Tonight, on Teenage Victory Songs, we will be going over some of the reasons why “Blowin’ My Stack” is a modern Weezer classic. You are invited to download it and listen first, or read along as you go.
1. Starting a song about blowing out your amp with a riff played through…well, a blown-out amp. Nice little way to get a song started, and it combines with the acoustic guitar to make for a really nice texture during the verses.
2. “Woe is me” — with a sense of humor, for once! Can’t remember the last time a Weezer song charmed me so well with an opening line.
3. The just-below-a-shout vocal harmonies: “A mighty long time!” “But you don’t know why!” Reminds me of the early ’90s classic “Chess.” And, speaking of which…
4. This song reminds me of “Chess” in a lot of ways, actually. There’s the lyrics about mundane day-to-day life, and the struggle to transcend it (in “Chess,” Cuomo offers the second person “you” a paint brush; here, he leads by example in turning up the volume on his amp). There’s a similarity I hear in the confidently strummed acoustic, too.
5. The extended verses. Too often nowadays Rivers is content to simply bide his time during the verse before the big chorus ear candy (“Tripping Down the Freeway,” “Pork and Beans”), but here he really gets in the groove, opening up some breathing room for himself to actually say something, and the band to actually do something interesting (I like the little syncopated fills Pat Wilson adds).
6. Speaking of big chorus ear candy: holy shit! The layered guitars and cathartic shouts really have an air of pop euphoria to them. It sounds happy, it is happy, it is infectiously so. It makes me feel good.
7. Second verse: “You’re so scared! (So scared!) / So scared! (So scared!) / …And I’m scared too!” Adorable (relatable!) sentiment, amplified in effect by a great melody and a harmony to match. Can’t help but smile.
8. When was the last time you heard a Cuomo song that actually added something noticeable to the chorus? The little background vocal addition in the second chorus is such a great touch.
9. First half of the solo is some fire. Cuomo’s shredding in a way I done never heard him shred before (is this the kind of ass-kicking he was hoping to achieve on Maladroit?), and the band’s grooving hard behind him. Meanwhile, I air guitar enthusiastically from a distance…
10. But that’s just the first half! Wilson lets fly a drum roll, and now we’re in halftime breakdown territory — but Cuomo’s still going! First time I heard this part, especially when that second guitar (Brian Bell?) kicks in for a moment, I could scarcely believe it. Taken as a whole, this has to be my favorite Weezer solo since…I don’t know, that 2002 Toronto boot of “O Girlfriend?”
11. That bass-heavy bridge, suddenly all melancholy and introspective. “I’m too tired to fight” — nice emotional depth added to the song, and a nice little expansion on the message of the song too (Cuomo hates the daily grind but, like everyone else, is too worn down to fight it — thank God he’s got the guitar, right?).|
12. At this point in the song, the rhythm section is awarded a gold medal. Wilson’s given free rein to indulge in some subtlety for once (I love the tantalizing way he refrains from any cymbal crashes for such a lengthy stretch), and Scott Shriner’s nimble fretwork gives him an equally rare opportunity to flex his chops a bit (to great benefit of the listener, no less). Bell’s little atmospheric guitar touches here are award-worthy, as well.
13. Speaking of Cuomo classics (or near-classics), this whole bridge moment reminds me of 1992’s “Lemonade” — the way in which what sounds like such a simple and happy pop song breaks down into something a little more forlorn, for a time. And frankly, I think “Stack” does it even better.
14. Then everthing builds back up — dare I invoke the spirit of “The Good Life,” here? Dare I do: it’s the only Weezer song I can think of that has such an ass-kicking solo that suddenly breaks down into such an extended beautiful one, and then a build back into the song’s main structure. Granted, of course, “The Good Life” is a much superior song — but only because it reaches further (for example: any song that attempts slide guitar glory, and achieves it, is a winner). “Stack” delivers, albeit with slightly less ambitious intent.
15. At the end of the buildup, a well-placed and entirely justified pickscrape! A rarity in any song by anyone.
16. Final chorus fakeout: new riff drops, Cuomo screams like hell, screams like hell again, and then we are delivered back into pop chorus heaven.
17. Cool device in and of itself, but seriously, that scream is one of the best Cuomo’s ever laid to tape. Damn!
18. Final chorus! Once again, a bit different from the first two. My only gripe here (and with the entire song) is that I wish the “blowin’ my stack” gang vocals in the background were a little higher in the mix, but what a small gripe that is indeed.
19. Cuomo’s last “stack” shout. Yes.
20. The little drum roll and guitar hit at the end. Indeed, this sounds like a BAND playing, not a song being constructed piece-by-piece. A really good band, too!
Really, I can’t imagine the last time a Cuomo POP song made me feel this happy just to sing and dance along. Perhaps “Photograph” — but even “Photograph” doesn’t have anything like the solo, breakdown, or build that “Stack” does.
My impression is that this is the sound of a 2000s Cuomo tune penned with the sensibilities of the ’90s Cuomo we all know and love. It’s got that same pop flair that “Tripping Down the Freeway” and “The Other Way” do, but it’s just executed with so much more creativity, life, and attention to detail in the mix. It’s made all the more impressive by knowing that — aside from some small recent additions (that scream, for example; who knew Cuomo could pull that off past 40?) — this song was one of some dozen or so almost-finished leftovers from 2005’s notoriously hollow Make Believe, along with other winsome tunes like “I’m A Robot” and the surprisingly good new(er) version of “I Don’t Want Your Loving.” What else we missin’ out on from these sessions, fellas?