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Around the Sun

3.5 out of 5 stars 295 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 1, 2016
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

AROUND THE SUN, R.E.M.'S first new studio album since 2001's REVEAL, is as emotional and ultimately uplifting as it's "Leaving New York" Single. With a renewed band dynamic and songs influenced by world events, this album surprises and satisfies and is both political and piognant.

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Having delivered their last great album with 1992's haunting Automatic For the People, R.E.M. spent more than decade attempting all kinds of reinvention, from the pointlessly noisy Monster to the painfully dull Up. But with Around the Sun it feels like the band is getting its bearings back. Not only is it the Georgia trio's most consistent album since the 1997 departure of drummer Bill Berry, but it also sees the return of the lush imagery and intricate playing of the band's vintage years. There are trains, mandolins, Man Ray skies. More importantly, it seems heartfelt. Witness the gorgeous disquietingly dark opener "Leaving New York," the rapturous folk of "I Wanted to Be Wrong" and the solidly intense "Boy In the Well." At 13 generous tracks, it's far from perfect but--just when everyone thought R.E.M. was down for the count--Around the Sun is an unexpected bruiser of a comeback. --Aidin Vaziri
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 1, 2016)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Concord Records
  • ASIN: B0002W4UVG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (295 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,275 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Taylor VINE VOICE on July 26, 2014
Format: Vinyl
I don't understand why so many people dislike this record so passionately. Perhaps it wasn't what they wanted at the time of release, I'm not sure. The band's fickle fan base has always seemed to have it out for R.E.M. after Automatic for the People went super huge. Nothing has been good enough, every album a misstep of sorts. Well, I emphatically disagree. Ten years after its release, AROUND THE SUN sticks out as one of my favorite releases of the band's more polished post 1990 output. It's odd that reviews seem to both skewer R.E.M. for trying to sound "like R.E.M.", and at the same time attack Stipe, Buck, and Mills for not sounding enough like R.E.M. Well, which is it? This album is full of lush melodies, great plaintive vocals, and reflective melancholy lyrics from Stipe. Some say it's "sleepy," but I've always appreciated the band's slower, more emotional output. It's a great album to listen to on a rainy day. It may take a few listens to get under your skin, but once you spend some time with it, you'll find it ultimately rewarding. A sadly underrated release.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As with any long-running artist, R.E.M. has a big fan base that loves to discuss their work. Some albums like Murmer, Lifes Rich Pageant, and Automatic for the People will always be considered classics while others like Monster and Up seem to divide fans and critics alike. However, one album that seems to garner universal distain is 2004's Around the Sun. Upon its release it was met with lukewarm reviews and was the band's first album since 1988 to fail to make the Top Ten in the U.S.. Some of the complaints about this album are valid but upon closer inspection I believe there's also a lot to offer.

Upon my first listen I had to agree with fans and critics: it just wasn't very good at all. It sounded flat, dull, and lifeless with uninteresting songs and boring arrangements. However, I also knew that most R.E.M. albums are growers and take several listens to fully appreciate, so I kept with it and soon discovered myself enjoying a majority of the record. The opener "Leaving New York" was the lead single and when I first heard it in 2004 I was underwhelmed; it just felt bland to me and it wasn't until picking this album up and really listening to it that I came to discover what a beautiful song it really is. For anyone who's ever visited the city or had to leave a place that they love then the song will definitely resonate with you in some way. Peter Buck's jangly guitar works its magic here while bassist Mike Mills offers up his usual top-notch backing vocals and singer Michael Stipe's voice is solid, something that has never changed over the band's career. He sounds just as good now, if not better, than he did 20 years ago.

Two songs that immediately caught my attention are "Electron Blue" and "I Wanted to Be Wrong". "Electron Blue" is one of my favorite R.E.M.
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Format: Audio CD
Around the Sun has been met with mixed reviews. Either the listener is expecting something R.E.M. has done in the past or the listener is expecting to discover yet another facet of R.E.M., who has shown through the year they are anything but static. There are comprehensive reviews of the album available so I want to concentrate on why you should chose this edition over the standard CD issue, which many of you may already own.

The 5.1 sound of the re-issues has blown me away. If you are not the type of person to "experience" the music this may not be a must have. If, however, you are like me and enjoy listening to the music with the lights off and candles lit, you must experience the 5.1 sound as the subtle sounds come through adding another dimension to the album. ATS has not been out for very long and I was tempted to pass, but I do not regret the decision to purchase simply because of the clarity.

As for bonus materials, you get "LNY" and "Aftermath" videos, a very short 5 minute documentary, and live performace videos of "LNY" and "Imitation of Life."

Because "LNY" and "Aftermath" videos have not been released on DVD this adds to the incentive to pick up the CD-DVD-A.

I think this is a must buy if you do not have the CD and are looking to pick it up, even if you do not currently have 5.1 equipment.
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Format: Audio CD
R.E.M.'s 13th studio album, AROUND THE SUN, will strike most listeners as a throwback to the band's sound in the early 1990s. While I've always thought OUT OF TIME was a pretty disposable record (save for a few songs), AUTOMATIC is what hooked me on R.E.M. While REVEAL, though short on melodies, sounds very much like a classicist R.E.M. album, AROUND THE SUN sounds like the band's trying to rewrite AUTOMATIC, and in every department AROUND THE SUN comes up deficient when compared to its predecessor, mostly because of its lack of emotional depth and the directionless funk R.E.M. finds themselves in the New Millennium.

While AUTOMATIC is slow and built mainly on ballads and folk songs (albeit seen through a rock context), it had an emotional core that binds the record into a cohesive whole. AUTOMATIC never shies away from the heady themes, but it is a comforting record. Much of the album is largely mid tempo with one major exception. The political dirge "Ignoreland," where Stipe kicks the music and lyrics into high gear, bashing Reagan and the Republican Party, sounds both out of place and is rather jarring. Other than that and the rather bizarre inclusion of the throwaway two minute instrumental "New Orleans," AUTOMATIC mediates mostly on death, pain, and a search for solace. It is a tremendous set of songs, and is rightly regarded as one of R.E.M.'s masterpieces. It's mellow, soul-searching music. AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE is the one fo the best realisations of the power of folk and medative music played in a rock and roll context.

AROUND THE SUN, no matter what way you slice it, sounds like a directionless mess.
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