vocals half-spoken, half-sung, updated with bar-blues guitar riffing and rollicking piano instead of bongos and saxes. It works on a few tunes, but most of the time comes off as trying too hard, which in this context translates as pretentiousness, while Vickie's songs suggest the duo will never have to worry about outgrowing their bar band status.
Betty Dylan open for the always excellent roots rock of Teddy Morgan at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, at Plush, 340 E Sixth St. For more info call 798-1298.
FUN-K: And finally, get up for the downstroke as the man who put the "fun" into funk, the legendary George Clinton brings his P-Funk All-Stars to town this week. You already know all the words, so you might as well lace up the dancin' shoes and head out, 'cause Mr. C.'ll be doin' it to ya in ya earhole all night long.
George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars appear tonight, Thursday, May 9, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets, which were $28 in advance, will likely run a couple bucks more at the door. For more information call 798-3333.