Let’s get it out of the way, You Blew It! may have come up with the cleverest title of the year. Sure, the five members didn’t write the music on their latest EP, comprised of five Weezer songs from The Blue Album, but titling the release You Blue It was just downright witty.
Covers are a risky endeavor as they open up the musicians to direct comparisons. Even if the new rendition manages to sound smooth and natural, there will almost always be those who complain it failed to capture the essence of the original. A tracklist of all covers brings up other questions: Where’s the new material? Why not just listen to the original? You Blue It steps up to the challenge though and attempts to pay tribute to the original recordings while adding a unique spin on things.
You Blew It! have been heavily noted in the recent discussion of bands that are or are not part of the emo scene that is or is not experiencing a revival. It’s doubtful that the band really cares how someone describes their sound. Whatever that sound is, the Florida natives have brought it to the 90’s garage that gave birth to Weezer’s first album. While somehow maintaining a large part of the feel present on the original songs, You Blew It! have contributed their signature intersecting guitars and gently screamed vocals. The chugging guitars that populated The Blue Album are frequently replaced with swirling licks. Frontman Tanner Jones strains his throat a little more than Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo did, though noticeably less than in many You Blew It! tracks. But don’t worry, they’ve kept the harmonica.
For reasons we may never know, the group decided to reorder the tracklist, even though the opening and closing tracks are both present. The boys kick off with “In The Garage” and yes, we’re all nervous. By the first chorus, You Blew It! let us know we can relax, the precious past is in good hands. “My Name Is Jonas” follows, there’s no denying it, for some this is hopeless. Someone out there will refuse to except anything but the original Blue Album recording, but don’t be that someone. You Blew It! nail it on this one. The vocals are dying to be shared with sweaty youth packed into small venues, and the added weight of three guitarists is clear each time the wall of sound recurs. No one is trying to discredit Weezer, but respect the fellas’ in You Blew It! as well.
“My Name Is Jonas” feels like a warm-up for what’s to come. After delivering a solid play through of a classic, the group push the boundaries a little. “Only In Dreams” sees a lot of reworking and loses some fat, including the chorus, to cut off more than two and a half minutes from Weezer’s release. The song starts in a dreamy ballad state that allows the band to accomplish a larger build up than on the original. Besides….it used to be eight minutes long. “Surf Wax America” stays truer to the original, though still incorporating a fair amount of emo-esque traits. In the bridge section, You Blew It! give Weezer another run for their money with the beautifully layered vocal harmonies. The band makes a final step to differentiate their versions on the EP’s closer “Susanne,” originally a B-side to Weezer’s single “Undone – The Sweater Song.” Rather than give their modern alt-rock take on a 90’s alt-rock song, the group leave Jones to perform a solo acoustic version. This version sounds like a bonus track, largely due to the intimate guitar and raw vocals. The result feels like you’re listening to a private bedroom performance that is equally off-putting and pleasant.
Weezer’s Blue Album has become a classic. For indie and alternative rock fans, this album is up there. It would be easy to look at this in a negative way and reject it as a knockoff that will never be the same as the original and therefore never be worth anything really. There’s a lot of potential for this EP though, it holds value to music fans of varying generations. For the newest music listeners who have caught on to You Blew It! this is at worst another release from a great band, and at best an introduction to a world of music waiting to be discovered. For those who grew up on Weezer, this is a great chance to dig in to some newer music. For the lucky group who have been around for Weezer and You Blew It! this ties in to the past, present, and future. ‘You Blue It’ manages to walk the thin line between originality and origins with impressive grace. One has to wonder though, how does Weezer feel watching this display?