Most bands toil and sweat to come up with an album's worth of songs. Weezer sounds as if it has the opposite problem--stopping the flood. "Maladroit" (in stores Tuesday) comes just a year after the L.A. band's last album, and its tuneful music flows out with uniform force. When it stops after 35 minutes, it's as if the band simply decided it was time to twist the shut-off valve.
There's none of the rise-and-fall complexity so many musicians use to make their records seem as important as novels, none of the clean, regimented sound that prevails in punk-derived pop. Leader Rivers Cuomo and company wallow in a pure sonic pleasure, slopping through their musical mud with an infectious exuberance.
"Maladroit" is packed with clarion chording, clouds of aural sparks, background-filling vocal refrains, spoken asides, and call-and-response exchanges. The band's production fills the space to near-capacity--it all seems about to explode into feedback, and even a thump on a certain drum pulls a squeal out of the air.
Trembling at the breaking point is where Cuomo loves to be. Weezer's central persona, he remains the iconic outsider, and the music serves that character well. But the emphasis in "Maladroit" (which is enhanced with live videos of seven songs) is the sound itself. At a time when even rock's alternative and underground heroes often record like fastidious fussbudgets, Weezer reminds us that it's OK to make a mess.
This Philadelphia native has the neo-soul formula down. His sophomore release recalls the laid-back-groove sensibility of Maxwell, blending the feel of classic R&B; with modern hip-hop and dance styles along with positive views of romance and self-reflection.
Musiq doesn't have quite the command of sprawling jams of, say, Raphael Saadiq, but such tracks as the jazz-flecked "Time" are carried by distinctive, almost out-of-phase percussion, while "Onenight" blossoms from folky starkness into a lavish, gospel-esque seduction number.
Still, it takes more than production tricks and a quirky approach to spelling to stand out in this genre, which is crowded with talented artists who adeptly manipulate the style without bringing much to the party. And they don't even have to bring much, as what this collection really has going for it is Musiq's ability to see women as more than unattainable objects of perfection.
Not that he doesn't lust after them (see the funky infatuation romp "Caughtup"). But he also convincingly expresses a love beyond the physical in "Dontchange," while the airy "Halfcrazy" charts his regrets over bedding a female pal and complicating the friendship.
True, his shout-out to Mom and Dad lays on the sincerity a bit thick. But when he offers a sad portrait of a battered woman friend in "Realove," without positioning himself as her potential savior, it makes "Juslisen" a thoughtful antidote to all the macho posturing out there.
"Wolfpac Records Presents
Still More Bounce--
A Tribute to Roger Troutman"
The late Roger Troutman is one of the most-sampled musicians in hip-hop. As a solo artist and the visionary behind the group Zapp, the musician injected a distinct brand of computerized funk into music, with his addictive clap tracks and signature talkbox (which gave his voice a digitized sound) standing as two of his groundbreaking trademarks.
Like the work of James Brown and George Clinton, Troutman's music has inspired and influenced a host of rap acts, including EPMD, the Jungle Brothers, Dr. Dre and 2Pac. Several other artists indebted to Troutman interpret some of his most famous selections on this high-powered collection (due Tuesday), On the title track, Ras Kass, Kam, Cypress Hill's B-Real and tha Liks' Tash pay homage to Troutman's legacy and give a 2002 face-lift to "More Bounce to the Ounce," possibly Zapp's most remarkable cut.
The brainchild of tha Liks' J-Ro, "Still More Bounce" shows how significant Troutman--who was fatally shot in 1999 by his brother Larry in a murder-suicide outside their recording studio in Dayton, Ohio--and his music were to the legion of hip-hop artists who breathe new life into his legacy with each song, whether it's Snoop Dogg and others on "Throw It Up" or Daz Dillinger and friends on "Party Started."
*** Big Tymers, "Hood Rich," Cash Money/Universal. These bling-bling kings lost some of their luster in the last few years as materialistic mashing was run into the ground by countless rap artists. On the New Orleans duo's fourth album, Cash Money co-owner Brian "Baby" Williams and producer-rapper Mannie Fresh shift gears lyrically and sonically. Their boasts are more fun and less biting but as appealing as ever, and Fresh replaces his signature bounce with a number of more sedate backdrops. "Rich" indeed. S.B.
**1/2 Various artists, "Spider-Man (Music From and Inspired By)," Columbia. Like the record-breaking movie, this soundtrack has its share of crowd-pleasing moments. But despite a lineup that includes Danny Elfman, Macy Gray (remixed by Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello), Slipknot's Corey Taylor and the Strokes, the collection isn't nearly as bold or complex as the comic book character it's supposed to represent --or as the diversity of the artists might suggest. Still, selections such as "Hero," which pairs Nickelback's Chad Kroeger and Saliva's Josey Scott, and Aerosmith's rendition of the classic "Spider-Man" theme hint at Spidey's mystique with a subtle touch.
***1/2 La Vela Puerca, "De Bichos y Flores," Surco/Universal. This exciting band from Uruguay is putting its tiny homeland on the map with its forceful mix of ska, reggae and punk, and its witty, penetrating Spanish lyrics. Produced by Gustavo Santaolalla and partly recorded in his L.A. studio, this is only the second album since the band's debut at a Montevideo street festival on Christmas Eve 1995. Although reminiscent of Argentina's Fabulosos Cadillacs, La Vela adds strikingly original forms, such as the intensely festive murga "Jose Sabia," an uplifting theme propelled by carnival drumming. Overall, an irresistible collection by a punchy band with a strange name.
**1/2 Deadsy, "Commencement," DreamWorks. People who think too much need rock too, and this debut (due Tuesday) from the L.A. quintet led by Elijah Blue Allman, a.k.a. P. Exeter Blue I, fits the bill. A horror-burlesque of '80s synth-rock, death-metal guitar, droning vocals and '70s prog-pop, "Commencement" is as theatrical as Slipknot, albeit in a prep-school/sci-fi/trust-fund-baby kind of way. Such muscular-yet-slick numbers as "The Key to Gramercy Park" and "Mansion World" are innovative and fun, but eventually a bombastic drone overwhelms.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.