IV: Sky Cruiser (Quickie)

BY: ween

FROM: sky cruiser ep

YEAR: 1993

i find most ween records can attach to certain eras or mindsets in the band, regardless of their steadfast eclecticism, their methodology has undergone incremental but often noteworthy shifts, especially in the directing of more “mature” songcraft, whatever that may entail in the context of ween, or in the context of anyone really. pure guava is a fittingly citrus-tinged drum-machine psych odyssey of warped nonsense and candy-coated gonzo pop, like an lcd trip viewed through orange-tinted shades, epic and fucking stupid. chocolate and cheese however is more a truncated white album of ween sensibilites, more outright delivering than implying genre excursions as well as songwriting that dips more into their more traditional influences and adoration for cheese. then, somewhere nestled between these two equally delightful but totally disparate assemblages of ween tunes, lies sky cruiser. well, and i’m fat but uhhhhhhhhh *coughs, observes wall, taps fingers, coughs again*.

sky cruiser is indeed between these two worlds musically, its drum machine more snappy, its radiant jangling guitars more resonant that the whirring aural marmalade of guava, ringing out and shimmering across the sky. the synth is something incomparable, feverishly squelching in between spaces, scraping like nails against a chalkboard. the sound is perhaps deceptive, who could say if there’s a full band at play here, but it sounds more plausible than ever before, and yet that citrus flavor still remains, the production fittingly somewhere between the psychedelic drum machine pop of guava and the more cleaned-up songwriter-minded c&c, a bit closer to guava musically than c&c but the steps taken forward in production are undeniable in my view. the doubled-tracked vocal especially pops, a great usage of traditional professional production techniques in a way still undeniably ween, gene warmly liliting beneath a comparatively more elated soaring falsetto, the two combined perfectly inhabiting a warm space and riding the propulsive wave of the track’s beat.

i will take this moment to address the remix contained on the EP, which is a stretched out version, the percussion a bit more reserved and textural, Blopping around on elongated vocal patterns which feel more like quirkily tweaked samples than a direct vocal performance. the guitar solo is pretty neat here, opting to submerge instead of soar, plucking watery textures tickle the washed-out beat. this one has alot more of a trippy Country Drive feel to it, barrelling through the sun-baked badlands with the top down, flies smacking the windshield one-by-one, the world whirring past you like memories you never had. this one is more evocative for sure, its textures are mighty engaging and plentiful. each version serves a mood but i’m usually wont to reach for the original, its fool-proof firecracker snap and summery groove provide a perfect pop jam with just the right amount of the track clawing away at itself to not let yourself quite forget just yet that ween are goddamn weirdos.

B

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III: Sarah

BY: ween

FROM: pure guava

YEAR: 1992

TO: sarah

the uninitiated or not-quite-initiated-enough may mistake ween’s sincerity for another side of their insincerity, which you could barely blame them for. they’re like boys crying wolf, except they’re typically crying shit way more insane than wolf, such prolific facetious jokesters that one may perceive equally an attempt to hit their funny bone from their most outwardly goofy larks as well as their perhaps ostensibly shocking intimate tracks, often times especially those where the proceedings are stripped to a bare minimum and our hero aaron freeman is singing, often beautifully, emotional naked, about Love and its many facets. surely they can’t be serious?

there are many elements that have dragged ween out of the doldrums of novelty music for me and many dedicated fans around the world, but perhaps the most obvious reason stares you in the face from a position so tightly packed next to the sillier or more crass tracks that it becomes difficult to understand or accept. right before sarah is PUMPIN 4 THE MAN after all, a gleeful helium-voiced stomp containing fleeting tales of hard labor and some peppered in homophobia for good measure (i know they were young but they still sing it this way. but thats an SJW rant for another review innit). meanwhile, right AFTER sarah we have springtheme which is stellar but about what exactly? it does more to reinforce the emotional hollowness of the band theoretically speaking, sincerity just becoming another suit for the band to wear just because they can, and at times that’s probably the case.

sarah on the other hand, is not that at all. sarah is indeed sincere, and you’d be forgiven for missing that if your ween fandom has not yet dipped into all the behind-the-scenes and lore. let it not be forgotten that beyond the chameleonic tomfoolery that gene and dean were still real guys, even back then, dealing with real shit. sometimes the sincerity came out in a manner uncomfortable *darts eyes at Nicole*, but it was always there at least in small doses, difficult to pluck from the source given expectations from a base understanding of the band, but there.

the mistaken assumptions of what ween even ARE dart from all direction to misperceive their mission statement, especially when it comes to some insinuation of their eye for satire. no doubt, ween are eclectic as the day is long but not out of some adept eye for conventions and deconstruction of them. ween’s musical impersonations may be goofy quite often, but that’s because the brothers ween are goofy, the music works because they like it, because they often give a shit about what they’re doing and do their damnedest to do it justice in the process. there’s a reason certain influence crop up more often, or why certain genres may take precedence on occasion. 

maybe it makes the whole journey less interesting for you if it’s no longer a duo of kids taking the piss of all the most ridiculous tropes and excesses of the music they’re tackling, and rather they just simply dig this stuff and wanna do it while maintaining their own weirdness (because they were kids, so doesn’t that make more sense anyway), and that’s understandable. i wanted to believe it too, that there was this grand-scale lampooning of a huge array of music coming from the most unlikely source, a discography long middle finger of more genres than i knew existed. it still sort of is, but the picture no doubt has changed. however, it’s via this revelation that the trade off begins, once you understand ween’s sincerity in their music, you begin to unravel every layer of honesty in their music. make no mistake, the story changes at this point. the band that wrote a “song” of latino-accented restaurant order making actually has some real shit to say. who could have even guessed?

for years, for YEARS, i did not know sarah was about a real person, and i sure as shit didn’t know the gravity of that in the context of aaron’s entire life. I pegged it maybe a lampooning of the archetypal lighter-lifting balladry that becomes all too obligatory in the world of stadium rock, filling the packed room with a delicate antithesis to the noise pollution of your typical rockers, showing your Sensitive Side, perhaps dishonestly so for the gain of Many Ladies. it could still be a portion that, but never let it be forgotten that aaron delving into almost suffocating sacchrine music is not a big ironic statement but a torch carrying of his influences and inspirations in his upbringing. you’d not be blamed to peg it all as bullshit including faux-sincerity, but it is indeed quite the opposite.

the key to this is the history itself, gener’s adoration of very tender delicate awful banal garbage like that fucking shitty eric clapton song he covered (i wont name it because i wont lead more people into that abyss) is perhaps embarrassingly real, an indulgence in the cheesy and the excessive is part of his nature. the other crucial chunk of history involved in this greater context is off the stage. indeed, sarah was an object of affection for our tragic hero for longer than you’d think, and the emotional space that she has helped carve out for him has shifted alot over time, and there will be plenty of time to examine those individual space later on.

this one is quite simple however, a warm and atmospheric delicate strummer for the titular character, his girlfriend, his wife, his ex-wife. it can be a bit difficult (perhaps partially due to an insufficient interest?) to map out the timeline perfectly but at this point i believe she was either already his girlfriend or not quite yet. it’s a one-sided affair too, we don’t get to really know anything about sarah, we aren’t much made to care about her. it doesn’t matter if we do, all that matters is how much gener does. “i will tell you how much you mean to me”, gener coos as his voice reverberates across the seemingly endless void the song occupies, though i always imagine it as he’s alone on a stage, sat upon a stool. specifically i imagine it from far away, tucked in the back of the crowd, gathering in the scope of the bubble this moment is filling, the flangy chords swelling up into every corner and through every crevice in the space. sometimes the most powerful noise is a whisper, begging us, nay demanding us to lean in.

oh, but i shant forget our partner in crime. deaner falls back through the majority of the proceedings to let gener do his thing but when the time is right, he punctuates the mood with an endearingly clumsy solo of wonky plucking, almost sounding intentionally improvised and clueless, like an upstart band (which no but kinda?) performing their big hit for the first time for all the local kids. this is their time to shine, no more getting ignored. the big cheesy archetype movie moment where the outcasts become the heroes of the day, and who would be standing there perfectly in the center of the tidal wave of lighters? 

our hero would already know the answer, eyes laser focused as he emits every word with purpose. it doesn’t matter if it’s complex, love doesn’t demand a profound poetic statement anyway. it’s more about feeling, and if you can’t feel what gener is saying here, well then i have news for you: you don’t actually know what he’s saying.
B +

II: The F**ked Jam

by: ween

from: quebec:

year: 2003

status: fucked
ah, the fucked jam, or the f***ed jam for the kiddies. i always wonder about this tune. i wonder about its place in the grand design of ween’s world. i wonder about the worth people would offer it, if this little oddball instrumental, packed with as much silence as noise, piloted by the most unnerving squirming synth ever, seizing throughout the plodding groove, has any worth at all really, if its scripture is worthy of the ween bible, whatever that means. i wonder if fans ever exclusively and intentionally throw on this tune and just vibe and wiggle to it, or if it makes them thank their deity of choice for the god/gods/nothing-given gift of the skip button. mostly though, i wonder what gener and deaner themselves think of it. i wonder if they care about it at all, if they even remember it. i think they may secretly hate it, that it could be their CANDI II. their CANDII.

yet, perhaps that would be giving it too much credit, to claim it’s even worthy of anyone’s active scorn. perhaps its only worthy of a passive ambivalence that only sprouts up when they’re forced to remember that its wedged onto one of the finest musical records ever slapped onto plastic/wax/digital stuff. perhaps that is a reason to hate it though? because it’s disruptive within the context of the record, like an intermission of stomach virus noises, slicing your euphoria in two and defying your Right As An American to enjoy a perfect record of musical noises without being disrupted by aural nausea.

is it fair to judge a ween song on artificially constructed merits relating to their intrinsic “easy listening” though? the creed of ween would defy such a notion i’m sure. if you are having an easy ride, you’re not hearing ween (or you’re hearing white pepper). so perhaps the fucked jam is a further confirmation of what ween are, quebec dives into plenty of corners of their world but only here does it indulge in the sort of off-putting noise that once graced their lo-fi records, a musical representation of their sort of prankster approach to music, without falling into novelty by relying on a crutch of lack of convention. that would be why quebec doesn’t pack itself with these “jams”, it wouldn’t be ween if it was always a challenge because if it’s always a challenge, is it ever actually?

ween tackled maturity, thematically and emotionally AND compositionally, head on with quebec, pushing what made white pepper the surprisingly graceful and straight-laced pop record it was into the world of the genre rainbow of a record like choc-and-cheese while maintaining that new found compositional growth and depth, as well as indulging in some of their BROWNER tendencies to make for a best of all ween worlds. with that, it only makes sense something here has to play the role of the youthful nonsense, the gleeful nuisance or the playful simplicity of past ween of the brownest degree.

THAT is where the fucked jam comes in, and that is where its context is appropriate regardless of its individual worth. its place in the lyric sheet is marked “Nope.”, its composition is about three seconds of content looped indefinitely and long, anxious silences that eventually pull you all the way out of the jam until it slams you back in, a seemingly unending zombie lurch, wailing and wandering but with nowhere to go, and that’s the point.
make no mistake, on no planet is the fucked jam great, uuuunless that wormy little synth could in fact be some alien language and ween are trying to contact superior life (or return home 😥 ). i would however assert that any claims strictly against it would be making a bigger deal out of it than it ever was, you’d be doing yourself a diservice by making a bigger hubbub about the track than anyone else ever has. the fucked jam has never been played live, and i’d bet every piece of furniture that i own that it’s never even been requested. no place to cram those solos after all, no place for gener to shine either (though of course instrumentals have had their periodic time in the sun live).

something that always interests me is that if you take a gander at the tracklist of the demo behemoth CAESAR (one of the greatest demo compilations ever), you will find about every song that managed to fall onto quebec’s final tracklisting. however, one little bugger didnt make it. indeed, the fucked jam AT THE VERY LEAST does not have a demo on caesar. this can obviously be chalked up to the sheer volume of unreleased ween material but given the collection contains like every other song that made the cut it feels like more than coincidence.

i wouldn’t hesitate to say fucked jam probably went through no writing process, no reconfiguration or anything, besides perhaps adding the elongated silences. it is indeed as it says on the tin, a Jam. that sorta begs the question, to me anyway, what is this and how did it make the record? how when so many other tracks, so many BETTER track waste away on a (again, great) demo compilation, perhaps never to be remastered and in delicious hi-def while you can hear crisp, perfect HD QUALITY fucked jam to your heart’s content. it’s a bit cruel almost, also a bit hilarious. that is ween, isn’t it?

through all of it, through all the undulating garbled signal synths, baby’s first drum pattern and general monotony, it defies inspiration, even compared to other ween jams. it’s a big nothing of an oddball rockout, i know it, you know it, ween know it, they must. despite all of this, or perhaps due to this, it remains a fascinating curiosity. the less i know, the more i want to. the fucked jam is shrouded in mystery because nobody much cares about whats behind the curtain, nobody is begging to know more or hear more. the world is no better and no worse via the existence of this thing. 

yet, i do believe it slips well into quebec for the aformentioned tone of it, the way it just feels like a pisstake thrown in because they know they can. they weren’t wrong, they’d done it before, albeit with more effect, more bravado or more extremity. fucked jam is a tame attempt at working up your nerves if anything at all. it deserves no derision, it deserves no praise. i do think however, that it deserves a little more attention. i feel like there’s more to know. given the history overall though, i don’t see that happening. i don’t doubt that it’s filler, i just want to know why it was chosen to fill the space it did, if it was any more than ween doing something impulsive or for a laugh. they sure didn’t see anything in it if time is to be believed. maybe that was the point? most people don’t write songs that are fully meant to be disregarded, but most people aren’t ween.
the fucked jam gets a Six Live Plays It’d Never Actually Get Out Of Ten

I: Boing

any typical ween fan wll already have questions at this point i’m sure. “boing? that insignificant little number in the middle of the pod?” yes, that one. why? well, i kinda love it. i’ve kinda loved it for so long (ref) that my adoration of it blossomed before i ever really dipped into the world of actual ween fandom beyond myself and the one guy i shared ween fandom with on those old family guy forums, yknow the one. anyway, i picked this one for a few reasons; it’s a very brief piece so it’s a nice starting point to analyzing, generally speaking, but in regards to ween specifically i think it also steps upon some delightful idiosyncracies that embody alot of the early character of ween, and more importantly, the nature of Brown. “what’s Brown?” asks the stupid bastards who don’t listen to ween. Brown…is Boing.i feel like it’s impossible to discuss this particular tune without acknowledging the incongruence present between my opinion and basically Every Other Ween Fan On Earth. in fact i think it’s less interesting why i like this one and moreso to extrapolate why so many others write it off as a comparative throwaway amongst their vast discography. to be entirely fair to the fandom, they aren’t alone. ween themselves have played the tune a very low amount, and it was only in their early days in which they had a relative lack of sure fire live hits and were sort of toying with various tracks to see what worked the best. i love this experimental DAT era of ween perhaps the most of all of live ween, but it was clear the band (then only gener and deaner, donned in stupid hats and goggles and proudly smackin play on that DAT for Percussions) wasnt entirely sure what worked and didn’t, not that the then-youthful goofballs they were much cared if people were totally into the songs if the experience was at least “unique” im sure, which i’d wager is undeniable. 

despite this, songs were quickly tossed aside of the typical setlist, and eventually boing fell victim to cruel, cold-hearted abandonment. back then, they were more likely to whip out a tune that would ultimately be left on the cutting room floor such as GWS cuts Seconds or The Wind or The Pod cuts like Weed Whore. it does beg the question what process ween even took with making the decision of what songs to hang onto and which to leave astray in their interminable collection of lost tunes, but it does explain why boing was even given the brief showcase it was, at least in my view. i’d say ween were still adjusting to taking this whole music thing a bit more seriously, one foot still in goofing off and entertaining their friends, so they maybe didn’t consider the long-term of what songs would be worth salvaging or what worked or what have you. they also weren’t a Rock Band in the traditional sense so almost anything could be made to work in their peculiar live display anyway. i’d definitely say it’s no coincidence the song was permanently cast aside as soon as the full band era of ween was set into motion. maybe they never loved boing, maybe they just Had boing, and at that point maybe they felt like they needed it. it was a tragically short moment in the spotlight for boing, and i dont doubt the correlation of ween’s growing catalog, slowly but surely gaining favor of the crowd, gaining staples with tracks like Tick. inevitably, boing was but a phase.

but why do The Fans disregard it? well i have a few theories.
THEORY #1. ween fans are Closet Rockists and Boing doesn’t Rock now does it? of course this theory is rather myopic and probably could only address a few of its detractors. i still think it’s partially valid given alot of response i’ve seen to some of the less Rockin’ ween tunes. boing doesn’t have alot of meat on its bones to savor if you need to whack off to a big solo or somethin’.

THEORY #2. the ween live show in all post-DAT years has emphasized massive rockouts, stupidly big jams and soaring solos and what have you. many ween songs have been reformatted live to nail this vibe but maybe boing was beyond repair here? as a result the song doesn’t stay in listener’s minds because its presence has been minimzed.

THEORY #3. this one’s simple. ween have like 300+ songs. SOME will get forgotten, and i wont pretend boing deserves to sit atop a pedestal among the other true ween greats. there’s enjoyment and there’s delusion.

i think ultimately it’s a combination of all three, but #2 is probably the closest to fact. boing’s shelf life was limited by its inability to transform unlike many other ween songs which managed to fit into the full band era ween world.
but WHY is that! you could claim the sparsity of the track is the source of its elusiveness as a good live track, but the Ween Faithful will know that the sparse collection of DAT boings are actually quite different from the original, MOSTLY thru the addition of a drum machine which adds a lot of required meat to the bones of the tune that would probably suffice if played today. so i suppose that returns us to #3, maybe ween themselves have sorta forgotten about it. not literally (probably), but in a discography so packed, priorities are set and things are left behind. it doesn’t surprise me but i do think it made for a pretty exciting live performance way back when myself so i’d love to see it again. someday (ref).
BUT FUCK ALL THIS THEORETICAL SHIT, let’s review the goddamn song itself. i’ve spent so much time talking Around the song, and to be fair, the reason is because there’s not alot to say about this Piece itself, but as i stated, i do think it represents the nature of Brown. i think ween, be it through some hidden prowess or a deeply rooted desire to fuck with people, have found alot of unique successes by avoiding convention and by making perhaps BAFFLINGLY sparse pieces of music. boing isn’t even the most extreme example of this (ill get to Thats Poppycock when i can say things about it that aren’t “wh”), but i think it definitely gets the ball rolling. boing’s sparsity isn’t even just notable from the absence of percussion, everything about the song taps into this sort of surreal drowsiness, soft spoken vocal, Mouth Noises very audible (mayb this triggers yer asmr, i wont judge!), the guitar being ever so delicately strummed, even the solo sounds teensy, as though they HAD to record softly not to wake someone up. maybe all their Pod Pals were snuzzing at th time. there’s something about all of these soft, deliberate and low textures that swirls together into a dreamy Nyquil blues, swimming through your ears with nary a moment of EXCITEMENT, but thats kind of why it works. it’s unassuming and tender and thin as can be, perhaps inexplicably. the BROWN nature of it comes from these small touches, not just the soft vocal but the Tangible close-mic muttering, the least enthralling solo in the universe becoming strangely enrapturing as it gets even quieter and harder to grasp but you just wanna try, and of course the lyrics, whatever they mean. would you like to do a boing? i would.
amidst all of the wild noise and lo-fi rockers and haunting textures of the pod it’s nice to get this breather of a track, and yet it still possesses its own unique touches to make it feel realized for what it is. everything about it embodies and confirms its tone, nary a clash in the proceedings, which is granted probably somewhat easy given the brief running time.
it should be noted however, that LIVE boing is quite different, and should be judged differently. in this context it’s more of a typical grimy oddball drum machine rocker like so many early ween tunes, almost feeling like the vestigial tail of a track like frank (which was played live 0 times in the DAT era tragically, so this was a fine consolation). gener’s vocal is expressive and fluid, his gleeful high-pitched BOINGs punctuate each uh, verse? the drum machine picks up in speed on the “would you like to do a boing” bit, a great subtle bit of kicking up the momentum, not letting the typically ploddy drum machine feel to inert. deaner’s guitar sound is shreddy and proud and nails the previously softly strummed guitar in a way that makes the progression more gnarly and the solo a litte scratchier (albiet not any more soaring). this version is probably ultimately the Better song even though it lacks the all-encompassing dreamy tone of the studio version. gener’s vocal is alot more fun to sing along to, and even the clumsiest bits of deaner’s guitar line grind proudly. most importantly it harbors that classic vibe of two idiots just having alot of fun though, something you get with ween in a very unique way, and that with the studio version of boing is maybe more muted due to the feel. it’s hard to choose between these two, so i wont, but for the casual boing naysayer, i implore you to nab a few live boings and see if they didn’t rip (rip rip) shit up a little harder, maybe you’ll find the track just needed a different tone for you for it to come out out it’s shell. me, i like a passive ween tune. everyone needs a respite from the rocking.
boing (by ween) gets Seven Rip Rip Rip Van Winkles out of Ten.

Hey, do you like Ween? 

if you do, this is the blog series for you! i’ve been listening to ween for a good eight years now and in terms of spotting idosyncracies and spouting useless trivia, i’m a fountain of it in no way greater than in regards to ween. in light of that and an interest to talk more substantially about their music, i have decided to being reviewing their material, in no specific order other than what pertains to my interests at any given time. i hope the small but vocal ween faithful enjoy these musings and the ween Ignorant mayb give a shot to a few tunes and join our evil, evil cult. i’m not entirely certain what form these reviews will take, but if you lovely weenheads out there have any criticisms about the way i’m goin’ about this (if u care at all!) don’t hesitate to thrash me for my shitty reviews and mayb i’ll learn. maybe.
OKAY, enough prologue. let’s get started!