Various Artists: Rock Music: A Tribute to Weezer

Robert Jamieson

Various Artists

Rock Music: a Tribute to Weezer

Label: Dead Droid
US Release Date: 2002-02-05

The possibility of a tribute album being a success is tenuous at best, and the few factors it hangs on determines whether it will sink or swim. Commercial success will always be based on the prominence of both covered artist and artist doing the covering. The recent soundtrack for the film I Am Sam is a perfect example of this: The best-known band in the world (The Beatles) covered by a selection of current, mostly well-known singers (Rufus Wainwright, Eddie Vedder, Sarah McLachlan, etc.). The other type of success is less tangible and is based on a slew of more subjective factors, such as: who is doing the covers, and do they do the originals justice; is the original material and artist being paid tribute worthy of said tribute in the first place. The only firm criteria for this kind "does it work?" success is whether the ones doing the covering can add to the original, shed light on why it is worthy material, and make it their own.

The value of worth being the factor most subjective in nature doesn't diminish the fact that Weezer may some day be a band that should be paid tribute to. But not yet. Having just released their fourth album, Maladroit, Weezer is still finding and defining its' own place in the annals of popular music. Having released their first two albums in 1994 and 1996, it wasn't until 2001 that saw the release of Weezer's third record, the hugely successful, self-titled "Green" album. It was during this lull that Dead Droid Records started putting together Rock Music: A Tribute to Weezer. Perhaps feeling that Weezer was no longer (as many believed), they felt it was time to pay tribute to them. Unfortunately for Dead Droid, Weezer resurrected itself and became a successful, viable band again.

Rock Music contains songs culled from the first two Weezer releases, plus a couple of more obscure songs. The groups paying tribute are not household names, though many may be recognizable to indie rock/pop-punk fans. This may be where the trouble begins. It's not that the groups here do bad job, in fact most do a great job of mimicking almost every moment of the original they are working with. Perhaps having bands cut form the same cloth as Weezer was not the way to approach this. Many end up sounding almost identical to the Weezer version, from note-perfect guitar work to tempo and sound.

The tribute starts out with "My Name is Jonas", the first track from Weezer's debut. Affinity does a good job recreating the instrumental track, particularly the clean guitar riffs, but their bombastic style of screaming vocals and pounding guitar and drums leaves little of the charm of the original recording intact. The same goes for "The Good Life" (from Pinkerton) by Impossibles. The quiet-then-loud style gets tiring in short order, as does the "I'm more ironic-sounding than you" attitude. This points to a flaw in even some of the better tracks. Most of Rivers Cuomo's lyrics are quite personal, and were performed by him with a lot of emotion. Even when they get the rest right, none of the bands seem to have any passion for the material at hand. The Holy Grail of these types of confessional lyrics is in "Say It Ain't So", possibly Weezer's best track to date. Further Than Forever starts this song out promisingly enough with the opening guitar riff of the original replaced by piano, and continues to perform a faithful rendition of the rest of the song. Singer Chris Carraba also carries off all the phrasing of Cuomo's singing as well, but cannot match the emotional impact.

Perhaps in a few more years, Weezer's legacy will become a clearer, and a tribute album might be warranted. Hopefully then it can be made by groups of a broader selection of musical styles. Rock Music: A Tribute to Weezer seems more like a showcase for a group of bands than a tribute to a band that has influenced them. There are some bright spots, such as Dashboard Confessional's reading of the rarity "Jamie", Grade's take on "Surf Wax America", and Midtown's revved-up version of the soundtrack tune "Susanne". But as so many of the groups did their best to emulate the band they were covering, little of their own style came through. They can't all sound like Weezer normally. This record would be mostly of interest to fans of the individual bands, not necessarily to fans of Weezer. They've already heard the original, so an imitation isn't necessary.





The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.