Torch Online reviews: Alone – the home recordings of Rivers Cuomo

For the last 15 years, Weezer has been a decently big name amongst the alternative and power rock scene. Even more so, they’re huge in the geek circuit. But they’ve seen their fair share of trouble with front man Rivers Cuomo. Twice the band has taken a hiatus, once due to his return to Harvard University and another due to his own personal explorations. After their announcement of a new record due out by summer of 2008, Rivers Cuomo has released a collection of home recordings in Alone- The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. While a couple of the songs have been around for quite some time, the rest of the tracks make up one hell of a collection any Weezer fan is bound to love.

After 47 seconds of “ohh’s,” Cuomo eases listeners in with “The World We Love So Much.” Like many of the songs, there are emotionally charged, however, not in the “emo” sense. Weezer always managed to shy away from the highly ridiculed emo-type and this album being the essential roots of Weezer, there is a heavy familiar feeling.

Others that stick out with “World” are “Lover in the Snow” and “Wanda (You’re My Only Love).” “Wanda” is slow going but powerful and very well sung and gets you into the song. The accompanying harmonica works very well to set the mood of the song.

“Little Diane” is one of the most intriguing tracks on the album. The song constantly contradicts itself, with Cuomo stating how wild he is about her right before he belts out that he wants to slap Diane’s face.

Still, he will die without Diane. The slight absurdity of the song is what makes it so great and one of the best songs on the album. Its use of electric guitars rather than acoustic makes it all the more better.

As mentioned before, there are a few tracks Weezer fans will instantly know. The most obvious is their first smash hit, “Buddy Holly.” Instead of the joyous Happy Days sound it is known for, this version has a much grungier, underground feel to it. It is a bit odd at first but winds up being refreshing. “Longtime Sunshine” and “Blast Off!,” as well as two others, are also older tracks, both of which can be found on their unreleased album, Songs from the Black Hole. “Blast Off!” is relatively easy to find through fan sites, but it’s hard to find a decent copy of “Sunshine.” Now, you can get the closest crystal clear copy of “Sunshine” as you’re going to get, as well as solid copies of the other Black Hole songs.

Cuomo manages to successfully shy away from serious sounds with jovial snips here and there. In “Chess,” he goes off on seemingly random tangents about how hard it is to play chess and about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And we’d be damned if we didn’t agree with him, to certain extents, about traffic signals being confusing at times. Another great spot in the album is “I Wish You Had an Axe Guitar.” It is 36 seconds of one kid arguing to his friend that they need to look like KISS. It could be either Cuomo himself as a youngster or a reenactment. If one looks to “In the Garage” from the Blue Album, Cuomo talks about the Ace Frehley and Peter Criss poster he has. Perhaps it has something to do with the line “my favorite rock group KISS.”

As far as beats are concerned, there aren’t really any when it comes to rock music of this genre (it is more rhythm than anything), which is exactly why “This Is The Way” stands out so wonderfully. Weezer followers will know “This is Such a Pity” had an ’80s feel to it, but “Way” has a R&B sort of vibe going for it. It isn’t the best song on the album but may perk your ears when listening to it.

Some albums need to be listened to a few times before it really sinks it, but Alone manages to do so within two play throughs. There is plenty of emotion displayed in multiple ways; the way he plays, the lyrics, and so on. Recommended tracks are “Wanda (You’re My Only Love),” “Longtime Sunshine,” and “Superfriend.” What you’ll find with Alone is a terrific collection, so pick this up when you get the chance. Weezer fans will surely love this but even those who are simply into the genre will find this enjoyable.