Wednesday, April 02, 2008

You Think It’s Alright, But It’s Really Just Shite….

WNYC Soundcheck had a debate between critics Michael Azerrad and Jim DeRogatis about REM’s new album, Accelerate. Jim thought they were bloated, rock stars, Michael thought it was their best album in years. Listening to cuts from the disc, I have to say I can’t be bothered to give a shit. REM were interesting and relevant in the 80s, and made some brilliant music with Out of Time and Automatic For the People. Ever since then, it’s been diminishing returns, Monster was their attempt to get on the grunge bandwagon a day late and a dollar short, and then they just veered into Adult Contemporary blandness. It’s rarely a good idea for a band to decide to rock out late in their career, but especially so when the band never really rocked to begin with. That’s exactly what Accelerate is: a bunch of middle aged dudes trying to rock out/ sound like U2. Some fans are gonna eat it up, and that’s fine. A lot of people like middle-of-the-road, boring rock: just look at Nickleback’s album sales. I am personally reminded of Sick Boy’s succinct appraisal of Lou Reed’s career in Trainspotting: “You think it’s alright, but it’s really just shite.” There is too much interesting, vital music out there for me to waste my time with late-period REM, or any other half-assed effort by musicians past their sell-by date who refuse to grow old gracefully.

That said, I need to remember to buy the last John Doe album: there’s one aging rocker who is still putting out interesting music 30 years into his career.

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