Friday, April 6, 2007

Day of Reckoning

REM's Reckoning, their second album, seemed to be a sleeper hit. Rolling Stone and the Village Voice declared it to be one of the two best albums released in 1983, yet it seemed as if the people who followed the band in that day and age weren't your average music listeners. It wasn't that it got no airplay but more that REM had a definite underground following and so it is sometimes mysterious to find that the band made it as big as they did throughout the late '80s and into the '90s. A lot of the new waver kids liked them but the music couldn't necessarily be pegged into the new wave category. Yet there was something equally appealing to their music outside of this smaller, hip crowd.

Tim Ellison, writer for Stylus Magazine, posted a well-written musicological analysis of why REM held so much appeal to the masses. His bent seemed to focus a lot on the danceability of the songs due to the varied "choking" of the hi-hat in Bill Berry's drum playing and the beats per minute of each track. There was also discussion of the use of appoggiatura in the guitar licks of Peter Buck and in the piano playing on some of the tracks. After reading this article, it's surprising to find that more modern musicians don't cite REM as an influence somehow.

REM's first two albums Murmur and Reckoning were quite unlike a lot of the music being played in the musical mainstream and if you're among the uninitiated, you should definitely check them both out.

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