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Collapse Into Now

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Having Something Intelligent to Say . . .Cont.

I have received a couple comments so far regarding my challenge. Andrea Musso wrote this before my commentary and has stated very eloquently, in fact, an opinion of being a fan of R.E.M. but also a fan of being a fan of music in general. Unlike some of my barbs directed at R.E.M. I think she is very fair regarding her commentary. I also want to compliment her use of the English language as she is from Argentina so be kind in that respect.
Andrea Writes:

I've been questioning for quite a while my 'fandom' for REM. I don't like to say I'm a fan, because to me that implies a blind praise to an artist’s work, so I rather consider myself an admirer with the ability to discern between good stuff and utter crap.
I can't blame Collapse into now for my 'losing my faith' in the band. I guess it's something that has been gestating in my mind for some years (at least from around the sun on) but when the track list for CiN came out, with names as 'me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I', 'every day is yours to win' -out of a self help book, I immediately thought- and the other crappy ones, it just didn’t feel right to me, despite knowing I was prejudging them. Then Discoverer came out, I downloaded it and I think I must have heard it no more than 10 times. Chatting to other murmusians I sort of felt bad at the moment because they implicitly questioned my lack of interest. Truth is I couldn't spot any of the other released tracks if my life depended on it because I haven't listened to them more than ten times.
So I started wondering why wasn't I interested in them as I had before. I've been listening to their music since 1998 and for most of my late teenage years and early adulthood they were the ones that, with their music, kept me sane in my hardest moments. At that time, I admired their artistic integrity, and their choice to put music over business in a world that in general terms put money over music. Very naive of me, I know.
I think I can define my relationship with music in three stages. The first one took place during my childhood, with my approach to local artists, which to this day are one of my favorites (namely the greatest Argentinean songwriter of all times, Charly García). The second one was my REM era, where I would only listen to all of their CDs most of the time and nothing else. The third, and definitive one, came when I was in college and met a guy who was into a wide range of music, while simultaneously getting Internet access at home. That really opened my mind and I began exploring a lot of different artists and genres, up to today.
Back in September I came across with a Vampire Weekend song (cape cod kwassa kwassa) while I was listening to some 'indie' radio. Something struck me right away about their music, and I think it was the African beat. I’ve always had a thing for that kind of music and really enjoy the Eastern vibes, so I was kind of curious about them. I got their albums and discovered a richness, both in lyrics and music I couldn't get my hands off. I'm no music expert and I only guide myself with what I like, despite the hypes and critical acclaim, but to me it was one of the greatest discoveries I made this year.
I've been wondering ever since what made this band so appealing to me. At first I guess it was the ‘music of the world’ beats mixed with string arrangements, that sort of east meet west kind of mash up, but then (and specially in the second album) I discovered the complexity of their music, the multiple layers of instruments and samples, all and the (machinery like) mechanisms that makes it work so perfectly, going from a flawless rhythmic base to the baroque works of the keyboard, guitars and voices. I am aware that it’s not like they invented TNT, I can acknowledge their influences and I know they’re not the greatest band in the world either, but mesmerized as I was, I began searching on these guys and found out that they had a self produced album (the keyboardist is the band's producer) and had toured the US for quite a while by themselves. At the same time, they were sending their demos to blogs and such. Pretty much, it was four smart guys hanging out who ended up making decent music, recording it/mixing it with a laptop and consequently hopping on a van to tour somewhere and making themselves a reputation via the interwebz and the way of word. I guess it’s rather simple to do that today, without depending on a label to launch your work to the world (despite being successful or not) and I was curious enough as to try, and ending figuring out that that was the way (again, at an initial level, not taking into account all the hype that was created among them) to do things right. I also discovered that VW not only does interesting music, but they’re also very down to earth in regards of their own popularity, (something that I can speak of) and most important of all, they seem to have fun while they’re at it.
My VW ode is in no way made to make an out of context comparison between them and REM because they both emerged in different times and I’m sure without the internet and computer aid, VW wouldn’t have the level of popularity and recognition they have today. But I think that at the end of the day, you have to make all variables work to end up with a decent work. These kids do, while REM seem to have lost interest in making something that apparently has to be both meaningful to them in an ‘artsy’ way, up to their standards and also that they can enjoy. To me, they have been working only because after NAIHF they had to make another six albums and couldn’t get rid of the deal. Should they have quit when Bill left and go making movies and tin foil sculptures because that was what truly made them happy? As far as I’m concerned, they could’ve done that, they don’t owe me or any other fans anything. Personally, I’d prefer to listen to the albums they made when they were satisfied with what they were doing, rather than having to ‘like’ something that is way below their standards. It should be a matter of dignity on their behalf, as I’m sure it would be to me if I ever find myself doing something I don’t enjoy anymore.
Does the ‘collapse’ of my admiration for REM mean I’m losing my coolness in regards to liking a band that most of 16-year-old girls seem to love unconditionally? I don’t know. Maybe I have and now I’m into a band that is liked by schoolgirls who won’t even pay attention to the complexity of the issues the lyrics talk about -mainly in Contra-, and even by the most elemental Argentinean hipster who loves ‘mansard roof’ because it mentions the Argies, despite it being a clear reference to the failures of my home country. Maybe I’m just prejudging the girls and the hipsters with my ‘I know better than you’ attitude. Maybe now I’m into a band that sells its music to Tommy H and Honda (and the girls are right), when ten years ago I would’ve fight to death the dignity of REM for not being ad ‘sellouts’, which is also quite arguable, I think. Or that I have become a cynic, as I grew older. In the end, I have to admit they’re all in it for the money; although for VW at least we should consider whether or not they’re whoring their tunes out.
I think Radiohead to be a very odd, out of the box example. Why have they done such little promotion? Because evidently, they don’t seem to need it. These are the guys who released In Rainbows for free and even gave you a copy of their album at their live shows. Can you even think of a more inappropriate financial suicide than giving away your stuff for nothing? Who works for nothing these days? (besides me, but that’s another story). As you clearly stated, there is more than one way to promote, even if it implies not promoting anything at all ‘the old fashioned way’. In these times of illegal music downloading if you can’t fight it, join it and take
your money out of touring, which in my opinion is where the real profits are. If you like the band, it doesn’t matter if you buy the album but I’m sure you’ll spend all your money for a ticket.
So yeah, times have changed and REM clearly needs to go with the new trends and figure out clever ways of promotion. Or just leave the boat while they can, with their amazing history and contribution to the music world intact. It’s not up to me, or you or Warner, it is up to them. I guess I’d feel more proud of them if they did that than having to put up with their boring stuff because otherwise I’d feel like I’m betraying them.
I am disappointed about REM and I’m not sure there’s a way back for me, as long as they keep releasing songs named autopilot, antimatter, antiwhatever but at least I guess I can relay to their older stuff while I go to concerts with eighteen year old girls who have a crush on a guy straight out of a Tommy H ad.

WTF? How Can Radiohead Release An Album Without Any Promotion

On typical Monday mornings, it’s always a chore to get out of bed but not yesterday. Feeling invigorated after a cool band (Who is Arcade Fire?) won the Album of The Year Grammy, and before anyone could Let England Shake (and props to PJ Harvey for letting me borrow this from her REMring endorsed new album), the guys at Radiohead decided to announce to the world that they were coming out with a new record.
Oh, and the record was coming out this Saturday.
And I thought to myself, what the fuck is going on? How is it possible that a band can come out with an album without months and months of promotion? That is not how the big record companies do it and of course they are big and successful because of their superior knowledge in putting out music. This is what I am used to and not some willy-nilly, oh we are going to come out with a record within the week, and on a Saturday for Christ sakes. Who comes out with albums on a Saturday?
You know, Radiohead is completely fucking up my entire music listening experience, from the random song clip or the single being released on some website to build up my expectations. Their promotion sucks compared to that of R.E.M., oh with their months of preparation for this album.
The Warner Brothers, the record company,  had hours to sit in boardrooms to stare at blank walls and pick their noses to figure out how to truly make ‘Collapse Into Now’ a great record; to come out with all the catchy taglines such as ‘A Return To Form’ or ‘Back to their Classic Sound’. How to make all those wonderful videos with the lyrics.
They were able to share with all their favorite reviewers to assure that magazines like Spin put their most favorable R.E.M. fan in charge of the review of course before the fans or some of the fans start shredding it.
All we got from Radiohead was an appreciative statement that they were happy that we waited.  With R.E.M. we got the same spiel we get after every record. Peter Buck thinks this is the best album that they have ever done. Michael is not talking, and a series of random facts and figures by Mike. Of course it would be possible to come up with an interview for this album based entirely off of past interviews and it would be completely believable.
We have to stop thinking about the common method for releasing an album is.  What Radiohead is proving is that there are more than one methods for large mainstream bands wanting to release music and that does not necessarily mean spending 3 months hyping the shit out of it.
Whatever is in our brains, whether it’s releasing Singles, B-Sides, Tours, Press, no longer applies. We have to start from scratch and have no preconceived notions.
As a sidenote, I have been sitting here listening to the new PJ Harvey album as I type this and it’s continuing a standard for me that the new music that I am checking out and listening is 100 times better than what has been a total and utterly disappointing Collapse of My R.E.M. Fandom.
The songs on the new record blow, blow and blow again.  I went from being slightly excited with this release to complete and utter boredom. The question is not whether I will actually like the new album or not to will I actually purchase it.  I question whether I will have to change my site address to
I wonder whether it would have just been much simpler to just release the album on December when Discoverer was promoted without any press because with fewer preconceived notions I think I would have been much more open to purchasing it.
I wonder whether my tastes and preferences are shifting and I question what is the point to writing about a band that I claim to admire when all that comes out of my mouth these days is crap, crap and more crap.
I question how anyone in the R.E.M. office likes this site.  (And I do question why it has not been removed. Not that it would get me upset as I can totally understand a business having issues with a guy on a blog ragging on their wares).
I have done my spleen-venting and maybe it’s just time to move past the site to something better . . .

It Happened Today Deconstructed

'It Happened Today' is now available in it's deconstructed parts whereby users can go, download all the tracks and recreate their own version of the song and post it here.
It is nice to see the band doing something a little forward-thinking in allowing the consumer to play around with the deconstructed tracks to assemble a completely unique song.

Uberlin Thoughts

I haven't provided myself enough time to give Uberlin a fair shot as of yet, which is the reason for my delayed response in commenting on this song.  And since Mr. Marrone is unavailable I will hold off on providing any correspondence this time around.
At this point, I feel that the song has the potential to be a grower if the new album is something that I am looking at playing pretty consistently (which is obviously becoming part of the problem so far). I would guess that it's in the same vein as something like 'Monty Got a Raw Deal', a good album track.
And I think that is the deal with the great albums is that on your typical awesome 10-12 track album, the ones that you admire that there are 6-8 awesome songs and the others fit where they may. However, over time you begin to admire these tracks more than some of the hits.
So I guess we will have to see how the entire album pans out and make the appropriate comments at that time. 

Mine Smell Like Honey Commentary

Further correspondence between your's truly and Mr. Matthew Marrone.
Dear Matty,
I know you are sitting there chomping at the bit waiting to have a go at me regarding ‘Mine Smell Like Honey’, the latest song to be added to the long list of singles that R.E.M. has released in their careers. I doubt that they are going to get a big write-up in Village Voice. 
And let’s be honest, this does not Smell Like Teen Spirit.
As I have read the words and praises of many sites so far that have heard the album, I am still waiting for that moment to arise where I shout to the heavens and announce that R.E.M. has once again returned to dominate rock and roll.  We are 1/3 through this album right now and so far I have been wholly underwhelmed. It’s an album that appears it will dominate a healthy amount of dust on my CD shelf or lack of plays on my iTunes.
Whether that is a symptom of the band, myself or a little bit of both, I feel as if I am being lied to. When you feel like you are being lied to there is quite a bit of soul-searching involved which you begin to question why you are doing what you are doing in the first place. I guess you can say that the site’s mission was always a flawed one at that. . . one based on live recordings with a healthy dose of perspective of a Gen X’er who was ruined by the great music R.E.M. released in the 80’s and 90’s. But making comments about this song is like kicking around the Handicapped.
My wife brought up a tune by the band Arcade Fire, ('Suburban War' if you are curious) which for all accounts is very R.E.M.-ish in it’s structure with the jangly guitar chords and one of my favorite songs from this album. The album, ‘The Suburbs’ is exactly what I would want out of a Pop Album, with lyrics and music both meaningful and catchy. ‘Mine Smell Like Honey’ reminds her of a song that should be on the show ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and to be honest I cannot agree with her more. There is nothing all that complicated about the song, very simple and straightforward. Win Butler's singing on it is not over the top, and the jangly guitar just bleeds something that Peter Buck dreams in his sleep. But if you place this song and 'Mine Smell Like Honey' in front of me, I pick 'Suburban War' every time. At the same time you can take any four songs you want off Arcade Fire's 'The Suburbs' and put them up against the 4 songs on this album and I take Arcade Fire every time. There is no comparison. Arcade Fire is at a completely different league than R.E.M. is right now. And the question is, is why am I wasting my time worrying about a band putting out second-rate music when there are lots of bands like Arcade Fire out there?  

R.E.M. circa 2010 has no soul, which is why in the 80’s the million or so jangly bands could not just replicate their sound because for what it’s worth, there was that uniqueness about them.  Even in the 90’s each of the albums was slightly off so they never sounded “Mainstream”.  
For you at home players and Mr. Matty, try this: give me 3 singles from the 80s and 90s which are worse than this one? I cannot find one.  We are not even talking same ballpark.
We are being sold the line that this is R.E.M.’s classic sound with the Millsy background vocals, hooks, and whatnot but I really am trying to find it. This is not classic but boring. I sat around for days trying to actually come up with words to describe “Nothing”.  I guess that is the first question about whether a song moves you is that you should feel something regarding it.  Anything!?!
What I find even more impressive is that someone decided America was the perfect place to release this disposable song to the masses.  I am not sure how I feel about this, if it’s not a slight insult to American Rock Fans everywhere.
I have questioned whether I still wanted to write about “Nothing” as if this was some Seinfeld routine and I am tired of listening to apologists whine about their supposed brilliance and that they deserve a 17th chance or that it’s all Stipe’s fault for smoking (aka to you young kids out there starting a band, don’t smoke cause your 14th record is gonna suck cause you won’t be able to sing on it).
What do you think R.E.M. fan retirement is like? Do you just post old YouTube videos on Facebook and listen to your Facebook friends throw random quotes like “Amber Waves of Gain” in their status updates and pine for a more simple time in your life when your favorite rock and roll band’s drummer had a unibrow and your favorite band’s lead singer had hair? Do you pull out Murmur and blast it out of the car while you are on you way to get your prostate checked up on?
Of course there is rumor that Uberlin is the hit song on the record, and a second rumor that it will be released next week so I am writing this in hopes that Uberlin throws a life preserver to this below average album.  However, I am not sure what happens if Uberlin turns out to be more hype than hope.  Do I write the eulogy? Do I start writing letters to you about how the new songs are without listening to them? Do I start writing about other bands here, ignoring the Rapid Eye Movement’s?
So that is about the size of it. Outside of handcuffing me and putting this song on repeat is the only way that you would make me listen to this song.  I will be a sport, however, and allow you to demonstrate your best Ricky Gervais impression and tear me to shreds.

Open Hearted Letter to Matthew 'Madloop' Marrone Ctd.

Matthew Bologne's decided to respond to my comments which you may read here
In choosing to comment on some of his thoughts Matthew stated: 
As for the lyrical reference to Houston, well, I would agree with you wholeheartedly if it weren't for the simple fact that the lyrical reference actually works here. It revisits a character and a time, updating a memorable phrase with its aftermath. That's very different from simply adding "part two!" to the lyrics
I have no problem with the idea of a song being used showing the aftermath of a previous song or being a follow-up if we are talking about an album where we have a linear progression from start to finish, i.e. your typical rock opera for example. 
But now we are jumping from album to album bringing Fred and Wilma back from Accelerate into this new album with the previous album's context in mind.  What will the next album speak about? The BP Oil Spill?
Of course I am writing this with not a full context of 'Claps Into Now"  which of course the pinheads will shun me for even expressing my opinion. 
And lets not forget, the R.E.M. conspiracy theorists out there will claim that all the albums are interconnected, so who knows.

Oh My Heart and B-Sides for Mine Smell Like Honey

Before I start pontificating about the new song(s) that were discovered on the world wide web today I thought I would offer them here for all my web viewing friends the links to those songs.
First, it's NPR's All Songs Considered which provided a nice stream of 'Oh My Heart' the latest song to make it into public viewing from 'Collapse Into Now'.
Second, it would be a nice 30 second sample of the first single from the album, Mine Smell Like Honey, which can be found on Amazon.
Third, it would be the first b-sides from Mine Smell Like Honey that can be found on Noi Tanmer (REM Nation backwards) which happen to be 'A Town Called Armadillo' and 'Zullu'. (Hat Tip to Chris Sikich).
UPDATE: The B-Sides claimed in this post turned out to be a hoax. My apologizes for this unacceptable error.

It Happened Today, Ctd

Mr. Marrone released his response.
If you are still expecting R.E.M. to release flawless A-1 quality work, essential not only within their own catalogue but, by extension, within the rock music canon, you are, my friend, delusional.

No, Discoverer and It Happened Today are not mind-blowing works of pure genious. But they're halfway decent, which gives them a slight edge on George Harrison's highly acclaimed Cloud Nine album, despite the classic first single, I've Got My Mind Set On You, which admittedly, set the world on fire. And that gem of a record came out a mere 25 years after the Beatles first unleashed Please, Please Me unto the world.
And Leonard Cohen released ‘I’m Your Man’ 21 years and The Future, almost 25 years after his first album was released.  Bob Dylan’s ‘Love and Theft’ came out almost 40 years after his first album.  What is your point?
At what point do you say goodbye and not buy tickets for the tour, the collecting of the singles, the countdown of the album, .etc, a thing of the past, and respect the older work of R.E.M. and move on? 
I’ve done the tour thing several times. I have watched Stipe shimmy up onstage but at what point do I have to hang it up? If they tour this time around do I go? At this point, probably not.
You are incorrect if you think that I am expecting a perfect album but at the same time the band itself set some pretty high standards and I am biased, I am not objective. I can take either one of those songs released in the last couple days and immediately compare it to the entire back catalog, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses on display. Most of all I am trying to gain something from it, gain something that makes me want to listen to the song over and over and over again and not just give the band a polite “Golf Clap”.
I question whether this blog will still be relevant in three months; if I shut the entire thing down in respect to the band that I remembered if the album’s not up to snuff.
Although I do promise you that if that day were to happen the title of the last story should be “That’s It’s I’m Shutting Down Remring”.

Dear Matty . . . 'It Happened Today'

Besides his first love in all of  the world, that being Derek Jeter, Matthew Marrone spends his spare moments writing poetry about Michael Stipe and sending me naked pictures of himself. He has taken a break from both of these activities to engage in a conversation on the next R.E.M. album.

Before you read the following post, I would suggest you go back an reread Mattymarrone’s pedestrian comments on Discoverer as well as his newfound skills of working with jpegs. My favorite part was when he spelled my last name with 1 N and thus made me Jewish. 

Secondly, I would suggest you listen to It Happened Today. 

Third, I would suggest you watch the Collapse into Now Trailer. Does anyone know if this is going to be in 3D? Has anyone listened to this 3D Glasses?

For those that are keeping up with this back and forth Mr. Marrone decided to show off his photoshop skills by defacing American Currency as well as writing some comments to that effect.  Below is my response to that as well as some commentary about today’s news.



Dearest Matthias the Drunk,


Before I get onto the comments regarding your post I first wanted to thank you for the invitation to your ‘Collapse Into Now’ Record Release Party that you were going to have. Unfortunately, I have other plans but was looking forward to various games and contests such as the Collapse into Now Circle Jerk contest. It sounded like a worthwhile endeavor to be sure and can forward you in the right direction if you are looking for a group of fans that just want to get their photos taken with the band.


I am appreciating this venture so far, I have to admit on this snowy night in Chicago, picturing you behind your computer screen wrapped up in your Snuggie and drinking a pina colada singing “Hip Hip Hooray”. (Note to readers: Matthew actually does have a snuggie).


However, while you were so busy photoshopping some awesome pics of Peter Buck on the dollar bill you pretty much proved my point that the only thing that we should be giving the band this holiday season is wrinkle cream.


I do not accept in any manner this belief that our senior citizens need our pity, that rock and roll is a young persons game, that older artists still cannot make great records.  It’s sorta like saying that after Coca-Cola changed their formula to “New Coke” that we should be grateful that we have it at all.  However, we may disagree on this subject it was only 1 song, a mere fleshwound on the entire album.


Today we are graced with a couple items in our stockings. First was the release of ‘It Happened Today’, the second song to be released, this being part of a special iTunes promo.


I would argue that this song would have sucked if not for the integral parts that Eddie Vedder added.  Let’s be honest that Vedder pretty much got this gig so that he would get in on the free R.E.M. lunch they were offering. I might give the band a break, and chalk this up to the fact that an eager press picked up on some of the guest list on this album and it was improperly inflated but the fact of the matter is that the trailer is using Eddie Vedders name as a special guest on this song. 


Musicwise, this is reminiscent of that Green to Automatic era R.E.M. That sorta like gentle pop song written perfectly for Stipe to shine on. In terms of music this excited me more than ‘Discoverer’, not that I am eager for a certain sound, rather just thought it felt better in the end.


I thought that Michael sounded better on this one than on ‘Discoverer’. He sounded more himself, more natural and somehow I think that uniqueness of his voice should be something of a tool rather than his ever growing tendency to shout through the songs like on Discoverer.


Lyricwise, I am just not feeling it yet. The song’s length is about 3:48 and about 80 seconds into the song or less than 1/3 of the way there we are in on the All-Star Jam harmony section of the song. Harmonies do not work for the sake of the harmony, but the buildup before.


Which leads me to the introduction of Collapse Into Now the trailer. Trailers are great for compacting, all the hooks, all the kick-ass moments into a 2 minute trailer. I typically do not see a movie based on a trailer and have found this silly venture of putting 10-15 second clips out another ridiculous record company venture.  I have yet to buy an album this year based on any similar marketing scheme.  It would almost be as if some boss in the marketing office needs to feel important and I say give them hell. I mean the person that put the video together is obviously skilled at Final Cut Pro and I bet they were giving themselves a bunch of high fives in the Warner Bros. Offices. I hear that if you email WBR they will send you a package of the cellophane that they will use to wrap ‘Collapse Into Now’. I figured that maybe you would appreciate that since you get all hot and bothered on record release day.


However, back to my original thoughts was that you need to give a bad record three months of publicity to sell it, a good record sells itself in less than a month. 


But I am not sitting here in a Snuggie staring at Michael Stipe’s ass.








A Special Comment: Collapsing into My Fandom

I read the term ‘Alt-Rock Godfathers’ when discussing R.E.M. in a recent article about their new album “Collapse into Now”  (available Spring 2011) that made me want to reach for my journal and start keeping tabs on all the different descriptions this band of 30 plus years has encountered. Maybe I have fun with how R.E.M. is deemed in the 21st century with their legacy and how it is viewed in the music community. I also think you learn a little bit by what people are saying and how it is described. 
It is funny that 12 years ago, their first album without Bill Berry (Up) was released to little fanfare, although it turns out this album still sits among my favorites of theirs without the man behind the drum kit. The album was muddy and disjointed, and at the same time very endearing, like Fables of the Reconstruction. It saw a band in turmoil stop the ‘Bandwagon’ on a dime and come out with an album that was not typical ‘R.E.M.’ Drumkits? They worked. Airportman? Great opening track. Falls to Climb? Yes, Peter was right that the mandolin version of this song was not as good. It's an album about feeling lost and easily succeeds in proving it's point.
The last 12 years have focused from the fans perspective of coming out with that “Great R.E.M. Album”, the kind they made in the 80s or 90s that cemented them on top of the yearly lists for best albums as if the name R.E.M. had just been permanently etched up there.  I seem to read or begin conversation like “I love R.E.M but the last 10 years have been pretty dull.”
Somewhere along the way they lost themselves. Maybe when they write their stories about their lives they will not look directly inward but blame a bad turn, or maybe it was just the environment in general.
And so we are focused on another album coming up this spring and fans like myself have to start worrying about whether it is something that I will be wearing out my iPod with or something that will collect electron dust in the back of iTunes.
As I sit here and write this I collectively say to myself that I care.  I have cared enough to say when something sucks, when something is not quite right, when something becomes pedestrian and I ache to listen to Murmur or Lifes Rich Pageant because well, they just simply rocked.
Of course, I am just like any other selfish fan out there, sorta playing the Tea Party role. It is all about “Me”.  Of course I am being a bit facetious but the fact of the matter remains that I want them to come out with the Great American Rock and Roll album once again for my own pleasures.  The rest, as they say, will sort itself out.
I admit it is a difficult task as my own bias is my worst enemy. Comparing any new album to the likes of Murmur is a huge monkey on your back.
If you have not heard already from the articles in both Spin and Rolling Stone is that the new R.E.M. album will feature guest vocals from Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith and Peaches. At the outset of hearing this news I feel much more confident that there is not a rapper on this album, something that just did not mesh right with the sound that R.E.M. was making.
The interesting feature of some of their choices is that they chose the Punk Godmother in Smith and protégé in Eddie Vedder, a symbolic shout out that yes, the artists that paved the way for today’s buzz clips are trying to once again be the buzz.
They have chosen to change the way that they write music.  I think in the process of making music, they got lost.  It became too predictable and too mundane. Songs like ‘How the West Was Won and Where it Got Us’ was a spur of the moment creation in the studio and a great track at that. This process of Peter and Mike writing songs and having Michael listen to the instrumentals and write tracks seemed to run its course. Something had to break with the process and the failures of ‘Around the Sun’ and what we see is a band that is not trying to “Mail It In” as they would say but work against their own stubbornness and figure out the solution in a different manner, one where they might not actually see the end in sight. And I admit that might be a scary scenario at times but it is also this tension, which I believe creates that element of surprise.
But lets face it, for a band like R.E.M. to make another classic R.E.M. album to match something like Automatic or Murmur creates a relevance for them that is not matched much in the music business today. 
In tweeting with Jordan (, she still has that desire to see the band live a couple more times before they hang it up.  Obviously there is a true ethereal effect of seeing a band live that will attract any ‘Music Junkie’ , especially one that lives in Athens.  
Conversely, I have argued to the latter that a classic album will be more enduring for their legacy than another tour.  
I have had this discussion as well in with others regarding bands of the 80’s and 90’s can still rake in the ticket sales with tours. There will always be a base of fans that will want to see R.E.M. live and hear the hits. There are very few bands/artists, however, that can claim classic albums in three decades.  Consider for a moment that ‘Collapse into Now’ hitting 9.2 on the Pitchfork scale or having a score of 87 on Metacritic.
Before we all start hyperventilating and calling this the album of 2011, I just point out the odds that great albums don’t grow on trees.  But as a fan this is what I hope for.   A show is a 2-hour live experience.  An album is an experience that can become part of your life.

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