The events surrounding the release of Maladroit have caused a lot of problems between Weezer and their label, Geffen Records (a subsidiary of Interscope Records, which is a subsidiary of Warner Music, which is a subsidiary of Warner Bros., which is a subsidiary of AOL-Time Warner). This situation perfectly captures the inherent conflict between the artistic drive of a band and the money hungry record label.

Since returning from their self-imposed hiatus in the year 2000, Weezer has maintained a very fan-friendly website (, with daily updates by Karl Koch. This site is run by the band, it’s not just a front for the record label. There is also an audio-video section where people can download the band’s videos and MP3’s. Throughout their 2001 tour the band was constantly writing and recording new songs and posting them on the website. Usually an average of about two new songs were posted every week. These recording sessions were paid entirely by Weezer out of their own pocket.

In January 2002 Weezer went into the studio to record Maladroit. The songs for the album were culled from the hundreds written during the 2000 and 2001 tours, most of these had already been posted on the site in one form or another. As the Maladroit sessions progressed, the 18 songs in the running to make the final cut for the album were posted online. A song was updated whenever something was tweaked or changed, giving the fans an inside listen to how a song evolved from it’s inception to a final product. Since any song that didn’t make the album was probably going to be used as a B-side on a single, Weezer was essentially giving away every piece of music that was going to be “officially” released this year. Note that these sessions were also band-funded, no Geffen money was involved.

Then, in late February, the band personally sent radio stations a preview CD featuring eight tracks off of the new album. The stations could play whatever songs they wanted, but “Dope Nose” quickly became a favorite. The song was getting airplay from L.A.’s KROQ, Chicago’s WZZN and WXRK in New York, so much so that it actually reached #25 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart without ever having been “officially” released. The songs were getting noticed and Weezer had completely circumvented their record company. This could not stand!

The do-it-yourself promotional campaign was not sitting well with executives at Interscope. The MP3 section on the website was quickly shut down. The label also insisted that Rivers Cuomo write a letter to all the radio stations that he had previously sent the Maladroit promo CD to, asking them to hold off promoting the tracks on the CD until the record company was ready to service the “Dope Nose” single. Later stating “I didn’t have a choice,” Rivers wrote the letter, but the songs continued to receive airplay and “Dope Nose” continued to move up the charts.

Geffen is now insisting that Rivers turn over the master tapes for the album, threatening to sue him for breach of contract if he does not. Even though Weezer paid for the album themselves, Geffen still owns the music under the terms of the band’s contract and California state law because it is considered a “work-for-hire”. The album was originally scheduled to be released on April 30, 2002, but now has been pushed back to May 14. Geffen stated that this was because “the album needed to be finished,” which is odd because the band posted “finished” versions of their songs online back in March.

I’ve had a week to digest Maladroit and I love it! It really attempts to strike a balance between the angst of Pinkerton and the fluff of Green. My favorite track has to be “Keep Fishin’”, a wonderful bouncy number. Why is “Slob” the next single and not this? I would give anything to be on stage and see the crowd do that little hop thing in time with the song. Another standout is “Possibilities,” the first Weezer song since “Surf Wax America” that makes me want to drive really fast.

As for changes in the songs since the label debacle, there have been a few. “Keep Fishin’” got a lot better by speeding the tempo and adding a loopy drum beat. “Take Control” was originally very minimalist, but the album version has a lot more guitar overdubs and Rivers’ voice is much raspier. Again, a change for the better. Most of the other changes seemed to be just studio clean up.

Overall a great album. It’s got everything: fast songs, slow songs, happy songs and sad songs. Go buy and listen.

Before you read this, please go read Weezer, and pay close attention to Chihuahua Grub's writeup on "the green album." Go.

Back? Okay. Now the first time through that record, I felt precisely the same way. Not a little betrayed. But I'm sure you noticed at the bottom CG says that he did not give the green album the repeated listening test. A fatal mistake.

On the third spin, the green album was revealed to me as an utter pop masterpiece. The melodies were so perfect and crystalline that I didn't mind the guitar solos copying them straight down. So much of my disappointment was rooted in wanting more of the raw confession of Pinkerton and getting tunes simplistic and generically applicable. But Rivers' songwriting talent is so unquenchably pure and bright that it always cuts through the pop-metal treacle of today's radio and demands you stand up and take notice.

Since the recording of the green album in summer 2000, Rivers has written somewhere around two hundred and sixty new songs. As determined by fan response at both live shows and from mp3 demos, Maladroit represents the cream of the crop. One might think that this type of song selection would result in a "greatest hits" style record with little cohesion or adventure, and one would be wrong. Despite what Webby says below, Maladroit is assured and confident, and ironically, uses that sureheadedness to explore uncertainty and ambiguity where the green album lacked the courage to.

Take Control and Slob rage but never reach that major chord that lets you know everything's okay. They're mature angsty songs, which makes sense when you consider the post-adolescent whinging of Pinkerton is six years behind us. Death and Destruction is the closest thing to a ballad since Butterfly, gentle and bittersweet.

Besides the obvious Kiss influence ("my favorite rock group", Rivers sang on his first record), you can hear more classic pop touches strewn throughout this. Keep Fishin' resembles a Beatles tune from 1964, only with distortion. Burndt Jamb sounds like a funky 70's TV show theme until the great lost Jimmy Page riff roars up out of the center. December lifts a chord progression from a thousand doo-wop staples, while Love Explosion blatantly steals the chorus of Do the Locomotion. All of this is done with such energy and efficiency it's hard not to grin.

There's a fresh creativity in Pat Wilson's drum lines. He seems to have recognized the inherent rythmic strength of Rivers' patterns; he can accent beats of his own choosing and both players still ring out strong. New bassist Scott Shriner has a few impressive fills, but these songs aren't meant to leave room for him to distinguish himself. River's guitar solos here absolutely blow away his work on the green album. He was clearly trying to impress us, and he succeeds.

Track list:
  1. American Gigolo
  2. Dope Nose
  3. Keep Fishin'
  4. Take Control
  5. Death and Destruction
  6. Slob
  7. Burndt Jamb
  8. Space Rock
  9. Slave
  10. Fall Together
  11. Possibilities
  12. Love Explosion
  13. December

Mal`a*droit" (?), a. [F. See Malice, and Adroit.]

Of a quality opposed to adroitness; clumsy; awkward; unskillful.

-- Mal"a*droit`ly, adv. -- Mal`a*droit"ness, n.


© Webster 1913.

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