Stereogum gets 'Automatic'

Drive_lSo the fine fellas over at Stereogum have whipped up another one of their patented all-indie-star birthday tributes to the seminal albums of any self-respecting thirtysomething’s life, this time in honor of R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People, which turns 15 this week, thus officially placing my senior year of high school in the "long, long ago" category. Folks like the Meat Puppets, T&S’s Sara Quin, Shout Out Louds, and Rogue Wave have reimagined the album’s twelve tracks, complete with "liner notes" from the bands and an essay from Fluxblog’s Matthew Perpetua.

But unlike my rapturous response to Stereogum’s treatment of Radiohead and Ok Computer, I can’t say I’m in love with any of the songs here. With the exception of the Forms’ "Ignoreland" — which gets stripped down to a funky, fuzzy stomp — and Dr. Dog’s "Find the River", I find these tweaked versions sort of grating and hard to make it through. Maybe there’s something more malleable about Radiohead’s sound, maybe I’m just in a crabbier mood today. Or maybe I’ve just listened my beloved Automatic more times than anyone ever should and am intolerant of change. You decide: mp3s stream after the jump, or download the whole thing here.

you should see the stereogum.com drive xv player here if you have flash

 

Comments (10 total) Add your comment
  • Chris

    Or maybe some of these versions are truly horrendous. The Wrens being particularly awful. And who would rob Sidewinder of all that Giddy-Up! that the original has.

  • Lesley

    “Nightswimming” is my all time favorite song. It is hard to comprehend how someone managed to strip it of all melody and emotion and turn it into something tuneless and boring. Not just bad but actually criminal.

  • Martha

    It’s really been 15 years since this album came out? Holy crap, I’m old. Most of these songs don’t improve on the originals, and I have to agree with Chris and Lesley that The Wrens totally butchered “Nightswimming.” I will now proceed to forget I ever heard it.

  • Martha

    And to further cement my rep as a crabby old lady, I must comment that the Radiohead album wasn’t particularly good either, with the possible exception of “Karma Police” by Vanderslice. “Let Down” is on my top songs list and it was heartbreaking to hear Dave Bazan’s limp, boring version.

  • Snarf

    I can deal with being middle-aged. Constantly being reminded of it at every turn is a real drag.

  • mbr

    Count me in with the people who aren’t thrilled with this “tribute” How can you ruin “Nightswimming”? And you’re not crabby for not liking this. I’m sure everyone’s heart was in the right place, but it was not a good idea to mess with a masterpiece!

  • Hi

    I don’t think I can handle listening to anyone else do Nightswimming. I think I would unfairly wish them ill.

  • Dave

    Of course none of these songs improve on the originals. How could they? I think it’s fantastic. Faithful tributes are boring. This is a tribute to how great these songs are that each of these bands can make them their own. Turning “Find a River” into “Find a Strawberry Field” – awesome. Give it another listen.
    And what’s with all the hating on “Nightswimming?” Methinks these are not Wrens fans. The echoing harmony? The chiming guitar buildup? For a Wrens fan, this cover is perfect.

  • Tim

    REM is one of the most ridiculously overrated acts of all time as is this album. By this point, artistically, REM was well past it’s prime. Predictable, anonymous pop music. Hardly ‘seminal’.

  • Chris

    Dave, I agree that Find The River is pretty darn neat. But I say that as a Dr. Dog fan. But, c’mon on the Nightswimming! When you say “echoing harmony”… if by “echoing,” you mean “utterly incomprehensible,” I can’t help but agree with you.

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