Vinyl&Wine 19: Weezer + Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah

One of the first CDs I ever purchased when I was in middle school was the Blue Album from Weezer in 1994; 20 years ago. For years, I played that album out, broke it, bought another, lost it, bought another, left it in a friend’s car in high school, bought another, you get the picture. In 1996, they released their second album entitled, Pinkerton. I bought that too, liked it, but didn’t love it like I did the Blue Album still. It wasn’t until freshman year of college that Pinkerton found itself into permanent rotation in my dorm room and teal-colored Pontiac Sunfire. It was an ugly car that had just slightly more power than a power wheels kid’s toy, but it was my first car and I liked it. I now own both Weezer’s Blue Album and Pinkerton on vinyl and know that someday I will play both of them out. Weezer has just announced a 2014 tour date in my home town and I am contemplating buying tickets for it. As a huge fan of these two album, the choice should be a no brainer, but it is difficult, because there is no way to guarantee any of these songs will get played. I checked their full list of current dates and they are playing specific shows that feature the full Blue and Pinkerton albums, but this show in my home town doesn’t specify that. It is a toss-up. Maybe sitting at home playing both of these records straight through with a bottle of wine would prove to be a better use of money and personal space.

Recently, my Pinkerton vinyl has been getting pricked by the needle most often. The album is one that comes from deep within lead singer/ songwriter Rivers Cuomo. I don’t know the full story or the truth behind the rumors in the bands life at the time, but it is said, that Rivers was going through depression, long distance relationships, band member stresses, deaths of friends, and much more. This was also the last album bassist Matt Sharp would be involved in. He then formed the band The Rentals. Pinkerton has deep storylines, creative melodic progressions, and clever backing vocals. The production is much different than the Blue Album, or anything else to be released afterwards. They broke away from the catchy side of garage rock for Pinkerton. The sound of the band was maturing and sources for writing material was strengthening. It is sad, but after this album came and touring began, it took a toll on the band. They stopped touring and all but seemed to break up. After years of collecting themselves, they began touring again in the early 2000’s and put out their 3rd album, which I did not like very much. The only thing I did like about that album was the addition of bassist Mikey Welsh. He proved to be too rock n’ roll for the band and was asked to leave after one album. He has since passed away of an overdose. Like I said, he was pretty extreme. The third album was in no way anything like Pinkerton. They had become a poppy hit machine with no real deep connections in their songs. For many years after that, Rivers refused to play any Pinkerton songs on tour. To distant fans like myself, the reasons were and still are a mystery why it was so. I still become giddy when I listen to these albums, or hear a song on the radio by chance. There are certain wines that do that do me too.

Weezer’s Pinkerton fans are a strange demented cult of people themselves. Many times, the fans of Weezer are in two camps, lovers or haters of Pinkerton. As you can tell, I am in the minority group of lovers. The same can be said for cult wines. I am in no way saying that people either love or hate cult wines, but some people hate the idea of cult wines and how it drives pricing to enormous amounts. All the wines are good, okay they are really good, but at prices in the hundreds of dollars, they can be very unattainable for most people. As a resident employee of the wine business, I do have the fortune to try a lot of these wines on someone else’s dime from time to time, and when I do, I get giddy. Some of my favorites are from the producers of Sin Qua Non, Kistler, Seavey, Dominus, and Charles Smith wines. All of them sell wines into the hundreds of dollars, but Charles Smith also makes great wines that are much more attainable. Sure I love their Royal City Syrah, but at $100 a bottle, maybe once a year is good enough. For much less, their Boom Boom Syrah is a far better value from his Washington State vineyards. It retails for around $20 and it well worth. Charles Smith is a self-taught wine maker, ex-band manager for the Ravonettes, and a true gritty rock n’ roller at heart. He has made it big in the wine world, even winning accolades like “Winemaker of the Year,” “Best new winery,” “Best new winery of the last 10 years,” by publications like Food and Wine, and Wine & Spirits. He specializes in Syrah, my favorite grape, and he does it well. They are all rich, concentrated, and chalk full of flavor. The depth, creativity, and passion reminds me a lot of Weezer’s Pinkerton release.

From garage band, to sold out stadiums, Weezer has come full circle and left a lasting impression on me and my musical sensibilities.  Charles Smith came from humble beginnings early on in 1999 in the wine business. He did it because he has a passion of it, and the unwavering gumption to jump in head first. Only passionate people tend to work like this; myself included. Passion and creativity are the first ingredients for Rivers Cuomo and Charles Smith and I urge you all to explore the worlds they have created for us all to enjoy. The pairing of their music and wines is cult classic in my household.