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Usually the vibe in Decomposed is low key and fairly serious. That is, unless a Rivers runs through it. And after a year full of hootenannies, incongruous collaborations, and breaking world records, this is surprising absolutely nobody. A few weeks ago he put out a call for a pianist and an a cappella group to help decompose some tunes for us. Along with those folks, he brought a pretty enthusiastic up-and-comer named Jermaine Dupri (!). Throw in a cowboy flutist and three tunes from Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo (including a Beach Boys cover) and you have a Rivers-sized holiday spectacle.

The session unfolds in three parts: first there’s “I Was Scared,” on which Cuomo’s joined by his hand-selected pianist Sonya Lee and five members of the Dartmouth Aires, an a cappella group from Dartmouth College. For the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby,” Rivers goes sans piano and full-on a cappella with the Dartmouth quintet on backing harmonies. And then there’s the grand jam of “Can’t Stop Partying,” which features five acoustic guitarists and three percussionists (from bands Crash Kings, Alkaline Trio, Yellowcard, Melee, Reeve Oliver and Ozma), big-hatted flutist Greg Vail, and Mr. Dupri. Fresh for ’08.

Comments (18)
  1. Guac  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2008 0

    Stereogum, next time I can do without the yellow tint on all the video. Looks whack.

  2. Matt  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2008 0

    This is the rivers I love hearing….Why can’t the weez records come off like this??? Maybe because they polish their albums to much.

  3. honey anne  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2008 0

    This version of “I Was Scared” is absolutely stunning. Everyone sounds incredible. The sheer musicality of this arrangement- complete with piano and Rivers and vocals- is refreshingly new, compact, energetic, and has still has space for everyone’s lines to be heard individually. MORE OF THIS PLEASE!!! Thank you for giving me this opportunity to hear how gorgeous Rivers voice and music is- I love this pianist- thank you!!!

  4. That was a fantastic performance! Loved the vocals and the piano!

  5. Fletch  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2008 0

    Really cool blend of flavors. Unexpected. Refreshing. Like a Fresca.

  6. JT  |   Posted on Dec 23rd, 2008 0

    I loved the spontaneous feel and and energy of “I
    Was Scared”…the terrific piano added a great dimension to the performance

  7. Heide  |   Posted on Dec 23rd, 2008 0

    Great song and arrangement! Loved the pianist! Can’t get the song out of my head now!

  8. DB  |   Posted on Dec 23rd, 2008 0

    yay- no moustache!! (sorry- it is a personal preference) ;)

    love this- would also love to hear the piano boosted a bit more in the mix (tho’ that may be due to sub-prime work sound system haha).

  9. The piano was the critical element in this performance. Totally kickass.

  10. SO  |   Posted on Dec 24th, 2008 0

    Thought Cuomo’s voice was raw and powerful. The pianist was amazing and energized the performance!

  11. Kimmy  |   Posted on Dec 29th, 2008 0

    Kick ass!! Raw & amazing… more, more, more!!!!!

  12. MP  |   Posted on Jan 3rd, 2009 0

    Nice job, Rivers…. keep ‘em coming.

  13. spark  |   Posted on Jan 5th, 2009 0

    Pure joy–love the gorgeous arrangement, pretty back-ups, and soulful vocal by Rivers. Pianist adds so much to this song–really brings out every nuance of melody and makes the song move.

  14. Myles  |   Posted on Jan 12th, 2009 0

    An absolutely inspired piece! Encore, ENCORE!!!!

  15. LQ  |   Posted on Jan 15th, 2009 0

    ‘goddamn you half-japanese girls, you do it to me every time’

  16. rivers is a great composer…and the pianist did a good job with dynamics, as well the acapella has done!

  17. matt   |   Posted on Jan 20th, 2009 0

    i just don’t get it. this is amazing. this is the root of what weezer is known for. personal lyrics, swinging hooks, and emotional connection. having already totally given up after maladroit this is very refreshing to hear.

  18. ralph childers  |   Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009 0

    Sonya Lee was wild good in arranging this.

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