Tag Archives: R.E.M

R.E.M release final single

21 Oct

and it’s the best thing they’ve done in years – 8 years to be exact (I loved ‘Leaving New York’!) You can listen to ‘Back Where We Belong’ over at Rolling Stone.


Its the end of R.E.M as we know it…

22 Sep

…and I feel fine.

Review Roundup Part 2

3 Mar

‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ by Beady Eye

“Their best album since Morning Glory” – this is a phrase that got used in every review of every oasis album ever and unfortunatly it was never, ever even close to the truth. So far I’ve only seen one review that has used this phrase in conjunction with ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ which may tell you all you need to know about the album. In fairness Beady Eye are an easy target and ‘Still Speeding’ is actually a lot better than I would have expected – Yes at times it’s a bland, boring, riff driven slog but it is a lot lighter and easier to get through than many Oasis albums. There are even some surprises; ‘Millionaire’ has a great poppy melody, ‘Bring the Light’ sees Liam doing a rather good job impersonating Jerry Lee Lewis rather than John Lennon and ‘For Anyone’ successfully recaptures the breezy, happy vibe of ‘Songbird.’ ‘Killing For a Dream’ even comes close to matching a Noel Gallagher big ballad and if the brother notable by his absence had actually contributed a few songs (i.e if this were an Oasis album) then I have no doubt it really would have been their best since ‘Morning Glory’  because Liam has never been on better form. So yeah, Oasis haters will still find a lot to hate and Oasis lovers will find a lot to love – personally I’m just pleasantly surprised that I really quite like it.


Wounded Rhymes by Lykke Li

‘Wounded Rhymes’ is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a wounded album – just look at that grey, miserable cover for starters. About half of these tracks are too dark and damaged for me, at times it just isn’t a pleasurable listen, and usually the pain is so abstract that Lykke is hard to relate to – I’m still a bit puzzled as to why she’s so upset. At times she does connect, and these moments arrive when she strips the songs of their bombast and melodrama, for example on the excellent ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ and ‘Unrequited Love’. These two songs in particular are vastly, vastly superior to almost evetything else on the album and whilst they certainly make this a worthwhile listen they can’t make it a great record. There is a great album in here trying to get out but ‘Wounded Rhymes’ is too much of a rollercoaster – when it’s good it’s amazing and when it’s bad it’s a morbid record to listen to. Mostly though it’s somewhere in between, promising but ever so slightly unsatisfying.


Collapse Into Now by R.E.M

Isn’t it a bit sad that we’ve got to the stage where a new R.E.M album can pass most people by? I remember the days when a new R.E.M release was an event; even as a 13 year old I noticed the anticipation for ‘Around the Sun’ and I remember them performing ‘Leaving New York’ on top of the pops and headlining Glastonbury. Of course that album was the first one  that wasn’t worthy of the anticipation, it was just an anticlimax. And so 7 or 8 years later we are in a situation where ‘Collapse into Now’ is being greeted with a collective “so what”. This album is neither a return to old form or a total failure, It’s an accomplished, well played, well produced album but it’s been made by a band with nothing left to prove, nothing left to gain and nothing left to say. I’m sorry to say it but there really isn’t anything to recommend about this; I will love R.E.M for what they’ve done in the past but maybe it’s time to call it quits because this is a boring album and R.E.M have never been boring before.


Help for Haiti

2 Feb

Rock stars love to be seen doing something for charity. Cynical? Perhaps, but also very true. And so it is that two new charity singles are being released to benifit Haiti.

The UK will be releasing ‘Everybody Hurts’, a cover of the R.E.M song featuring the likes of Take That, Robbie Williams, Kylie Minouge, Leona Lewis, Westlife and Cheryl Cole. I don’t really care what their motives are for releasing the song, if it does well and raises bags of money then I can’t complain – even if Simon Cowell completely misunderstood the meaning of the song, even if it is the least cohesive sing along in history, even if it’s as corny as a Vanila Ice song, even if it hurts my ears.

The USA meanwhile will be re-releasing the Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie song ‘We Are The World’ with a new cast of singers and actors. It’s a bizarre and completely random list of stars, you have the likes of Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Pink, Miley Cyrus, Akon and Usher singing with old timers like Brian Wilson and Al Jardine of The Beach Boys, Tony Bennet and Celine Dion. At least the song is entirely appropriate for the cause, and again you can’t really complain, Haiti needs all the help it can get.

Below is ‘Everybody Hurts’

R.E.M ‘Reckoning’ – Classic Album Review

19 Aug

What is R.E.M’s best album? some may say their stunning debut ‘Murmur’, that did for American music what The Smith’s debut did for British music in the 80’s. Their slightly later, more sophisticated triumph ‘Document’ might also get a shout for being the album that introduced them to a larger audience whilst staying true to their indie sound. Their major label successes ‘Out of Time’ and ‘Automatic for the People’ are also recognized as classics, abeit shinier, happier classics.

My choice however (if I had to choose) would be their second album, ‘Reckoning’, and luckily it’s just been re-released.  It came out shortly after Murmur, and it’s certainly in the same vein, though more polished, slightly more cohesive, slightly more enjoyable. It also includes my favourite ever R.E.M track ‘Don’t go Back To Rocksvile’ which demonstrates a looser, softer sound that the band would come to call their own in the 90’s. The Song’s country tinge also shows the band’s new varied sound that they would go on to develop. The lyrics here are also magnificent. The song’s story is touching and yet cryptic as if you are veiwing the scene through a foggy window. Yet it is a lot clearer and more listenable than their debut’s lyrics which were so hard to understand that there was little point trying. The mix here is a lot better which helps (there is a meatier, more vibrant sound) but the lyrics throughout are generally a lot better.

It kicks of with one of the best opening sides I can think of. First the blurry, out of sync pop of Harborcoat, then the equally dynamic, equally mysterious 7 Chinese Bros. These two tracks bristle with energy and magic but the next couple of songs demonstrate their newly found confidence; The confidence to slow down and let the listener hear Stipe’s wonderful lyrics. ‘So Central Rain’ is built around the simple refrain of ‘I’m sorry’ and it’s as moving as any other song in the band’s back catalogue.  The comes ‘Pretty Persuasion’, which is just as touching as So Central rain and just as crazy as Harborcoat, it is another classic. The side ends with the more subdued and Tender ‘Time after time’. The Indian leanings here point to the band’s love of 60’s music (particuarly The Byrds and The Zombies), something that can also be heard in the tingling Rickenbackers heard throughout the album.

The Second side clearly isn’t as good as the first side (how could it be) but it is the more varied and perhaps interesting side. ‘Camera’ is the most touching song on the album (about their recently departed friend, a photographer) whilst ‘Second Guessing’ keeps the pace at a frantic post Punk level.  The final song, ‘Little America’ sends the listener away convinced they have just heard one of the most important albums of the 80’s – and they would be right. Today Reckoning still sounds as fresh, as vital, as groundbreaking as it ever did. The recently released deluxe edition makes it even more vibrant. The mix is brought to life and the packaging is typically brilliant. ‘Reckoning’s’ legacy is now guaranteed.