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Thread: R.E.M.

  1. #1
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    Default R.E.M.

    uh oh! pour your lumpen scorn on me!

    any closet fans? people have nice things to say about husker du and the smiths - but i love the early REM as much as either of those bands.

    can't think of a group which so destroyed its reputation by not giving up sooner. they should have stopped when bill "eyebrows" berry bowed out.

    the first i bought was life's rich pageant ideally they should have stopped after Document - but at the time i also got Green and Out of Time. then i was sucked into acid house.

    murmur and reckoning especially important to me. very romantic and teen-mysterious.

    i've never heard automatic for the people - which strangely (?) people rave about.

    jon dale is also a fan - so there!

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  3. #2
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    REM - the somewhat bearable U2.

    Gotta admit I like some songs, and connect teenage memories with them, since they had a great run in '91 and '92, when I was starting to get interested in (pop)music. However I couldn't name or remember any of their songs past '92, Apparently they kept on making music since they got featured in the music mags I kept reading.

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    Fables is the American Pornography

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    Best trad rock band there ever was. Love the old weird REM of Fables and Murmur. Buck used to be my guitar hero, pretty but played with an underlying violence that puts him way above the bland jangle of Johnny Marr. Automatic For the People isn't the kinda thing I'd get much enjoyment from today but I remember thinking it was their last good LP. And man, that's quite a run.

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    the later big hits were still inescapable on alt rock radio when I was a preteen, on which basis I predictably wrote them off

    heard the Chronic Town EP years later right when I was starting to listening to music besides hardcore, was surprised to really like it

    still think it's pretty good. they have some other moments, Radio Free Europe etc. basically I like them OK when they're doing fast jangle, otherwise it can really drag on.

    there's just so many other bands from the same period doing similar things but more interesting + better tho

    for Athens I rate Pylon + B-52's (Mesopotamia, Private Idaho, 52 Girls, etc) way higher, for contemporary jangle I'd rather have The Feelies, Orange Juice, the MPLS bands, etc

    tbf I might feel different if I'd experienced them in the moment

    Quote Originally Posted by Woebot View Post
    teen-mysterious
    he was definitely a pioneer of mumble singing, + cryptic lyrics, can see how teenage/college heads in the 80s would obsess over them

    also agree that the guy was a cool guitar player. in re him + Marr, Buck actually reminds me of James Honeyman-Scott way more than ultra-Pretenders fan Marr.

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    also the rest of the radio hits I cannot stand but for whatever reason I have a soft spot for Orange Crush

    also Crowely's comparison is pretty good, i.e. REM to U.S. 80s indie rock as The Cure is to goth

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    Murmur is magical and mystical - especially "9-9" - and the one after really good - but very quickly they became the definition of alt-stodge

    notwithstanding some great singles along the way

    can't imagine ever feeling like playing Green or Fables or Pageant or Document again

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    Quote Originally Posted by blissblogger View Post
    can't imagine ever feeling like playing Green or Fables or Pageant or Document again
    maybe not green. i'd agree with you there but that's a major label crossover thing.

    fables and document are simply southern rock. on IRS. as good as anything creedence ever did.

    Quote Originally Posted by padraig (us)
    for Athens I rate Pylon + B-52's (Mesopotamia, Private Idaho, 52 Girls, etc) way higher, for contemporary jangle I'd rather have The Feelies, Orange Juice, the MPLS bands, etc
    yeah i like all those acts. very hip. but they aren't really *about* emotional connection in the way R.E.M. were. i'd find it hard to really care about them so much.

    the U2 comparison is definitely correct - they both essay music as a spiritual communion. they're exploring ecstatic group-mind states. the crowd as collective consciousness. easy to disparage from a bohemian perspective.

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    I think for those of us who grew up when REM arrived on the scene it's a bit different - I associate them with small gigs in Dunstable and Stevenage and being 16. the idea that they would amount to much other than minor indie success would have been laughable back then
    The first few albums are great - still play them and am reminded of how inventive Buck's playing is and how Stipe's vocals and lyrics are unassertive, more 'surrender' than 'will' which sounded great at the time against some of the more shiny production and bombast we were accustomed to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woebot View Post

    the U2 comparison is definitely correct - they both essay music as a spiritual communion. they're exploring ecstatic group-mind states. the crowd as collective consciousness. easy to disparage from a bohemian perspective.
    The other band in that category would be The Waterboys - those three albums (and especially This Is The Sea and The Big Music) are very much aiming for that vibe.

    in many ways I think they got closer than most - especially live where Mike Scott seemed to channel a Van Morrison like mysticism trance of ecstatic whooping and delirium as the music possessed him (and by association, us) . ( i know for many Dissensus types that last sentence will have people reaching for the sick bags)

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    oldster alert: i saw REM in 1981 at maxwell's, where the capacity is about 120 people. it was their first trip up to play the nyc area, when all they had out was the "radio free europe" 45 on hib-tone. i recall telling a friend the band as ok but the singer was kind of annoying.

    i don't think i ever saw them again, still own and like "murmur" and "document" (although haven't played them it decades).

    oh, and i met stipe about 10 years ago at the baby shower of a brooklyn friend who used to be the band's stylist. he was polite but not very talkative.

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    I used to love the early stuff - Chronic Town is an oddly, almost unaccountably magical record - but went right off them after watching a band documentary, having previously avoided hearing them talk. Unappealing people with a bizarrely inflated sense of their own importance in the musical path of the '80s and little knowledge of what made them great for a while, although maybe that was just Michael Stipe to be fair.

    Happily, listening to the 1991 Best Of now, I can separate the music and the men once more.

    Radio Song is one of the weirder additions to the rap-rock canon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woebot View Post
    yeah i like all those acts. very hip. but they aren't really *about* emotional connection in the way R.E.M. were. i'd find it hard to really care about them so much.
    Orange Juice were definitely about emotional connection a lot of the time; gorgeously so, albeit with added archness. Which reminds me that I still haven't watched the documentary Edwyn Collins' recovery: ("After suffering a stroke in 2005, former Orange Juice frontman Edwyn Collins was able to say only four things: “yes”, “no”, “Grace Maxwell” [his wife’s name] and “the possibilities are endless”).

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    Quote Originally Posted by jenks View Post
    I think for those of us who grew up when REM arrived on the scene it's a bit different
    that is what I was saying - I see the obvious appeal to a certain kind of head at the right age to form those intense emotional connections

    I'm 15+ years too young for U.S. college rock - R.E.M., Camper Van Beethoven, etc - so I don't have that formative nostalgia

    in any case I don't believe in pouring scorn on anyone's tastes. like what you like. besides, I'm an avowed fan of The Cure, can't get more middlebrow than that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woebot View Post
    but they aren't really *about* emotional connection in the way R.E.M. were
    this I have to take issue with tho

    not just Orange Juice, but Hüsker Dü, The Replacements - hard to say these bands weren't about emotional connection. if anything actually the MPLS bands were significantly more raw on that front than R.E.M., w/o Stipe's kinda affected mumbling distance. also emotional connection sounds like it's headed to a kinda rockist thing about sincerity? not that that's bad or wrong, just noting. like, Gus Van Sant chose the Private Idaho metaphor from B-52's to make by any account a deeply emotional film about loneliness, yearning, etc.

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