'Resurrected.' 'Refocused.' A lot of 'Re' type of words were thrown around when ACCELERATE dropped and everything that was said was true, the band went in and purposefully became a rock band again, but it's also a bit offensive and dismissive of their past ten years. Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin are entrenched here, the guitars are front and center, the riffs are again the focus of the music, and something new--Michael is very confident in his lyrics and I think that comes from the past three albums. The writer's block, the concept album, and the resignation of imperfection were a sort of trial by fire. In 1985, he said he didn't think the world was ready for him--sort of tongue firmly in cheek--but there was a grain of truth in his statement, less about the world at large and more about his own confidence. In the interview I've posted below, Michael throws out that they seem to be trying to make the perfect rock record--with all sincerity--which means they wouldn't know a great record they made, even if it MURMURed to them AUTOMATICALLY or gave them a DOCUMENT about it. He could be specifically talking about the three person version of the band and if so, point taken--from the past three albums you could put together the greatest album ever, but then there's all the other stuff. So here's another shot at it and the results are excellent, but even the band concedes it doesn't get where they want to go, to what they're capable of--it's close.
For me, this album came out of nowhere. I had recently moved to NYC and was trying to make ends meet, so I definitely snagged the album when it came out, but apart from the first few tracks it didn't particularly inspire me--I missed them live which I now kick myself for. I think the dark edges of the album chafed the life I was living and I kind of needed the supportive R.E.M. instead of the distorted guitar version. I was glad for the new direction the band was taking, but I wrongly thought they'd be around forever. This album and COLLAPSE are the perfect companion pieces for the end of a career and for that I am grateful, but I had sort of dropped out of the loop--not really because of ATS, but because it had been awhile since an album had dropped they became less of a priority. I was more into the new Interpol or Spoon albums anyway--and here are a bunch of almost-50 year olds trying to convince us they can still rock. Here's Jacknife Lee, at the suggestion of The Edge, to slam this thing together, they tried the songs out in Dublin--which became LIVE AT THE OLYMPIA--and recorded in three weeks in three different cities, including Athens. Since we're at the end of the Bush years, Michael still has a lot to talk about, a lot of anger and focus, a lot of vitriol. The bad news is it seems to lead to shorter songs and the entire album clocks around 32 minutes which is Weezer-esque. Probably could've worked 'On the Fly' or 'Staring ...' in there somewhere, but I'll get to those after this album. I really love the artwork as well, Michael details this in the clip below but it's a bunch of his photographs of cities collaged together to make one big city of the future. However, one detail is missing--on the cover R.E.M. for the first and last time on a cover are billed as REM without the dots. Stylistic oversight? Unrelated: When they became a three piece I immediately associated the initials with the leftover band members, they became--in my head--peteR mikE and Michael.
Since I've already gone through CIN when it first came out, this is my final official release to transcribe. I'll cover OLYMPIA and Non Album Tracks (NAT) after and then go back through and fix a bunch of stuff that is definitely wrong or misguided--maybe I'll even take a crack at bass lines. Also, if you're following this live this one might take some time to get through, you might want to officially follow the blog so you get updates, I'll try to do a track a week but who knows. If you're in the future, you're in luck ... unless the shit has hit the fan, in which case ... sorry, I tried, some of us tried.
I didn't think John Norris was still around in 2008:
Here's where Michael throws 'Catapult' under the bus:
Politics? Peter kind of lets this one go ...