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Review

The Minus 5 - Butcher Covered

What are you talking about?
 
The Minus 5 came out with another new album this year?
 
Well actually they did, sorta. For those that are going to the Baseball Project/Minus 5/Steve Wynn IV shows, there is a cover CD that is being sold at the concession area containing 17 covers done by the Minus 5. This CD according to Scott is not going to be sold in stores, over the internet, at your local grocery store, etc., so unless you are at a show you will NOT be able to acquire this.
 
‘Butcher Covered’ feels equal parts ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ and ‘In Rock’;  an eclectic mix of a few hits such as a deconstructed version of Lynyrd Skynrd’s ‘That Smell’, and some Minus 5 favorites including The Modern Lover’s ‘Government Center’. The CD offers a glimpse into some of the bands that have inspired Scott McCaughey and I would imagine Peter Buck over the years, a wide array of talents stretching all the way from the 60s till today.
 
As I write this brief review, one of the challenges has been to attempt to figure out what songs are actually on the CD. Due to a grand total of 0 liner notes, the song titles, performers, etc. are in many cases left up to the imagination of the listener. In some respects that is a good thing because the songs feel more than just a cover version but rather a Minus 5 original.
 

Assorted Murmur Reviews

Publication: 
Rolling Stone / CMJ
Publication Date: 
1983 / April 1, 1983

Reviews of Murmur
 
 
 
 
Steve Pond, Rolling Stone
1/1/1983

R.E.M's "Chronic Town" EP was one of last year's more invigorating, tuneful surprises: a record from an Athens, Georgia, band that cared not a whit for the fashionable quirks of that town's dance-rock outfits like the B-52's or Pylon. R.E.M. fashioned its own smart, propulsive sound out of bright pop melodies, a murky, neopsychedelic atmosphere and a host of late-Sixties pop-rock touches. The execution wasn't always up to the ideas - instrumentally the band was still stumbling at times - but "Chronic Town" served notice that R.E.M. was an outfit to watch. "Murmur" is the record on which they trade that potential for results: an intelligent, enigmatic, deeply involving album, it reveals a depth and cohesiveness to R.E.M. that the EP could only suggest.

"Murmur" is a darker record than "Chronic Town," but this band's darkness is shot through with flashes of bright light. Vocalist Michael Stipe's nasal snarl, Mike Mills' rumbling bass and Bill Berry's often sharp, slashing drums cast a cloudy, postpunk aura that is lightened by Peter Buck's folk-flavored guitar playing. Many of the songs have vague, ominous settings, a trait that's becoming an R.E.M. trademark. But not only is there a sense of detachment on the record - these guys, as one song title says, "Talk About the Passion" more often than they experience it - but the tunes relentlessly resist easy scanning. There's no lyric sheet, Stipe slurs his lies, and they even pick a typeface that's hard to read. But beyond the elusiveness is a restless, nervous record full of false starts and images of movement, pilgrimage, transit.
 

Review - Chronic Town

Publication: 
NME
Publication Date: 
December 11, 1982

Nightmare Town, Richard Grabel, New Music Express12/11/1982           
 
A town is chronic because we are fated to revisit it time and time again. A chronic town might also be a carny town, jammed full of colour, with incomprehensible barkers and terrible secrets stowed away behind the tents.
 
This chronic music revisits us, reminds us of the wonderfully, excitingly familiar but of nothing in particular. There are of course precedents, influences if you like. Ringing and chiming '60s guitars are part of it. Voices and harmonies that are distinctly American, not by being any kind of nostalgic throwback but inherently, deeply, are a part of it; as is a modern English pop sensibility, an openness to the possibilities of what pop music can carry or suggest.
 
Chronic Town is five songs that spring to life full of immediacy and action and healthy impatience. Songs that won't be denied.
 
Mystery is a thing that is lacking in run of the mill pop product. Michael Stipe's voice comes close, gets right up next to you, but his mumblings seem to contain secrets. Intimacy and distance. The voice tells of knowledge but doesn't give too much away. The songs have mystery but are in no way fuzzy. No, they have a cinematic vividness, they paint pictures.
 

R.E.M. 'Reckoning – Songs From The Olympia' 4 Song EP Review

Lately, I am consumed by the fact that R.E.M. has been doing something right. Their Deluxe Editions have come out in style, received some notoriety, and even a perfect score, from the Pitchfork Crew and now they are giving us a “Tasting Menu” of some of the songs that are on the horizon.

To give all you novices, a quick Cliffs Notes version of these shows, R.E.M. decided to switch things up before the release of their last album ‘Accelerate’ and put together a set of rehearsal shows in Dublin, Ireland, while working in the studio. They picked 5 nights in the summer of 2007, to play these shows and the purpose was mainly to perform these songs in front of a live audience both for their reaction to the songs as well as the bands reaction to them.

The hope was that by “Beta Testing” these songs in front of a crowd they could figure out what worked and what didn’t. On top of performing new songs, the band also pulled out a host of older of songs they had not performed live in years. What this EP has provided however, is a more modern impression of these songs that are 25 years or even older giving depth of the offering of two guitars being played live than just one on the earlier tunes.

Ironicly, if there was a big brother to the album, “Accelerate” in the R.E.M. repertoire, ‘Reckoning’ would have to be chosen, if not for the spirit of the album as it relates to ‘Accelerate’. So it’s perfect to accelerate to ‘Reckoning’ with 4 strong songs of their own.

Reckoning Deluxe Edition Review

R.E.M’s Reckoning was the second full length and third major release by R.E.M. In terms of their earlier material it was a much more direct album, not relying on the studio to create an atmospheric record but rather incorporate more of the band’s live sound rather than their studio talents on Murmur and Chronic Town.

As I have written before, it was the first of their albums that I had significantly appreciated and made me yearn for more.

That being said, reissues often have the task of trying to exemplify a purpose for the release. For example, is the reissue out of print or severely needing of remastering for it to limits of technology from years prior?

In the case of these deluxe editions, the point has always been to bring a sense to the world that R.E.M. existed 25 years ago. Reckoning, and it’s predecessor ‘Murmur’ were two of the most important contributions to the decade of the 80’s slowly changing Rock music from being defined by synths and to a guitar/bass/drums genre. Along the way, R.E.M. led the way for other acts, especially from America, inspired by the Punk Movement and using the tools it provided to provide a much more free reign atmosphere for what was allowed.

R.E.M. understood Rock and Roll. They knew what worked and what was cliché. The promotion for Reckoning was unique in itself. 1984, was during the heyday of the music video. We had just seen Michael Jackson moonwalk his way into history and at the same time it was R.E.M. despising the music format and expanding on the video realm.

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