Review: Rivers Cuomo

Rivers Cuomo
“Alone-The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo”

I remember it like yesterday, the year was 1994 and I was thirteen, riding in the back of the school bus. I had my headphones on, which were connected to a portable walkman tape-player, listening to FM radio. With the music playing, I would sit “school bus style” and stare out the window, hoping I could make it through another school day invisible to the bullies that hounded my every move. The bus had come to a stop, and a friend of mine jumped from his seat that was in front of me, his back to mine; he was smiling and holding a blue cassette case with the words Weezer on it. He motioned for me to pull my headphones off. I obliged. What followed would change my understanding of music for my so short life. I shoved the blue plastic into my walkman. My friend had the start positioned on “Undone (The Sweater Song).” I was blown away by the mix of dialogue, solemn vocals, and catchy chorus; it was something I had never heard before. At first I thought it was a funny song, but after pleading with my friend to borrow the tape, I listened to the whole album and came to confide in the words Rivers Cuomo was singing.

Now, thirteen years later, and four albums after that seminal release, my love for Weezer, and my fear of bullies, has stayed the same. I never was an obsessed fan, just a lover. I bought their albums and never looked for anything else, but with the release of “Alone – The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo” I am finally exposed to the behind-the-scenes music that I had never heard. The first six tracks are songs that were written and recorded before the “Blue Album.” They are demos and rough recordings that show the various styles that Weezer went through. A nice inclusion is the demo version of “Buddy Holly.” It sounds a lot like the album version, save for the slower tempo and a more prominent keyboard. Other songs written after the Blue Album, like “Longtime Sunshine” and “Wanda (You’re My Only Love)” showcase a more subdued style that was nice to hear and I hope to see more of. As the tracks progress, the song-style caught up with the present. Also, there are some nice cover songs and a great track that didn’t make it on to their last album.

Over all I enjoyed this album. It’s not the Rivers Cuomo solo album I thought it would be, but it was a nice way of doing a retrospective on Weezer, without the Greatest Hits album that is usually done. So if you are a fan like me and never dug deeper into Weezer, this album is a real joy to listen to and a nice reminder that, like myself, they to had to go through some growing pains before they really found themselves.
-Ben Dishun