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Fables of the Reconstruction 25th Anniversary Release Information

I will admit to listening to Fables a couple times today with the announcement of the Fables reissue. Of course, I have some feelings regarding this announcement and the subsequent “Extra Material” that is on the second disc.  However, for the time being we can contemplate the release.
 
The album, due out on July 13th will offer both the original remastered album plus a second CD of Demos that were recorded in Athens prior to their recording sessions in England with Joe Boyd.
 
 
CD1 (original album):
 
'Feeling Gravity's Pull'
'Maps and Legends'
'Driver 8'
'Life And How To Live It'
'Old Man Kensey'
'Can't Get There From Here'
'Green Grow The Rushes'
'Kohoutek'
'Auctioneer (Another Engine)'
'Good Advices'
'Wendell Gee'
 
CD2 (The Athens Demos):
 
'Auctioneer (Another Engine)'
'Bandwagon'
'Can't Get There From Here'
'Driver 8'
'Feeling Gravity's Pull'
'Good Advices'
'Green Grow The Rushes'
'Hyena'
'Kohoutek'
'Life And How To Live It'
'Maps and Legends'
'Old Man Kensey'
'Throw Those Trolls Away'
'Wendell Gee'

 

A Secret Meeting within the Basement of the National's Brain





Whenever writing wandering diatribes about a band's significance in my life, I often get lost during the way, need a life preserver from the audience to allow myself to get rescued from the ultimate belief that music has a way of sucking us into that wormhole into the alternate universe, aka “The Flipside”.

This trip to the Flipside is to discuss the National, a band that I believe is offering that same mixture of ‘Lyrics’ and ‘Songwriting’ that is more than just putting music onto an album and blares it from the top of iTunes. Instead it helps write the story of your life.

And after having a Foreigner-off with my wife as we lay in bed one night, I realize that I am not the most knowledgeable about lyrics. This might be due to the fact that I probably get lost more in the music and do not play as close of an attention to what the lyrics are, there are times after listening to the music ad nauseum that I start to begin the breakdown of the music. For me it’ s always been about images and sights. I never liked watching other peoples “Images” aka MTV instead preferred the idea of looking out at the world encased in my ear buds and walking at a brisk pace examining it while I think of the meaning behind while I hear Matt Beringer say “It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders”.

The National have reached that level of music-listening where I can honestly say that I have had plenty moments where I have begun to question more specifically what the music might mean to me.

The National offer the 80’s version of R.E.M., they offer up the politics of U2 without the blatant flag waving of Bono. They offer up the folklore of Jeff Tweedy of Wilco without being too riddled with band members getting kicked out every couple years. They offer the intimacy of Coldplay without being Chris Martin-annoying. While they borrow from several of those formulas and then some they are their own unique presence. They keep the egos in the recording studio and not on the live stage. They subconsciously take over your music-listening without really even trying until one day you realize, “Oh Shit, I have been listening to this band quite a bit!”

SECRET MEETING

“And so and now I'm sorry I missed you, I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain” – The National

This phrase is so very simple and yet provides a hokey eloquence at the same time. Great lyricists invoke not just the idea of providing a phrase or words but invoking something more on the listener. And while if you are reading this phrase, what do you feel?

I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain

 

I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain

I guess for me that secret meeting within the ‘Basement of my Brain’ would be much different than your own, most likely having a hefty stack of CDs that are unsorted, a couple of skin magazines and some old Horror DVDs with a couple Baseball posters hung for posterity.  Point is that we would all have that space that we can go to where we can throw all the useless/useful junk in our lives. Yet the way the phrase is described, “And so and now I’m sorry I missed you  . . . .” i.e. please excuse my bad behavior while I stare off into space and I truly have one of these true “Gaping” stares. My basement not only has plenty of clutter but a crawlspace and this awful sulfuric rotten egg smell.

While the song’s protagonist might relay a certain level of discomfort in public “I think this place is full of spies,” my own feelings on the matter is that the listener does not really need to take this line blatantly because at the same time, it’s a level of a friend/lover also hiding or shielding the protagonist: I know you put in the hours to keep me in sunglasses.

It is essentially a song about awkwardness and being that it’s a nice pop song on top of this, for those of us that sometimes feel as if we are from the Island of Misfit Toys, you can understand our like for said song.

Lyrics have a way of sometimes feeling corny or uneasy but the opening track to The National’s ‘Alligator’ is drives the idea of how to bring powerful lyrics and a rock sound that sounds fresh rather than just the next 2 bit rock band.

They are also the first band in my eyes since Wilco to truly challenge the R.E.M. construct for writing albums rather than singles; writing songs that challenge and engage the listener within the pop construct. While bands such as Radiohead provide a much more inventive music backdrop, the National’s sound feels very familiar without being corny.

And while Thom Yorke has some clever phrases, they are not the types of phrases that stick with you such as Beringer’s in the same manner that Stipe’s riddled lyrics from Murmur often were a couple of words and a cloud of dust.

I have often spoke of my love for R.E.M. and one of the things that Matt Beringer does in the above is invoking the listener, in this case to understand, uniquely, this endeavor of burying themselves in their own thoughts.  While the listener is essentially trying to find out what Beringer is referencing, the opposite happens whereby I am more trying to figure out what I am taking from the song.

How am I feeling about it? What awkwardness do I portray or what makes me feel like the place is full of spies (paranoid).

SO FAR AROUND THE BEND

The first time I listened to The National, I felt it was solid but not spectacular, i.e. I was not blown away and I have a feeling there were other bands that were taking my time. Of course this was my similar response to listening to R.E.M.’s ‘Fables of the Reconstruction’ back in the 80s. It was an album that I took phrases “Amber Waves of Gain”, “Maybe these maps and legends been misunderstood”, “Take this nickel make a dime” or “When you meet a stranger look at their shoes”.

Of course, anyone that listens to music should understand that our music tastes often change. Scan through your music from 1992 and ask yourself how many of those albums are still being played at regular intervals. What records of those have you fallen out of love with, and what others have gained significance since that time?

For me the National were one of those bands that made the lists of many fans of music. Year-end, best of, what are you listening to in the car, etc. Often repetitive, their name showed up more than a handful of times that I had to finally go out of my way to find out what all the fuss was about.  Their success in my eyes snuck up on me a little bit until I realized one day that they were a true talent.

On the surface they might not look like much but woven within the constructs of a pop song it provides clarity to the listener that gives a line like that power. Rock music is the sum of all it’s parts, rhythm, melody and lyrics that truly give something much more than just a passing lyric to remember.

So while it would be clever to appreciate Matt Beringer the lead singer of the National solely for the songs, we cannot forget the twin brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner on guitar and brothers Bryan and Scott Devenorf, who play Drums and Bass respectively. Lyrics, to be honest with you, really mean shit without some true genius musicianship.

And so you can understand the connection between these great bands and also understand Michael Stipe’s enthusiasm for wanting them to tour with R.E.M. on their ‘Accelerate’ tour.

When he took Mike Mills to see the band live, he was equally impressed.

"The National are real," he says. "I first saw them in London a few years ago, and they reminded me of REM in our earlier days. We all felt that they would be a good match-up for us on tour, and we were right”

THE GREAT WHITE HOPE

Matt Beringer’s lyrical stylings were not about weaving stories but weaving subconscious ideas and thoughts, which often made me, ponder or ask additional questions while listening to them.

As I moved on through ‘Alligator’, other songs made their way to the forefront. “Looking for Astronauts” paints two different pictures.  And while the song builds on these two ideas “Something to cry for and something to hunt” but weaves this premise with lines like “you know you have a permanent place of this medium-sized American heart”. 

As I moved on, I found myself going back to ‘Alligator’ over and over again and could consider it one of the albums over the last 5 years that is played pretty constantly.  Of course there is one song that took on a different meaning several years after it’s release and that was “Mr. November”, which was a song that the band dedicated to Barack Obama. “I’m The Great White Hope” . . .

One of my first rules about the National is that they are a minimum 10 listen band and that again might be pushing it. I think that maybe a minimum 25-listen band would be more apt. This is not that the National is boring, but like R.E.M.’s early music they weave a fabric that is not meant for instant delights but long-term success.

Their follow-up album “Boxer” features just as many delights. ‘Fake Empire’ provides the backdrop that we have been looking at America through rose-colored glasses.

 

“We’re half awake in a Fake Empire,” suggests the very idea that America is a bit of a mirage, an idea that it has never been comfortable with. But it’s not just the idea of the song but the way that Beringer sings it. He has this almost monotone low voice, which is not belting out this phrase, instead almost singing the lyrics under his voice. Clever.

“Green Gloves” provides an eerie feeling of stalking:

Get inside their clothes

with my green gloves

watch their videos, in their chairs.

Get inside their beds

with my green gloves

The careful dissection of the protagonist’s friends but still idea of staying at a distance careful to mention that the examination of their life is wearing gloves. I am going to get inside their beds, watch their videos, in their chairs. In some respects it also plays itself off as story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, other than the fact that Goldilocks is completely ignorant of the Three Bears, the protagonist plays the opposite role of being concerned but also concerned about getting too close.

Slow Show:  ‘you know I dreamed about you. For 29 years, before I saw you.’ In standard logic would eliminate any fans under 30 from being a fan but at the same time provides the backdrop of an unexpected love song. Or maybe it’s a song that the younger generation aspires to be, ala someone that just spends their life dreaming.

The growth of The National is based partly on the fact they have had ample time to create their sound. While I do appreciate their earlier albums their self-titled debut in 2001 and ‘Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers’ in 2003 their last two full-length releases (including their not yet released ‘High Violet’ are clearly their strength.)

Beyond their albums is their work on side-projects. Aaron and Bryce Dessner produced the Charity album ‘Dark Was the Night’ which featured a who’s who of indie rock performers from David Byrne, Yo La Tengo and Grizzly Bear among others. 

HIGH VIOLET

Their newest release ‘High Violet’ has been on my headphones whenever I have an opportunity to listen to them and while I believe that I have not had the approved 25 listen count, I feel this album surrounds their talents over the past couple albums as it does not try to stray and give you something that is not part of their carefully crafted formula.

“It’s a terrible love and I am walking with Spiders”.

The opening song ‘Terrible Love’ creates that ultimate phrase that sets the tone for the entire album. Whereas Beringer has touched on topics of relationships before, I believe as a whole this album is his most intimate personal relationship album to date. However, intimacy is not necessarily trying to evoke the “Feelgood Album of the Year”.

The dark brooding portrait they paint with phrases “I was afraid I’d eat your brains, cause I am evil” does not paint a happy picture. What sets this apart from a constant dreadful release is that the layered melodies paint a beautiful landscape amongst the forlorn meanings.

When I walk the streets of Chicago, the White City, there is always that mixture of unbridled enthusiasm mixed with a sense of sadness. The buildings and people add layers upon layers of melody, the guitar chords bouncing off the buildings, the streetlights beating down on me like drums and the voices off in an alley amongst some trash. Amongst the eloquence that is built on this city of dreams there are plenty of fears and hopelessness as well.

But what do I know? When you have a moment within the basement of your brain to stare at a blank screen and explore the nuances of the National I implore you to do so.

 

R.E.M.'s 30th Anniversary Continued

On this very special day of days I do have some unfinished business before it strikes 12 o’clock.

 

First off, a very happy 50th to Kathleen O’Brien (KO).  Her role in the “R.E.M. Saga” is well documented and continued happiness, health and prosperity to her and her family.

 


There is another band that made it’s debut on April 5th as well and were there that fateful day playing before R.E.M. Their name is the The Side Effects. The Side Effects, included Paul Butchart on Drums, Kit Swartz on guitar and Jimmy Ellison on Bass. Their role in the R.E.M. story is equally as intriguing as Paul and Jimmy Ellison were originally going to play with Peter Buck and Michael Stipe before the formation of R.E.M. but never showed up to practice, according to Peter Buck.

 

Paul Butchart has become a bit of an Athens Music Historian himself, giving tours, and providing in-depth insight into the time and period of this explosion of the Athens sound. I would unequivocally say that Paul should write his own memoirs of this period as it would be an instant buy not just for R.E.M. fans but for music fans in general wanting a more complete understanding of this period of music.

 

With this birthday celebration there was a posting of a show that the Side Effects had taped thanks to Chris Rasmussen who made a copy and the late Randy Bewley of Pylon who gave a copy of this to Paul. The show was from May 16, 1980 at the 40 Watt Club, and according to Paul, is “most likely is the same set played at the Church on April 5, 1980.”  To listen click here

 


Fellow REMringer Martine Hollander has also posted some videos from the REM 30 event at the Melting Pot in Athens, Georgia. The video below is Mitch Easter performing ‘Stumble’, however, I would suggest you try stumbling through all of Martine’s videos from this event. I guess I had to feature this song as it happens to be one of my favorites, plus I was listening to an amazing boot version of this song today that R.E.M. played at Merlin's in Madison in 1982. 

 

 

 


 

 

Finally, I would like to conclude with a very special nugget that I found on the REMring Facebook page thanks to David Ersmarker. WOUG was hosting a 30th anniversary special of R.E.M. songs and they provided the world premiere of ‘Throw Those Trolls Away’ or more commonly known as “When I Was Young”.

 

For those that have heard of neither of those songs, “When I Was Young” was a very early rendition of what would later become ‘I Believe’ which was featured on ‘Lifes Rich Pageant’. This would appear to be a very early demo during the Fables sessions and my understanding is that it will be released on the upcoming 25th Anniversary issue of ‘Fables of the Reconstruction’. This should pique the interests of some fans as to the content of this package considering that this is not a live track but a demo and so we will have to wait and see what the rest of the package will look like.

 

I guess now that the official title is ‘Throw Those Trolls Away’ it would be best to start referring to that as the title from now on. The song was performed very early in the Fables tour performed and quickly abandoned. In fact, I think it was only known to have been played a total of 3 times.

 

While this demo is somewhat difficult to make out what Michael Stipe is singing, if you compare this songs lyrics to ‘I Believe’ you will notice some very familiar phrases being uttered.

 

In terms of the decision to scrap this song and rewrite much of it for ‘I Believe’, in my opinion it was the right decision. ‘I Believe’ is an instant classic in my eyes and this is for better or worse, just an early working of a song that just didn’t pass off as something special. At the same time, the very fact that it is being released should be something to look forward in the coming months with the Fables rerelease. You can enjoy the song here. (Note: That there is no guarantee this link will remain active).

 

Thanks to everyone above and so many more for making R.E.M.'s 30th a very special occasion. Even if you chose to put on some tunes and reflected on this moment, part of the fun is not just dissected the band, in many cases we begin to dissect our own lives and the amount of fulfillment they have provided to us via their music.  

 

 

Happy 30th Birthday R.E.M.!

For most of the last 30 years, R.E.M. have been at the forefront of pop music. Their first single, ‘Radio Free Europe’ caused ripples in the music industry. Their first full-length album ‘Murmur’ created a minor music revolution. In a time when Michael Jackson ruled the airwaves, it was #2 on Rolling Stones Critics poll as best album of the year. Their subsequent albums built upon a following of trying to tear down the prior album and yet still master an idea of clever hooks and intriguing lyrics, even if you could not always understand what they were saying.
 
By the time that Out of Time was released, and went #1 they were a virtual unknown to a majority of the public outside of their fans. Some had felt that they loved their debut album not knowing that their first release had come out 10 years prior.
 
They have had the big tours, been the biggest band on the planet (Sorry U2) went through personnel shifts and even a couple of scandals, although not as bad as many bands of their length have gone through.
 
I think one of the most enduring aspects of their music is that ask any fan their favorite 10 tracks and most likely you are going to not find a single fan that will appreciate the same 10 songs. R.E.M. was never a singles band but an album band where often obscure tracks would become fan favorites.
 
Most of R.E.M.’s music in their heyday can also be considered ageless. Whatever the style, their albums do not sound dated or of the era. In some cases the albums were before their time or were completely unique in their presentation. Consider an album like Reckoning. Could you imagine a young Jeff Tweedy listening to songs like Pretty Persuasion and (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville and not be influenced. Arguably, much of the alt-country movement can thank bands like R.E.M. and the Replacements for influencing their sound.
 
‘Automatic for the People’ came out in the heyday of grunge and I would be in agreement with Michael Stipe’s flippant position at the time that the album was as much punk for what was coming out as anything being released. The follow-up ‘Monster’ while being difficult to write and make was still much different than what was mainstream at the time.
 
One of my personal favorites, ‘Up’, the first album without Bill Berry is in my eyes a true masterpiece for here we see a band that is completely out of their element and provide a very dark and gloomy post-glam-hangover. If there has ever been a concept album for R.E.M., this would be the one.
 
What is lost on much of what is portrayed in the music is that R.E.M. always knew how to sell themselves. It was not what they could have been but rather what they became. The band was never out to sell a million records with their first album. They bypassed tours as support acts for larger, more established acts. They avoided the MTV revolution early on choosing to do things on their own terms. They broke boundaries in defining what a music video actually was.
 
They captured the impetus of the indie rock mystique and became a band that mattered. They led a charge for American rock when it was largely bypassed as being inferior to many 80s British bands at the time.
 
Their album covers often provided more questions than answers. Before the era of the internet when information was much more freely accessed they offered a level of mystique to their music, choosing not to include album lyrics on all of their albums up through Up.
 
They chose not to align themselves with product advertising, choosing it was not a place for their music to be associated with products. They have supported many worthy causes, locally, nationally and globally.
 
They have honored their teachers, giving credit to bands like the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, Television, Big Star, Mission of Burma, The Feelies, New York Dolls, Iggy Pop to name a few. 
 
At the same time they have been admired by the likes of Radiohead, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Pavement
 
At the same time they provided that same inspiration for bands like the Replacements, Husker Du, and Black Flag in the new “Alternative” rock movement.
 
They pushed boundaries and dared the fans when necessary. If the crowd was not into the show they turned it up. Fans would follow the band on tour, as if it was a pilgrimage.
 
They are not young chaps anymore. They are not living out of the same suitcase or travel in the same van. They have become established veterans of a band that still strives to make great music.
 
30 years ago today in a rundown church for a birthday party for Kathleen O’Brien (KO), a nervous 4 guys got out onto a stage and gave it their all.  I wonder if the pre-show conversation was ever about what I wrote above.
 
Most of all, happy 30th birthday R.E.M.

 

R.E.M. Photos From 1984 in Ireland

If you have been following the amount of shows that have been posted to Dime recently you will know that several shows from 1984 have been added to the site, thanks mostly to the legendary Henry Race who is trying to get into heaven by preaching the idea of sharing.

Hank, got in touch with one lucky fan Paul Gallagher who was so happy to see an awesome copy of the show in question (December 4, 1984, SFX Centre, Dublin, Ireland) that he decided to share with Hank some photos he took from that night. 

Thanks to Paul for his willingness to share as well as Hank! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Method Actors - This Is Still It

In my spare time I have been spending time on a comprehensive piece on the Athens Scene in terms of R.E.M. As of course, I have such a detailed history of being down there. . .
 
(insert laugh track here)
 
However, when albums such as this pop out of the woodwork they do need some extra listening.
 
The Method Actors to me were just a name. I had never been able to spend any time actually listening to their music at any real depth and so this album's release came with a bit of apprehension. Am I just buying this album because they came from Athens? My answer to that was 'Yes'. In fact, I failed to read any reviews on it but based my knowledge on the fact that Pylon has posted it on their Facebook fan page.

And getting back to the R.E.M. piece I was writing earlier on their 30th Anniversary gave me a second reason to purchase it. I concluded the purchase was for “Research” which I have now decided is an apt reason to purchase any music whatsoever. 

(Not that this has ever been a problem with my own wife as she has always encouraged me to write, write and write some more but for those of you out in the real world looking for a way to purchase more music, what better than to start a blog and tell your significant other that the purchases are blog expenses.)
 
Of course this is what happens to music. It is born and has a day and a life whereby it fulfills our fantasies and then we move onto the next one. For these songs they were trapped in time and once again released to a different time and audience. The Method Actors have been trapped in a vacuum waiting for the perfect moment to put their name in the news again. 

 
The Method Actors were a duo consisting of Vic Varney on Guitar and David Gamble on drums. Their sound, however, is in no way minimalist in nature as what they are able to accomplish as a two-piece will astound the listener. 
 

What of course has shocked me from this purchase was that the music was surprisingly good. The list of names that they put together regarding the Athens scene is not just an overblown pile of trash. As I read off the name “Method Actors” they will be firmly supplanted as one of the true treasures of the Post-Punk movement.
 
It would appear that both Drowned In Sound and Pitchfork would agree.
 
But in terms of their sound compared to R.E.M., I see that they are much more of an influence especially guitarwise as Peter Buck admits in the liner notes.
 
The Athens music scene was very vibrant in the late 70s early 80s. Everybody is familiar with the B-52s and REM and to a lesser extent Pylon and Love Tractor, but one of my favorite bands and most innovative was the Method Actors, a band that I must have seen play 100 times.
 
To me the Method Actors really had it all. Their unique two-man lineup, guitar and drums (both sang—weirdly, marvelously), was unheard of at the time. David Gamble used thunderstick that must have weighed at least a pound each, had the deepest voice I ever heard and looked like a brick shithouse version of Jeff Chandler in boxer shorts; Vic looked like a cigarette with a guitar. Anyone who has seen the White Stripes knows how much can be gotten out of that configuration but at the time it was considered strange and extreme. They were incredibly prolific, with new songs every time you saw them, single releases, European EPs, and new albums consistently.
 
They were a propulsive live band with a full sound that belied the two-man lineup. And in Vic Varney they had an extremely talented guitar player who rewrote the rules on rhythm guitar, at least as far as I was concerned. I stood in front of Vic night after night watching his hands and trying to figure out how he did what he did. In his use of drum notes, broken chords, modal harmonies, and dissonant rhythms, he created a template for some of the things I did later with my band.
 
These records have been out of print for a very long time. I recently rediscovered them on vinyl and was surprised to see how much of an influence Vic had cast on my playing. I’m extremely happy to finally see these records back in print. They amount to a kind of secret history of the Athens scene and their re-release is something to be treasured. Maybe this release will be a good introduction to the career of Vic Varney, who is still making great records 25 years later. - Peter Buck
 
Ok, so Peter Buck is a fan. Why should you be a fan? When I hear the first track “Do the Method”, it brings upon all the elements of what I would expect out of the early Athens Dance scene.
 
In fact, if I was not denied entry of a certain club in Chicago on the night of my Bachelor party, that plays retro 80s music on Thursday night, I would argue that they could just play this album straight through and it would be a rip roaring event.
 
As you scan through the album on first listen, however, you will notice a plethora of sounds that are not just lined with hooks. We do hear some of the more artsier moments of the Athens scene. ‘You’ slightly danceable awkwardness reminds me more of a band like Pylon.

 
'Rang-A-Tang' sounds like a song that should have been placed on a John Hughes movie from the 80s. Most definitely the most poppy track on the album, the part of the song is pop bliss before Varney goes into a David Byrne-spiel halfway through before the songs is brought back to form.
 
This 19 track album is full of other surprises, as pscychaedelica makes it’s appearance later on.  On tracks such as ‘Pigeons’, the longest track clocking in at 6:55 that take you back to the late acid rock bands of the 60’s with little vocals and Varney but his rhythm guitar and the persistent drumming of Gamble. 
 
Point being, you should not just get this because it’s from Athens, nor because Peter Buck likes it but rather this is genuinely great music that if you appreciate this scene will no doubt be listing this among the better re-released albums of the year.
 
 

Podcasting the Early Years

Thought I would get into the 30th Anniversary Festivities and post a podcast with yours truly playing some of the early tunes and chatting it up with myself.
So sit back and relax to my sandpaper voice as I lull you all to sleep, Rapid Eye Movement style.
Seriously, this podcast is done completely from recordings from 1980 their inaugural year as a band. What I try to examine is the very premise that even at their infancy that R.E.M. had the talent as well as the gumption to be an amazing act.
 
 
 
 

New Music Coffee Break

 Taking a small break from the R.E.M. posts to discuss the best albums so far this year. I bring this up because I am sitting here working on my vacation mix and find myself digging into the 2010 releases and noting my preferences for the trip. Since my wife and I typically spend quite a bit of time driving around on our vacations, what’s better than creating a nice-sized playlist for the trip and then exploring the music together and to be honest, it’s a great way to involve your significant other in the process.
 
While some of you purists out there prefer the idea of playing albums straight through, as do I, a playlist at random allows for the trip to be more enjoyable for both parties because as much as I might want to listen to an R.E.M. album straight through, your significant other might prefer Phish and an hour of Phish is, in my honest opinion, mind-numbing.
 
Compromise allows for our minds to expand in the peace and relaxation of company and good music. Onward and Upward.
 
Ok, onto the best so far….
 
1. Beach House – Teen Dream
 
Best release so far this year by a mile. Quaint, dreamy and reflective. While I would hate to call this album a folk album, because I think it would give the wrong impression but in many respects it reminds me of the Fleet Foxes.
 
2. Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
 
With the help of Beck, Gainsbourg’s album is reminiscent of St. Vincent’s ‘Actor’ in allowing for her to explore different personas.
 
3. Owen Pallett  - Heartland
 
This feels a little bit like what Zach Condon, with Beirut is doing albeit with strings and keyboards and crooning.
 
4. Spoon – Transference
 
Somehow Spoon is finding a way to sound fresh by coming out with solid rock and roll albums.
 
 
Some of the more disappointing albums so far include:
 
1. Massive Attack – Heligoland
 
Massive Attack is another band that has not been the same in the 21st century. I feel this album feels inconsistent, in some respects, featuring too many disparate lead singers to backdrop their sound.
 
2. Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back
 
I found this album depressing and a headscratcher. Gabriel decides to come out with an album of covers but does so only with his voice and a symphony which is a headscratcher.  Standout tracks like Bon Iver’s ‘Flume’ and Magnetic Fields ‘Book of Love’ are not worth the forgettable tracks like David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and Radioheads ‘Street Spirit’
 
3. Surfer Blood – Astrocoast
 
I found this album to feel like your typical “Indie Rock Flavor of the Week”; an album that tries too hard and ultimately is pretty bland.

 

Everybody Spends Money For Haiti Relief

It would appear that the Simon Cowell-Produced ‘Everybody Hurts’ has been a hit. The 453,000 copies of this single that were sold in the first week in the UK set a record.
 
For those fans out there very much upset about this, the entire single, etc. I just hope that you hang in there. All I can say is that everybody hurts. Everybody cries sometimes. So just hold on. That’s what I said, hold on.

 

Warner’s Retreat From Music Streaming Not Necessarily Bad

Spotify, for those that are not aware is a Peer-to-Peer service that allows for users to listen to streamed versions of approximately 6 million-plus songs that are contained within its library.  Think about it simply as going to iTunes, picking a song from it’s library and streaming it to play on your computer, over your cell phone, etc. Of course the big key to this service is that it is free.
 

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