What Is This I Find? Teenage Victory Songs track review

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"What Is This I Find?"
What Is This I Find? cover
Review by {{{Artist}}} by Soymilkrev
Album Alone III
Reviewer Teenage Victory Songs
Published November 4, 2015
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Alone III

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Songs from the Black Hole

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What Is This I Find?
Reviewer: Soymilkrev (Teenage Victory Songs)
Publishing date: November 4, 2015
Rating: Positive (The Grand Playlist)

The sad realization weighing down each line in this song – especially the opening, titular lyric – is something like how it felt to revisit this blog for the first time in five years. A lot has happened in my life since the last entry, and my interest in Weezer – both as music and as a subject of “analysis” – bottomed out long ago. Maybe shoving and shouting along to every word of The Blue Album and Pinkerton at their 2010 classic album performances in New York was the last thing I really needed from them. Maybe my tastes finally expanded to a point where four guys (roughly) making a rock band ruckus and plenty of mistakes no longer seemed compelling. It may sound odd coming from the guy who moved to South Korea to reckon with K-pop, but there are infinitely more culturally important, anthropologically meaningful, and musically substantive things to afford one’s time and attention – though I’ll prove my point soon enough. (Meanwhile…)

But for reasons best kept close to the vest, I’ve had sudden occasion to reckon with this little sliver of my past, too. So what was it I found, peering into a locker that – despite bearing my name all the while – I’ve been afraid to open for so long? More or less just what I feared: almost uniformly dreadful writing, and tens of thousands of words of it, all dedicated to an ultimately unimportant, frequently confounding, often rewarding and occasionally pathetic guitar band. Written with undeniable zeal and passion, no less, an incriminating record of juvenilia owed partially to those forgivable teenage years, but plenty of which spilled into the more damningly adult days that are one’s early twenties.

My overwhelming impulse was to burn everything and hope archive.org could keep a secret. But I found something else here, too: more than a handful of comments pending approval, from people for whom this silly endeavor seemed to mean some small, wistful something. One keen reader even pleaded, apropos of nothing, that this site never be deleted. It doesn’t take much for me to catch a feeling. It doesn’t take me much to rationalize past mistakes, or try to anticipate new ones: all this bad writing was certainly work, and maybe it’d be even worse to discard what must add up to entire days – lord willing, not weeks – of my young life. Here was something, in my modest and own pathetic way, I had in common with Cuomo: a piece of my own back catalog that now seemed deeply embarrassing, even regrettable, but had brought some measure of personal value to those who once enjoyed it, and those fewer who may still. The difference being his regret was a masterpiece that had a massive impact on individual lives and collective culture, whereas mine was a dumb website that only others changed by Cuomo’s work could deign to appreciate. But it felt interesting to know how this misguided project inspired by him brought me a little closer to understanding how some of his own work once famously made him feel.

The idea of returning, in some way, with this new meta-level meaning added to the whole thing – of someone no longer so moved by his youth’s fascination forcing himself to engage with that deeper personal truth, while trying to finish the task at hand – is perhaps the very justification I needed. Or perhaps it’s just my OCD talking, the same that now motivates me to swallow Korean music and history whole, or file every song I ever hear into massive, thousands-deep playlists for future reference. Perhaps it doesn’t hurt that just as I’ve been mulling this decision, Weezer’s begun releasing their first remarkable music in years.

So we’ll see how this thing goes. I aim to get a new tune up every once in a blue moon, slowly and surely. Maybe my new conceit is thinner than I think, and I’ll delete the whole sucker after all. The fact that I’m already back to the overlong, melodramatic musings of old might not bode so hot. But for now I see neither harm nor foul – I could listen to Bacharach and stop at any point.


Of course, the “What” Cuomo’s found in this tune isn’t a shitty blog, or that which he’d come to regret – the date on the tin precludes either possibility. A home demo recorded in early 1995, in Hamburg, Germany, this somber, acoustic fragment belongs to the unfinished Songs From the Black Hole rock opera that stayed under lock and key until the 2011 compilation release of Alone III: The Pinkerton Years. This is a part of the last act (the second draft tracklist had it as the improbable closer), in which Cuomo’s character Jonas discovers an “extra huge,” used (yuck) condom beneath the “behind” of his interstellar crewmate Maria. His former admirer (also sung by Cuomo in this early sketch) responds to his inquiry with the admission that she “waited for him” until she couldn’t take it, ultimately going for Jonas’ well-endowed, hard-partying frenemy Dondo (a role written to be played, of course, by Matt Sharp). Maria’s section features a lovely bit of counterpoint from Jonas, in the style of an operatic aria, which seems to confirm his characteristic selfishness, thinking/talking past her as she opens her heart to him, like usual. It’s a short idea, a bit ridiculous even by the standards of what was destined to be a pretty ridiculous album – but it’s musically effective, a 74-second testament to the young Cuomo’s technical skill and tuneful instincts.

Drummer Pat Wilson allegedly tried to convince Cuomo to complete the Black Hole project circa 2004, a time of great possibility – it was around then, too, that Sharp and Cuomo reunited for one legendary performance of songs new and old at a California State cafe. But things fizzled fast, and soon enough, there was Make Believe. Maybe some dumb young dreams are worth another go.

- Soymilkrev, November 4, 2015

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