Monday, August 06, 2007

New R.E.M Songs

If you're anything like me, you can't get enough R.E.M. Last month, the band played a 5- night stint in Dublin as a sort of working rehearsal for their new album.

Naturally, the new songs went up almost overnight. I've been sitting on this for a while, hoping for better quality videos (because, you know, R.E.M. is the world's greatest band and they deserve only the best), but I really can't contain my enthusiasm anymore. Well, actually, I've become convinced that there are no better quality videos anywhere. Let's pretend they're the same thing.

"Until the Day Is Done"

This was the first of the new songs I heard, and I was instantly convinced that this next album will redeem the boys after Around the Sun. "Until the Day Is Done" taps a little bit of the jangle of the bands early days while giving it the sorrow and weight of the more somber tracks from Automatic For the People. It's a beautiful, beautiful track.

"Horse to Water"

"Horse to Water" channels the auditory assault tactics of "It's the End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and "Bad Day," but amps them up with fuzz a la Monster. Except for the outro, I think this type of track is exactly what the band needs to lift them out of their keyboard-heavy funk.

"Living Well's the Best Revenge"

"Living Well's the Best Revenge" is another rocker. I've always liked songs on which the band rocks out while still staying true to their folk roots, and I think "Revenge" really showcases that ability.


It took me a little while to get used to this song. At first I felt like it wasn't taking me anywhere new, but I've thought better now. I adore the melody of this track, and I think that combining their melodic genius with their ability to rock the fuck out suits them very well.


I'm lukewarm on this. I don't think it breaks out of the Around the Sun mold, and it's not exactly novel and interesting, is it?

"Mr. Richards"

Epic. I like that. But I do not like the back-up guitar part. I especially like the back-up guitar part. It has a "Disturbance at the Heron House"/Springsteen grit in the effect and the structure of the riff adds a slightly tense base for what is essentially a very chill song.

"Man-Sized Wreath"

I just love the sunny-but-urgent feel of this song. The integration of fuzz and jangle is a whole lot of fun. Michael Stipe's voice sounds a little rough for the mix, but I think this track will be amazing on album.


The quality on this one makes it hard to really discern some of the finer points of this song, but "Disguised" has a classic Buck riff and attempts to capture the exuberant bounce of R.E.M.'s early years and weds it with the refinement of their past three albums.

"On the Fly"

R.E.M. can do mournful better than this. I've heard them do it. What is this?

Above all, the Dublin rehearsals were a way of acknowledging the past while forging ahead. As such, they busted out a lot of ancient songs. Here are some of the highlights:

"Wolves, Lower"

Originally from R.E.M.'s first E.P., Chronic Town. Chronic Town is currently out-of-print, but can be purchased bundled with Dead Letter Office, a compilation of early rarities.


Originally from New Adventures in Hi-Fi. Pitchfork gave this record mad props, so even if you're too cool to dig geezers like R.E.M., it's okay to like this song.


Sorry for the low quality on this, but I just had to share it. "Cuyahoga" (from Life's Rich Pageant, the best album ever recorded) is my favorite song of all time.


Okay, last one. I promise. "Harborcoat" pretty much hasn't been heard in 20 years. This performance isn't just awesome, it's historic.

(April Wright)

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Anonymous jeffgummy said...

that's a great performance!! thanks for posting the link, I wish it caught the whole song.

7:04 AM  

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