Listening to Hari Kondabolu talk about Weezer’s Blue Album on WNYC’s Soundcheck woke up the absurdly awkward 13-year-old in me. In the summer of 1994 I was interested in only music and girls, with a far healthier relationship with the former. Weekends were spent at my grandmother’s grandmotherly home in a relatively sleepy New Jersey beach town. Saturdays I rode my BMX to the Sound Wave record store, handed over the entirety of my income ($3-$5 per hour, cash, from answering phones and stuffing bulletins at St. Monica’s, meaning an entire day’s work might get me one new CD), and pedaled back, teenage anticipation hanging from my handlebars in a plastic bag and jewel case. My grandmother didn’t have a stereo, so when I invested in the Blue Album on the basis of the Spike Jonze video for the Sweater Song, I had to listen to it in my parents’ minivan—shout out to the battery life in the Grand Caravan. I’d sit in the driver’s seat, crank the volume, and wish the liner notes were more thorough, since band thank-you lists were where I learned about other cool bands.
The Blue Album is so brilliantly engineered for an audience of teenage boys that subsequent albums (even Pinkerton) seem ham fisted by comparison, for which many fans (including Kondabolu) have never really forgiven Weezer or Rivers Cuomo. Pinkerton may be a great narrative album about being a genuinely weird dude coming to terms with rock-scale celebrity, and the rest of the Weezer catalog acceptable guitar-centered rock for an era where guitar-centered rock matters nearly not at all, but the Blue Album was about us. Cuomo yelped about girls, knitwear, and the sanctuary of fantasy and garages over quiet/loud shifts, barbershop backing vocals, and what I still consider unmatched and perfect guitar crunch. (Thanks to producer Ric Ocasek, Cars frontman and all-time champ in punching above your weight. You’re an inspiration, Ric.) Not all the imagery meshed for me—I didn’t care about KISS and only dabbled in D+D, and I’m still not sure if the bottle belongs to Steven or Stevens is a liquor with which I’m not familiar. But being conflicted about what you want from life and family and girls, how you want to appear to them, how you might actually appear to them, and how you can hide from dealing with all that in music and nerdery? That’s fucking gold for a kid looking forward to 8th grade with sweaty palms.
In the summers that followed, I’d buy a lot more CDs, favoring more obscure and consciously indie bands than Weezer, and I eventually talked to girls. But the Blue Album will always be playing on the dashboard stereo in the Grand Caravan of my heart.
any advice on sizing the needles rebuild jackets? i'm 5'8 140lbs and it seems like a small is too small?
I’m more on the L/XL side of the range but in my experience
-they run a little small, like the tighter Engineered Garments jackets.
-better to buy it a little big than a little small, because the components of the source garments (pocket flaps, seams) can affect fit, and getting a GQ-cover-perfect fit is never gonna happen with these jackets.
Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end, holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed.
Nobody can see what’s printed on the contract. It’s too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody’s eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there’s only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says, “Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim it again, please. Backstroke.”
And he does, of course.
”—Steve Albini, “The Problem with Music,” The Baffler, 1993.