By Tom Reardon, March 2019 Issue.
Weezer — Weezer (Teal Record)
Does the world really need a Weezer covers record? Having lived through the initial era of “Africa,” for example, when it was by Toto and played on the radio every five seconds was bad enough, but then Weezer comes along last summer and drops an almost note for note copy, and “Ugh,” here it is on the radio every goddamn five seconds again. Fuck you, Weezer, and the zebra you rode in on for putting “Africa” as the first track of your new stupid cover song record. Save your time and money and don’t buy or listen to this drivel. Putting out records is a time and resource consuming effort, and I have to say that the “Teal” record is a waste of both. I say this not because the songs are badly done, because they aren’t, or the band is not talented, because they are, but mainly because the world doesn’t need this record. We don’t need another version of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” or “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. Both are great songs, and it is mildly (in the kindest sense of the word) entertaining to hear Weezer do them, but honestly, after listening to this record I feel like I received a tongueless rim job.
The Dandy Warhols — Why You so Crazy
It wasn’t until the fourth track, “Be Alright” off The Dandy Warhols new record, Why You so Crazy, that I felt like I was listening to a Dandy’s record and this is not necessarily a bad thing. I think it was singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s vocal style where singing meets whispering that really keyed in the familiar sensations of the past. In some ways, this is where the record starts to take off, as well. Not that the opening tracks are not good listening, not at all. The fuzzy, Zia McCabe (keyboards/vocals) dominated song, “Highlife” which comes just before “Be Alright” is fun and bouncy in all the right places, but also a bit of an anomaly for this sort of eels-ish version of the longtime Portland band. All the requisite herky-jerky hipness that you may have come to expect from a Dandy Warhols’ record is here as well as a fair amount of, gasp, maturity, and growth. There is a country-fied elegance of “Sins Are Forgiven” that shows a sincerity that sometimes eludes Taylor-Taylor’s vocals which led to multiple listens of the song. Of course, when the band apes Jonathan Richman’s “Pablo Picasso” on “Small Town Girls” all that sincerity and maturity goes back into a box that is probably tucked away under the singer’s unmade bed.
Flotsam & Jetsam — The End of Chaos
Phoenix metal legends Flotsam & Jetsam are admittedly a bit of a departure from bands like The Dandy Warhols and Weezer, but on the local scene, these ‘80s holdovers have only one peer, Sacred Reich, and that says a lot for their staying power. The End of Chaos, their 13th-studio release, is not particularly boundary breaking in terms of style or substance, but new drummer Ken Mary (who, among others, played on four Alice Cooper records) displays some killer chops that propel this record to worthy heights. Guitarists Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley trade riffs throughout The End of Chaos that will undoubtedly inspire bouts of air guitar in smoky living rooms around the world. “Control” is a mosh-inducing monster of a song, and again, it’s Mary’s drums that take this song to a level F&J did not reach on their last studio record, which was an eponymous 2016 release. “Slowly Insane” and “Unwelcome Surprise” are two of the other standout tracks that will necessitate additional listens during 2019. Singer Erik AK (Knutson) still sounds just enough like Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson to make these songs sound a tad familiar, but overall, The End of Chaos is worthy of multiple spins, especially if you are into leather, long hair, and spikes.