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“Velouria” dropped at an interesting time in the Weezer chronology. A cover of a Pixies tune, it was recorded in 1998 and released, finally, in June of 1999 on the Where Is My Mind? tribute album. It was, after spring 1997’s excellent Good Life EP, the first Weezer song to be officially released in over two years. It’s also significant for the fact that it is the band’s first released recording with second bassist Mikey Welsh, who replaced Matt Sharp after he defected to focus on the Rentals’ protracted Seven More Minutes sessions.

Although it may have been bittersweet to have waited so long to only get a cover, it must have been electrifying to know that Weezer was back to recording. It doesn’t hurt that this is a fantastic performance across the board: Rivers and Brian’s voices have never sounded finer, the band is in top rocking form, and they manage to take the Pixies classic and make it their own. The band plays with deep feeling, and to my ears, Weezer’s production has never sounded better — the mix is clear, the instruments are well defined, and everything is in its right place. While not showcasing any of Rivers’ songwriting from this era (the mysterious 1997-1999 period, that all signs point to having been a lost grail), it certainly must have given the impression that despite a commercial flop and an estranged founding member, Weezer had not missed a beat in the downtime, and were poised to come back stronger than ever.

Interestingly, this comes from an August 1998 session at Mouse House Studios, in LA. At least four other (original) songs were attempted, but we know nothing of them to date other than the titles, for which two are remarkable: “Trampoline” (a word present in the first line of “Velouria” — a connection, perhaps?), and “Disco Queen” (simply because it sounds interesting, especially in the context of Weezer).