Monday, January 03, 2011

It Happened Today

Song: It Happened Today
Artist: R.E.M.
Album: Collapse into Now

After two very mediocre and one truly terrible album in a row, the days of waiting with baited breathe for the new R.E.M. album are sadly gone.  And while it's difficult for such a former hardcore fan to say, let alone write down, it's now been well over ten years since the band put out a truly amazing album. (In my opinion; 1996's "New Adventures in Hi-Fi.")

Although the band did turn the car around after the disaster that was "Around the Sun" and released the raw and "R.E.M.-is-exciting-again "Accelerator" in 2008.  I did really like that record, and yet... I didn't listen to it all that much.  It was a return to form for sure, but didn't grab me and shake me to the core like the R.E.M. of the past. Like Weezer, maybe it's just time to forget what's come before  and try to get as much out of the new material as you can. (And ten years ago I would have seriously scoffed at placing those bands anywhere close to each other.)

But grumpy expectations aside, R.E.M. are releasing their fifteen album in March, "Collapse into Now."  It is once again produced by "Accelerate's" Jacknife Lee, recorded in Berlin, Nashville, and New Orleans, the band has called the album "expansive" and not tied into a particular sound or direction.

I've heard two tracks thus far; opener "Discoverer" which sounds like it could have been pulled from "Accelerate," a bristling guitar rocker layered with Michael Stipe's talk-singing and a chorus that simply repeats the title.  It's very R.E.M.-ish and upon repeated listens, I must say that I'm digging it.  Track 5 from the album, "It Happened Today" featuring Eddie Vedder and Joel Gibb sounds a bit like it was written from the "Up" period though isn't electronic in sound.  Actually, it sounds like it was from "Up" played live. (Despite that album being a disappointment, I saw that tour and they never sounded better... with the new songs sounding great live despite being a bit limp recorded.)

These are two good songs, which points me to believe that we don't have another "Around the Sun" on our hands, and though they may not have the bite of say "Drive," "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" or even recent singles "The Great Beyond" or "Imitation of Life." (Not to mention their earlier material,)   with collaborations from Patti Smith, Peaches, and Lenny Kaye, "Collapse Into Now" will certainly be worth the time to check out.

You can get "Discoverer" for free if you go to the band's official website.


It Happened Today


Supernatural Superserious (forgot how much I liked this single from "Accelerator")

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