so r.e.m. has a new album, and

surprise! It actually rocks. Hearing a good R.E.M. album for the first time in 10 years gave me just a hint of the thrill the Baby Boomers must feel each time they shell out $400 for Rolling Stones tickets . . . it’s the quivering heartbeat of still-breathing (if barely) cultural relevance!

More significant than the release of good music by R.E.M. is this: would anyone ever have guessed a time would arrive when Michael Stipe was the most normal-looking member of the band? It’s true; take a look at the press for this new album. Stipe has aged gracefully into the emaciated, bald, 50-year-old man he was at 30. Maybe they all played rock-paper-scissors back in ’93 for who got to adopt the aging/possibly homeless/eventually dignified look and Stipe won. And now it’s paying off.

(Under that scenario, Bill Berry tried the old “dynamite” maneuver and was forced to leave the band within 5 years.)

Paper wins! Paper wins! Mills and Buck ALWAYS go rock!

So it’s good. Go buy it. Accelerate, that’s the name. Kind of a Lifes Rich Pageant-Monster lovechild. But that messy kind of love that ends in a lot of late-night calls to the police after lamps and plates are thrown.

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