In the mid-1990s, Pizza Hut commissioned Ween to write a jingle for a new product, which was a pizza that had a cheese-filled crust. They wrote a very catchy 30-second song aptly titled “Where’d the Cheese Go?” Pizza Hut hated it and did not use it, prompting Ween to put the song on a live/B-sides album. Oddly enough though, “Where’d the Cheese Go?” sounded like any other song that Ween has ever put out.
However, that is what makes Ween the most refreshing band in rock.
Most bands are confined to a formula, a genre or a target market which shapes its songs accordingly. When you open up a new record from that band, you pretty much know what to expect, and if the band goes off the beaten path, you often find yourself disappointed. With Ween, however, they tend to shun away from any and all convention, priding themselves on doing the opposite of what the average listener might expect.
The first track on Shinola, Vol. 1, called “Tastes Good on the Bun,” is a hybrid of the percussion from “Shout” by Tears for Fears with the melody of the desert level from Mario III while just repeating the song title for lyrics. on’t ask me how it fits; it just does.
It is followed by “Boy’s Club,” an infectious ditty which sounds like a 1980s Saturday morning cartoon theme if it did not have lyrics like "you can talk of the future / you can talk of the past / you can go out and find yourself a nice piece of ass."
You think this album can’t get any stranger? Try again. “Israel” is a Lite FM / jazz patio jam with what I assume is a sample of a rabbi leading a prayer about God.
I’m sorry if my comparisons seem awkward, but that is Ween. It is like that kid in grade school who you would dare to mix all the foods on his tray, not intending him to like it, even though he honestly did. Shinola, Vol. 1 is so against the grain that those untrained to the Ween ear (like yours truly) need to give it multiple listens with the hopes to make sense of why or how you enjoy it so much.
The one constant expectation you can gather from a Ween album is that at least two of their songs will stick in your head for days (whether you want them to or not) and many of the lyrics will make you laugh your ass off.
Shinola, Vol. 1 is a b-sides album, which is something I probably should have mentioned at the beginning of this review. The fact that this is such an album, however, is completely irrelevant. B-side records are novelties, a collection of songs that just did not fit on the album said band is working on and something usually reserved for true fans. However, every Ween album is a collection of misfits that only a small niche of the population will embrace and appreciate.