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155 of 175 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peter Buck, I see where you're coming from...
It might be presumptuous of me, but Peter Buck has always struck me as the kind of guy I could have a beer with and talk for hours about music and whatever else. Over the last, say, two decades or so, he's gotten into a habit of touting the latest R.E.M. release as "our best one yet"-- although even he knew to hold his tongue when Around The Sun was released. A few weeks...
Published on March 9, 2011 by Adam Pawlowski

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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overpriced Vinyl With Substandard Sound
This is a warning to anyone who might be considering the vinyl version to escape the flat and undynamic sound of the hot-mastered CD. This vinyl must be a direct dump of the digital audio after the hot mastering process, or else the entire album was originally recorded by a moron with an Mac Laptop and a copy of Protools with each individual instrument compressed right...
Published on April 3, 2011 by Mr. K


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155 of 175 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peter Buck, I see where you're coming from..., March 9, 2011
By 
Adam Pawlowski (Nashville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Collapse into Now (Audio CD)
It might be presumptuous of me, but Peter Buck has always struck me as the kind of guy I could have a beer with and talk for hours about music and whatever else. Over the last, say, two decades or so, he's gotten into a habit of touting the latest R.E.M. release as "our best one yet"-- although even he knew to hold his tongue when Around The Sun was released. A few weeks ago, I read an interview with Peter where he talked about driving home after the Nashville sessions, listening to the finished mixes of Collapse Into Now, and thinking to himself: "song for song, this is our best album yet."

Well, it isn't, but Peter's enthusiasm is not entirely without foundation. (In my opinion, anyway.) I didn't care much for Accelerate, and especially disliked Around The Sun, but this album strikes me as the most effortless and fun recording R.E.M. has released in a while, for once largely avoiding the ponderous quality that has begun sneaking into their music around 1998. I instantly enjoyed Discoverer, Uberlin, That Someone Is You, Oh My Heart, and Walk It Back. Heck, I even enjoy the unabashed cheesiness of Every Day Is Yours To Win. So sue me. There's not one song I really dislike, in fact, although the closing number Blue seems like a hasty shotgun marriage between Country Feedback and E-Bow The Letter, and is to my ears not as successful as the band probably thinks it is.

Finally, I briefly want to address the mastering engineer for this project, a vulgar audio criminal who calls himself Stephen Marcussen. Listen to me, dude: when the Loudness Wars are over, and you're put on trial for your atrocities, for your ruthless limiting and for your utter lack of subtlety with dynamics, and when they finally sentence you to the (musical) chair, I will be there to laugh in your face. There's no excuse for an album from a major band to sound like THIS. Go back and listen to Automatic To The People (which you also mastered before the insanity took over) and try to remember what an R.E.M. album is supposed to sound like. (Maybe some of the blame lies with Jacknife Lee for his mixing job, I don't know.) I can only hope that R.E.M. fans find a way to enjoy this recording despite your mastering. Alright, I'm done venting. I'm off to ruin somebody's day now...
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83 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars REM- A fighting fit and on form 15th album, March 8, 2011
This review is from: Collapse into Now (Audio CD)
3.5 stars
Lets start this review with three basic facts about R.E.M that if accepted will make us all feel much more content and happier.

1. Bill Berry left REM some time ago.
2. The band have already recorded their best albums and with "Murmur" and "Automatic for the people" behind them they will never make better music.
3. Some of their albums since Berry's departure have not been very good and in particular "Around the Sun" could be used for Frisbee practice.

Thus we have REMs 15th album "Collapse into now" which Mike Mills has trailed with the enticing hint that "It makes sense as a whole the same way that Automatic For The People did." And yet it has already been denounced by some critics as a sure sign of a band "stranded between somewhere between pointlessness and real inspiration" (John Harris in Q Mag). So let's ignore the verbal's and judge the songs and see where that takes us. As a starting point after listening to the first four songs it's hard to disagree with Mill's sentiments since they amount to one of the finest opening sets to a REM album in many a long year. The blazing "Discoverer" is a truly excellent rock song full of great chunking Peter Buck chords and with Stipe spitting out the opening lines "Hey baby/This is not a challenge/It just means that I don't love you as much as I always said I did". Next up is the ferocious attack of "All the best" with its great centerpiece line "lets show the kids how to do it fine"; it is followed by "Uberlin" which does echo "Drive" and taps into that instantly recognizable classic REM sound harking back to the "Reckoning" era sound and is a lovely lament and a great Stipe vocal. The New Orleans floods and Hurricane Katrina provide the backdrop to the superb single "Oh my heart" a waltz like song which henceforth should be made the recovering cities unofficial national anthem.

So a good start which is followed by a more variable mid section. The melodic "It happened today" with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder providing backing vocals is fine if a bit repetitive. "Everyday is yours to win" and "Walk it back" are again old style REM ballads and the beauty of latter in particular grows on every listen. Its from here however that faults begin to emerge the most obvious being that you become increasingly aware of the appalling Jacknife Lee production that is so "in your face" with every instrument pumped up to Spinal Tap Volume 11 it often destroys any hint of subtlety or nuance. In addition there are couple of songs here which Buck should have insisted that Stipe keep them for an album of B Sides of rarities not least the rather silly duet with Peaches "Alligator, Avaitor, Autopliot, Antimatter" and the REM by numbers approach set out in "Mine smell like honey". Stipe also needs to end his never-ending quest to find the distant relative of the "End of the world as we know it and I feel fine" and "That someone is you" again falls into this category.

REM do have a track record of leaving their best songs until last and who can forget the brilliant trio of Man on the moon, Nightswimming and Find the river on "Automatic" While "Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I" and "Blue" are not in that league but they are a strong conclusion to the album. The first is one of those aching ballads which Stipe nails proving that on his day he remains a great songwriter and it is one of his best songs since "I'll take the rain" "Blue' alternatively is hewn from the same rock which carved out "Country Feedback" the penultimate song on "Out of Time". The latter is one of my favourite REM songs and like it "Blue" has one of those spoken Stipe lyrics over distorted guitar with Stipe's enlisting again the help of his great friend Patti Smith to provide a charismatic vocal accompaniment. The song fades out by reprising the riffs of opener "Discoverer", not before Stipe however announces, "that this is my time and I am thrilled to be alive". On the evidence of the bulk of this album it's a sentiment that can be endorsed by all good music fans.
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46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars R.E.M.'s Abbey Road..., March 9, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Collapse into Now (Audio CD)
The one thing that mystifies me the most about comments like "R.E.M. are returning to form" is the implication that they LOST their form in the first place. Sure, the post-Berry albums have not been anywhere near as strong as their earlier work. No disputing that. But the worst album they've put out has been Around the Sun, which was definitely uneven and mediocre but still had a few flashes of brilliance (most particularly "Final Straw," which was a full-on political slam on par with any track from their mid-80s discography). The same can be said of Reveal or Up. The cohesiveness of Murmur or Automatic for the People might not have been there, but there were still some very fine songs produced during that period. If the past ten years have been R.E.M. at their worst, then that's actually a mark in their favor, because their worst is still better than most if not all of their peers have been able to put together.

Which brings us to Collapse Into Now. I am not going to waste anybody's time trying to compare it to Automatic or Murmur or anything else. You draw your own conclusions. What I will say is that this album has that cohesion that their recent albums (even Accelerate, which was on the whole a very strong outing) have lacked. The tracks flow together. All of the various stylistic masks the band has worn as they've tried to find their way artistically since Bill Berry's departure coalesce in a natural, unforced way (more than once I've read reviews that say it sounds like a greatest hits album, and that is not an unfair assessment). Peter Buck alternates from full-out feedback-driven rockers to the softer, janglier style that defined R.E.M. in their prime, occasionally throwing in a few chords off a mandolin for good measure. The vocal interplay between Michael Stipe and Mike Mills is as strong and melodic as it's ever been. And most importantly, the album is strong from beginning to end. The high point on the album for me is "It Happened Today," which explodes into the gorgeous, wordless, ecstatic harmony that Mills and Stipe (joined here by Eddie Vedder) have been masters of for twenty years.

The comparison that I want to make with this album is not with any of R.E.M.'s other works (as I said, you decide for yourself where it sits in the canon), but with the Beatles' Abbey Road. The Beatles, enervated from the interminable and torturous sessions for what would become Let It Be, and genuinely sick of each other, reconvened and, for no other reason than to prove they could do it, knocked one out of the park, producing what was in many ways the most polished work of their career. Listening to Collapse Into Now give me the same sort of feeling that I get from listening to Abbey Road; a band that has come off a rough patch (because whatever your thoughts on R.E.M.'s output since the mid-90s, you can't deny that their continued existence has been questioned more than once), who've had to wonder whether or not it still has what it takes after a legendary career, collect themselves and puts out a masterpiece, for no other reason than to shut everybody the hell up. Given what the Beatles did after Abbey Road, taking the comparison to its logical extreme implies that this is it for R.E.M. That's far from clear, but if it is, it's a hell of a parting shot.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars R.E.M. plays R.E.M., March 21, 2011
By 
This review is from: Collapse into Now (Audio CD)
What a fantastic title for this album. I can't say that I actually "got" it until after listening through the album and realizing that this actually IS an album - an artistic statement that is tied together beautifully. We go on a journey of discovery through life and end at "Blue" with a brilliant spoken word poem by Stipe backed by Mills and Buck in full-on R.E.M. fashion. The past does have meaning, but you can't dwell on it. The future is unknown. Take all those experiences, take those hopes and dreams and collapse into now - put it all into this moment.

"This is my time and I am thrilled to be alive. Living. Blessed. I understand. 20th Century, collapse into now."

The reprise of Discoverer brings it all into focus and also proves that R.E.M. lived up to the title of the album. They took their past, all their experiences, all their hopes, and they put them here. If you want an album that represents R.E.M. from pretty much every phase of their long and incredible career then this is it. And it just comes off as effortless.

It seems to me that Stipe, Mills, and Buck all tried for a decade to not be R.E.M., thinking that they couldn't be what they were with Bill Berry. They captured some of their former glory on Accelerate, but here they brought in the experiences of Green, Out of Time, Automatic, Monster, and New Adventures. This is R.E.M. waking up and discovering that they are still R.E.M. and that they don't have to run from their past.

And the end result is a really joyous album. Not everything here is uplifting just as life is not always, but those darker edges can make us better. There's reflection throughout and it makes for a mature and compelling work.

Accelerate was a great album, a fantastic followup to the mediocre and overproduced Around The Sun (though that album does have some good cuts on it). R.E.M. has put together two consistent albums after a decade of hit or miss. Up and Reveal were mostly good, but could have used some trimming. Around The Sun could have used a lot of trimming.

Is this album up there with Automatic, Out of Time, Document, etc? At this point it couldn't be. The problem with any established band is that the memories weigh heavy with each new release. It's been 20 years since Out Of Time and I know that I have a lot of memories attached to that album. R.E.M.'s Out of Time, Automatic for the People, Monster, and New Adventures in Hi-Fi were all released during my teenage years - I grew up with them and so much of the feelings of those times are attached to them. It's hard to live up to that and unfair to expect a new album to do so. There will be new memories here, but you have to allow them to grow and not become too enamored with the past because it will prevent you from enjoying the present.

And that is ultimately the lesson of this album. I will not allow R.E.M.'s past to prevent me from enjoying this present just as I will not allow my own past to prevent me from living and loving the present. Collapse Into Now.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fan since '81 says CIN easily among their best, March 13, 2011
This review is from: Collapse into Now (Audio CD)
Just one guy's opinion, for whatever it's worth--

REM is my favorite band and has been since I was first mesmerized by Chronic Town and Murmur. I like nearly all flavors of REM: slow, fast, hard, jangly, folky, country, melancholy, pretty, bubblegum, dirge, soulful, dark, angry, bitter, and electronic. The common thread for me is melody (and often harmony), and that's what keeps me coming back. Even their lesser albums have a handful of strong melodies/great songs.

After ten or so listens and counting, I think Collapse Into Now is a great album, easily among their best. I believe it will endure like Automatic For The People. I believe my throat hurts.
CIN has the majesty of Automatic For The People but with (arguably) more variety,
fun off-kilter melodies, some of the ebullience of Out Of Time, and some wonderful rockers.
It also has one of their most beautiful songs ever--the gorgeous Überlin. All this at the 30+ year mark. Wow.

Thanks for reading.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Machine that WORKS!, March 9, 2011
By 
Sonny Chiba (Malibu, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Have just ordered this.
Listened to it over and over on NPR's album listening party.
Thoughts: this is a great REM album.
This is what you want them to come up with.
Soulful, fun, playful and thoughtful. On par with everything from the past.
Best lyrics in years.
Sound that references the past without becoming a self parody of it. This is no cover band album.
I find it amazing when a band can get lost in the wilderness (their last few albums left me cold) circle back and find their 'sound'.
Nobody else can do this. Only them. If this reminds you of something else they did, it's because the ARE REM!
This sound is what they do! This is what they sound like!
Excellent album.
MP3 version give you two bonus tracks.
I opted for the CD because I already know I'm going to be listening to this over and over and really want the best sound.
Wish it came on Blu Ray in HD Audio PCM.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A return of sorts to what made them who they are, but only a few new twists, March 8, 2011
By 
John J. Martinez (Chicago, Illinois, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Collapse into Now (Audio CD)
R.E.M. has my total respect. I have been an off-and-on fan for over 25 years. My first experience was the wonderful "Green," and as I was living in seattle at the time, it will forever remind me of the Crocodile Cafe, a new alt band moping around 5th Ave and Pike called Nirvana, and so much more.

It was with real glee that I was handed a copy of R.E.M's newest release and their fifteenth album. I have followed their changes, both personal and with personnel.

This album is lush, loud (but the right kind of loud), straightforward and more.

12 songs totalling just over 40 minutes:

1. Discoverer - Michael Snipe's vocals have never sounded better as he takes us on his and his bandmates journey once again, taking us by the hand into the craziness of life, and sometimes it's not as bad as we think it is. Patti Smith also jumps in on harmony, and it only sounds greater with her in this fast rocker.

2. All the Best - the sound is fresh and wonderful, a bit rushed but they tell you that they as a band have done it all and they aren't going anywhere - the kids don't really know, so we'll just have to show them how to.

3. Überlin - the lyrics are just as sing-song and still make me have to listen to it a few times - the guitars here are somewhat buried, but the harmonies will lift you off the ground. Eat some breakfast, don't forget us, we're right here, and we always have been...

4. Oh My Heart - If Starship built this city on rock and roll, R.E.M. came back after a long journey with a heavy heart to help rebuild it after the disasters of power pop princesses, Autotune and Beatles car commercials. Will they save us? I hope to God so...

5. It Happened Today - Michael and the boys took the brunt of the pain and want you to know it's okay to breathe, and the parade is holding them up in their arms... wonderful harmonies by wonderful tunesmiths Michael and guest vocalist Eddie Vedder.

6. Every Day Is Yours to Win - a wonderful slow ballad that reminds me so much of "Everybody Hurts," but not so much the message, but it's a grocery list of laments and ideas and promises, but in the end as they've always said, it's in your hands, and you decide how you shape the world... is this so wrong?

7. Mine Smell Like Honey - a crunchy bit of rock slapped down in the middle of this album, and sometimes the search is better than the finding of what's really out there.

8. Walk It Back - one of the most direct songs on the album, and will be in heavy rotation on many alt stations nationwide, guaranteed. He wants you to know that it's okay to want the things you've given to others to sometimes come back to you faster than anyone else may want it to happen. Blessings, miracles, magical events, karma, they do come back, but at their pace.

9. Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter - a real rocking return to the R.E.M. of old, it's the 1990's all over, and guest vocalist techno rocker Peaches perfectly throws out the nonsensical and wild lyrics with a gusto I haven't heard on an R.E.M. album in a while...

10. That Someone Is You - God, I thought it was The Replacements from 1992 all over again, but this only tells me that their sound, THEIR SPEEDY GUITAR GEORGIA SOUND, has been copied by so many others I thought it was someone else! Wow, they sound so good...!

11. Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I - this song once again takes me to "Man In The Moon," and it's another lost ballad to once glorious times, and people who defined the kind of effortless cool and strength at the speed of sound that's gone, gone, gone, and only the boys can make it worth listening to.

12. Blue - Patti Smith, who keeps Michael and the rest of the band centered as everything else unravels in a miked up background, sings against a digital wind and a symphony of words, guitar and drums swirling around her. She is grounded, and the storm rises and flows, and the album ends on a whirlwind of what-might-have-beens, piano and repetitive words, and finally background vocal noises and guitar effects, endlessly fading into the blackness of the album.

I was exhausted after listening to this, and you will be too. It's breezy, forces you to stop and listen, to take a sonic journey and stay the whole way through. I was a bit disappointed that they are relying on past glories (and sound) to produce still inventie music, but I have looked past worse things from other bands. If you've got a great formula, and it works, use it!

Out of 5 stars I'm giving it 4 - I have to be honest, I have heard a few of these songs before wearing the same suit, but I still say buy it for it's use of sound, the usage of their singsong lyrics, and please give it a listen. Discover it for yourself and you might find it's a journey worth taking.

(Thanks for reading and please check out my other reviews, and don't forget to leave feedback!)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still monsters, 30 years on..., March 8, 2011
By 
This review is from: Collapse into Now (Audio CD)
REM's latest CD "Collapse Into Now" is filled with charming melodic ballads interspersed with the odd rocker. Very relaxed and free flowing, and easily one of their most accessible releases in a bit.

Opening is the buzzing/chiming rocker "Discoverer" which is vintage REM, followed by the thumping "All The Best" with sawing guitars which finds Michael Stipe singing ""I'll give it one more time, I'll show the kids how to do it fine, fine, fine." Keeping the tempo up are the Punk-ish "Mine Smell Like Honey", the urgent "Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter" (featuring Peaches and Lenny Kaye), and the bouncy sunny pair of "It Happened Today" (with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Joel Gibb of the Hidden Cameras on backing vocals, and a nice wordless break) and the brief "That Someone Is You".

We have nice jangly pieces that sound like the soundtrack to some Spagetti Western movie, songs like "Überlin", "Oh My heart", "Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I", and the narrative-filled experimental "Blue" (with guest vocals by Patti Smith), all absolutely spectacular. "Every Day Is Yours To Win" is a gorgeous acoustic ballad, while the mournful "Walk It Back" features downbeat tremulous vocals by Stipe. "Collapse Into Now" shows heart and warmth, even when the lyrics remain oblique and cryptic. A real winner!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fitting End for a Wonderful Band, September 30, 2011
This review is from: Collapse into Now (Audio CD)
With the recent news that R.E.M. has called it quits as a band, I decided I'd review the album that has been perhaps my most played of 2011.

A band like R.E.M. has now made so many albums over such a long period, that the opinions on this one album will be quite varied and strong. I've never been a die hard fan in the sense that I know every song or lyric the band ever wrote, but I've loved them enough to own every album and enjoy every album for what they are worth.

Collapse Into Now may be an appropriately titled album because in creating what I feel is one of their best albums (definitely my favorite in the post Bill Berry era), they have achieved something that many older bands strive to achieve but fail at...

R.E.M. have seemingly created an album that is anchored in the present in terms of sound and lyrics that somehow still captures the essence of R.E.M. over their complete career. It is as if they really collapsed themselves and their career into one package full of a wonderful collection of songs that seems to be as good as anything in 2011 is. When I listen to this album I find myself at times enjoying the genius of Michael Stipes lyrics and their appropriateness for the times we are in, yet on each listening I always find myself pleasantly remembering how great R.E.M. has always been and how great they were and how great they are as they retire their band.

Ultimately, the biggest strength of this album is that it stands alone. It is cohesive and it feels like it comes from the heart. It feels like the music of a band that can embrace its past without feeling the need to repeat it. It is a wonderful album that stands amongst the bands best (but whether it is absolutely the best is up to you).

The biggest flaw many fans of many bands make is the worry about where an album stands with respect to the catalog. Bands evolve even if their sound doesn't, and even good albums such as this can be criticized for not being the epic 5 star album that something like Automatic For the People or Murmur may be to you. Enjoy this album for what it is now. You won't be sorry.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overpriced Vinyl With Substandard Sound, April 3, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Collapse Into Now (Vinyl)
This is a warning to anyone who might be considering the vinyl version to escape the flat and undynamic sound of the hot-mastered CD. This vinyl must be a direct dump of the digital audio after the hot mastering process, or else the entire album was originally recorded by a moron with an Mac Laptop and a copy of Protools with each individual instrument compressed right up to just under -0dbs.

There is no dynamic range at all. I've never heard a vinyl record that didn't have that before. When it sounds less-dynamic and more cheaply-recorded than the 1976 'granny plays the hammond Organ' album 'Happy Organ Goes Country' that I found in my grandmother's collection after her death, you have to wonder why REM even bothered putting it onto vinyl to begin with.

It's an expensive vinyl with cheap B&W lyric insert and no included cd version or download coupon included to add insult to injury to those who actually bothered to buy, (rather than steal), the album, coupled by the sad realisation that an mp3 would have been on par in terms of sound quality.

Yes, I know you're 17 and you think this is the best album they've done since monster and REM still have it and you listen on the subway with your ipod speaker buds and it sounds exciting to you and what would i know about engineering sound and i'm just a hater who wants REM to fail. All I can say is I was there when Murmur sounded nothing like everything that was wrong about rock music in 1983, and now they're a textbook example of sounding like everything that's wrong about rock music in 2011.
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Collapse into Now by R.E.M. (Audio CD - 2011)
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