» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Warner Bros.

Rating: 8/10 ?

April 25, 2008
Faulty logic in the old adage "it's better to burn out than to fade away" has been slowly exposed in the past decade. Sure, in hindsight, Kurt Cobain's death left more of an impact socially and musically than did Layne Staley's. Tim Buckley, Marc Bolan, Keith Moon, Nick Drake, Ian Curtis, and any handful of others will be remembered as much for what they could have done as for what they did. But today, there seems to be new thinking when it comes to longevity. Nobody's faulting Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, or Neil Young for careers filled with peaks and a few valleys. They are almost revered for their shameless perseverance in the face of inexhaustible obstacles.

This brings us to R.E.M., the band roundly ridiculed for their post-New Adventures in Hi-Fi trifecta of albums. Just like U2, a band of the same era that was mocked for its Zooropa and Pop blunders, R.E.M. seemed all but through. But just as U2 rediscovered their roots with All That You Can't Leave Behind, R.E.M. have reclaimed lost ground with their latest release, Accelerate.

Album opener "Living Well Is The Best Revenge" is a call to arms that is more bombastic than beguiling, but we get the message. "Man-Sized Wreath" follows through commanding control. Peter Buck's guitar wails and Mike Mills' backing vocals are tried and true. Michael Stipe has got his ire up, but his vocals never turn into a self-righteous diatribe. The verse is poppy and never ventures into simulation: "Throw it on the fire/ Throw it in the air/ Kick it out on the dance floor like you just don't care/ Oh just give me some."

R.E.M. settles into comfortable territory with the tracks "Supernatural Superserious" and "Hollow Man," where Stipe dictates the songs' tempos with his opening lines: "Everybody here comes from somewhere" and "I've been lost inside my head," respectively. Each track, clocking in at around three minutes, is more about selling hooks than selling convictions as on past hits "Everybody Hurts" and "Losing My Religion."

The tracks that do carry weight, "Houston" and "Until The Day Is Done," are actually the best on the album. Even if Stipe is somewhat sick of himself (on "Hollow Man" he claims "I'm overwhelmed, I'm on repeat/ I'm emptied out, I'm incomplete"), he can't exactly ignore the more profound themes underwriting the band's eminence. "Houston" is a response to Hurricane Katrina; it carries the raw emotion on the outside in the "When The Levee Breaks" weight of its riffs, but it's more about finding some glimmer of hope in the matter than fully decrying the government. "Until The Day Is Done," on the other hand, would fit nicely on their beautifully melancholic album Automatic For The People. In accord, the continuum of music that Accelerate calls forth is really its triumph.

Album closers "Horse To Water" and "I'm Gonna DJ" miss the mark by reiterating the band's reinvigoration, which-judging by the 36-minute album length alone-should already be old news by the end of Accelerate. But the overriding idea trumping it all is "who cares?" We know, just as R.E.M. has known, that when it comes to finally calling it quits, they will have the last say. My my, hey hey.

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill



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