Friday, 25 February 2011

Countdown Into Now

As I write this, we have approximately 4 days until we get to listen to Collapse Into Now in its entirety, and, according to Dol: "Just one week, 7 days, 168 hours, 10.080 minutes, 604.800 seconds" before we can all get our greasy paws on it to keep. Yep, we're ready for this album!

Which is why we don't have to wait to buy it, to hear it. As I mentioned in the paragraph above, we only need to hang in there a few more days. NPR is hosting a CIN listening party online, with the album being streamed live to fans across the Internet. Also available to those who tune in is a chat feature for discussion of each track, and live commentary from the show's hosts (I hope I'm wrong on this one, but I have reason to believe this commentary will be present during the playback. No taping this one, folks!).

The broadcast will take place on Tuesday 1st March, at 2pm E.T., which for those of you living in the UK is 9am. However, should you miss All Songs Considered, the whole album will be available for listening on March 2nd - free of charge!

This isn't the only good news we've had today. Roughly an hour ago, R.E.M.'s YouTube channel posted a higher quality version of the Mine Smell Like Honey live in studio video. Here it is:

Kirsten on Mike Mills Tribute has been doing a sterling job translating some articles for us, from the German version of Rolling Stone magazine. Find them here, and don't forget to drop her a note of thanks! (Also check the comments section for a few more translated tidbits.)

Now all that's left is the agonising wait until the album arrives. I've been trying to keep myself busy, as always, but sometimes the tension and anticipation is almost too much to bear. Collapse Into Now? More like Collapse Into Shock. Due to this lack of any real news, I hope to do a feature sometime very soon - possibly this weekend - and possibly even begin a little project I've been contemplating. Until I have a proper think about it, however, mum's the word. :)

Yours truly,

Note: There seems to be some really weird spacing here - the gaps between paragraphs are huge! Doing my best to fix it, but this may take some time.

UPDATE: Fixed! It's amazing what deleting a bit of HTML can do. :)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Exams finished (finally) - News roundup + video reviews

Click on the image to find out why I'm happy. :)

As I sit down comfortably on my computer chair once again, I breathe a sigh of relief, content with the knowledge that my exams are over and done with. I do have one more day left of German exams, but they're not the kind you can really revise for.

Which means I can get back to what I really enjoy - blogging! Sadly, during my absence (I did, however, post a couple of bootlegs - just scroll down) much has happened in the R.E.M. world. Although I only mentioned it in a small update earlier last week, I am pleased to once again relay the fact that our good friend Ivana from Mike Mills Tribute has once again made the news at R.E.M. HQ, with her amazing cover of Discoverer from the new album! By major coincidence I was browsing the site at the time the news was posted on the HQ. I was bored, so a refreshed the page, and a weekly roundup popped up out of nowhere. Curious, I clicked on it, and down at the bottom of the article was Ivana's link! Naturally, I raced over to Mike Mills Tribute and, in a whirlwind of exclamation marks and smiley faces, I told her the news. :)

This isn't the first time Ivana's been on R.E.M. HQ, however - last year, her cover of Wolves, Lower, recorded to celebrate the band's 30th anniversary, was also picked up by the kind folk at the R.E.M. offices in Georgia. You can see the video here.

But that's not all! Recently, the band released some new interview material via various websites, plus a live video of Mine Smell Like Honey. While the interviews themselves don't tell us very much, the "making of" video gives us our first ever glimpse of All the Best, a song from Collapse Into Now which we hadn't heard before now. Below is the video on YouTube:

Not only that, but Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter (try saying that three times fast!) is featured a lot more heavily, with a little snippet of the previously-unheard chorus. I don't know about you, but I think this'll be a head-banger.

And of course, Mine Smell Like Honey is here. Despite my initial poor reviews of the song, I had always maintained the belief that it would sound much better live, much like I'm Gonna DJ from Accelerate. I'm not normally one to blow my own trumpet, but it looks like I was right on this one!

Michael's voice has a much more gravelly, rock-style tone than in the studio version - his vocals on the record sound like a smoker whose voice is giving out. Granted, Stipe does smoke, but I've never noticed it prior to MSLH. Also, that third backing vocal has gone, allowing us to at last clearly hear Mike's harmonies. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad that extra vocal isn't there. This song has been around since the days of Accelerate - I have two recordings of an instrumental version that they played during the '08 tour - and in retrospect we can see the similarities. With heavy guitars, the band never staying too long on one musical idea... this could easily have been on the last album, were it not for the strange 'pop song' feel to it. Just a guess, but I think that may have been aided by the arpeggios that the lead guitar plays.

There are some other videos lurking around, but nothing that gives us anything really new. While I'm looking forward to Collapse Into Now, I'd rather the band stopped releasing content until March. Why, you ask? The answer is plain and simple - the more I hear songs from the album, the less I think I'll be blown away by it. And judging from what we've seen so far, that's exactly what the new record deserves: the opportunity to blow us away.

While we're on the subject, the first reviews have surfaced! Alas, so far they haven't been very positive. Q gives it just 2 stars, and UNCUT, while being a little more generous, still only gives the album 3 stars. Rolling Stone and Gigbless are the two reviews that are better-than-average, with 4 stars each! As for the bad reviews, I'd like to repost what I wrote on MMT on the subject yesterday, which pretty much sums up my feelings towards the press:
It seems that the press are just going to compare this album to the rest of R.E.M.’s back catalogue, which IMHO isn’t in the least bit fair. The band are probably never going to have another “Automatic for the People”, so why keep reminding us?
You really just can't compare R.E.M.'s latest ventures with the work they did in the 80s and 90s, because that was then and this is now. It's important to take their new albums at face value, rather than prattle on about how the band aren't relevant anymore. So what if Oh My Heart isn't as melancholy as Drive? So what if Discoverer isn't as politically charged and relevant as Finest Worksong? Besides, when you take all their albums from Up onwards, this is looking like it'll be the best yet.

Keep in mind this is just my opinion. I'm neither right or wrong on this one, and it's up to you how you see the band in the 21st century. Don't like Collapse Into Now? That's fine by me. But whatever you do, approach in the same way you should with all music - with an open mind.

Yours truly,

UPDATE: R.E.M. HQ has just posted a feature on Losing My Religion, in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Head over there and take a peek!

Friday, 18 February 2011

McCabe's Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, 1987

One of two covers for this bootleg. The other is embedded in my audio file's tags, but I can't get it out. Should be there within the .rar file.
This is perhaps one of the rarest bootlegs I own, ever more rare than MTV Unplugged. However, anyone with the IRS Vintage edition of Document will have actually heard at least two of the songs on this record. Both The One I Love and Disturbance at the Heron House were featured on the re-release, and both originate from this show. I was under the impression that Time After Time/Red Rain/So. Central Rain was also from this show, but that was actually from Holland in the same year. The recordings on Document are of a much higher quality than the ones I have here, leading me to assume that somewhere somebody has the soundboard recording of the whole show. Will it ever see the light of day? Perhaps not. This bootleg features Peter and Michael on 12-string and vocals, respectively.

There's one other thing that makes this particular bootleg special, and that's the guests. This show is not actually an R.E.M. one - they were actually guests (they called them "The Mystery Twins") for a Steve Wynn performance, and so Leaving on a Jet Plane has Buck, Stipe, Natalie Merchant, Steve Wynn, Jenny Homer and Kendra Smith jamming all at once! A bootleg not to be missed.

Also: Maps and Legends can be heard on the IRS Vintage version of Fables of the Reconstruction, again in a state of much higher quality.

Bootleg details:
01 - The One I Love
02 - Welcome to the Occupation
03 - Disturbance at the Heron House
04 - Finest Worksong
05 - Maps and Legends
06 - Walk Don't Run/Baby Please Don't Go
07 - A Million Miles Away
08 - Trains
09 - The One I Love (played for a second time)
10 - Spooky
11 - Disturbance at the Heron House (again)
12 - Finest Worksong (if I was an audience member, I'd be getting a little bored with all these repeats)
13 - Fever
14 - So. Central Rain
15 - Leaving on a Jet Plane

Quality: B+
Rating:  - An excellent rare show, hampered only by its low quality. A must-have for those who want to hear rare acoustic versions of songs.


And we're done! I'll be on the lookout for the full show. I recently heard Wynn's early set, and he played See That My Grave is Kept Clean with Peter Buck on guitar. You can hear it here. Bye for now! :)

Yours truly,

UPDATE: Got a real gem here! Ivana over on Mike Mills Tribute has made me aware of a YouTube video of That Someone is You, recorded live in the studio for the Oh My Heart single. Listen to it here - it's short, but sweet and has a really rock/pop feel to it. Haven't really formulated an opinion on it, but I like it. Also, Ivana's piano cover of Discoverer has made the weekly roundup on R.E.M. HQ. Congratulations to her! :)

Monday, 14 February 2011

"It Happened Today" - What you may have missed

Jacknife must've had a field day with this.
R.E.M.'s official website seems to have no new information on it, and the lack of news was bugging me immensely. But at least I had the multitracks of It Happened Today to come home to - nothing is more fun than listening to my favourite song, and isolating the individual tracks. Maybe you want to know how to play the guitar part? Perhaps you wanted to find out which voice was Joel Gibb's? In any event, this has to be one of the best things R.E.M. has given us... and it's free!

Listening to a load of instruments you didn't know existed, and then actually picking them out on the studio record has to be one of the most surreal things I have ever experienced. If you had told me there was a mandolin on the track I would have been surprised, but two? I would have just laughed. But they're definitely there, and together they add new levels of complexity to an already awesome song.

What I'd like to do now is put together a list of all the instruments and tracks you can hear if you download the multitrack of It Happened Today. If you haven't got it, head on over to R.E.M. HQ and get either the AIFF or Garageband files. While you're waiting, here's what's in store for you:

  • Michael's Vocals (of course)
  • Mike's Vocals (seems to be two tracks placed into one during the bridge)
  • Eddie's Vocals (a joy to listen to!)
  • Joel's Vocals (strange voice, but an interesting layer)
  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Electric Guitar (plays the same as the acoustic)
  • Drone Guitar (the sound you hear at the beginning)
  • Third Electric (like the drone, but higher)
  • Bass Guitar (doesn't appear as often as expected)
  • Bass Synth
  • Second Bass Synth (mono - having one is not enough)
  • Bass Synth Sustain (notes held longer than original)
  • Hansa Stairwell Snare (presumably recorded in the same place they shot Mine Smell Like Honey)
  • Bass Drum
  • Upright Piano
  • Piano (like the upright, but higher)
  • Mandolins (two tracks put together, panned left and right respectively)
  • Third Mandolin (mono)
  • Celeste and Vibraphone (two tracks put together)
  • Mallets
  • Brass Band (really funny to listen to - the group is called Bonerama)
  • Percussion (mixed into one track, and includes hi hats and clapping)
  • Kick Snare

And if that hasn't left you dumbstruck, check your pulse. You might be dead. :)

Windows users can listen to the AIFF files, but if you'd like to have a go at mixing them then I recommend installing Audacity. Audacity is a free, open-source program that allows people to record, import and mix their own tracks. It can be installed here. Mac and Unix users can get Audacity too, but if you've bought Garageband on your Mac, then that software works just as well.

One final thing - the first word-and-a-half is missing from Mike's vocals during the chorus. Another user suggested that those words can be taken from the second line of the chorus, and that works flawlessly. Other than that, everything else is intact.

I'll leave you to your remixes. Don't forget that they can be posted on Soundcloud, to share with other R.E.M. fans. Happy mixing!

Yours truly,

Friday, 11 February 2011

Bootleg: Kingpin's Bowling Alley, 2005

It's quite easy to tell which covers I made myself, isn't it?

Now here's a really rare one, and with a story behind it. In 2005, R.E.M.'s guitar technician Dewitt Burton was holding a wedding ceremony in Athens, at a bowling alley, and the band decided on an impromptu concert to show their appreciation for his work. What could be better than R.E.M. playing at your wedding, you ask? Well, how about having the incredible Bill Berry drumming live for the first time since 2003? Exactly!

Bootleg details:
01- Sitting Still
02 - (Don't Go Back To) Rockville
03 - Wolves, Lower
04 - Begin the Begin (at the request of the bride)
05 - The One I Love
06 - Permanent Vacation
07 - Radio Free Europe (the last time I recall this being played was in the 90s!)

Quality: A+
Rating: ◊ - Keep in mind this is an impromptu concert, meaning they probably didn't rehearse for it. It does show in places - Wolves, Lower is the example that springs to mind - but is interesting to listen to in any case.


One thing I should mention is the inaccuracies on the bootleg itself. The track names, as well as the original cover I made, list the date of the concert as 10/10/05. This is wrong - it was actually two days earlier. Although I haven't bothered to change the track names (just do that manually), you can download the cover at the top of the page which has the right date on it, and delete the wrong one included in the .rar file. Sorry about that!

In other news, remixes of It Happened Today have been pouring in to the Soundcloud website, which you can view here. I also made one myself. Check it out if you like:

It Happened Today - Contrast Mix by ListentotheAuctioneer

I don't have the best mixing software in the world (it crashed after I added too many tracks), but that's the best I can do with the equipment I've got. Enjoy the bootleg!

Yours truly,

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bloomin' 'eck! (Exams)

Well, this may be the only post until the weekend, and they may be pretty sparse after that. It is now with great regret that I'll have to get cracking with exams, and thus my attention towards the blog's upkeep is going to waver a little. As of now, I can only make posts a maximum of twice a week - come March, I will be able to resume blogging on a regular basis.

I had two exams today - History and Music performing on the violin. I passed the latter (overheard the teachers :)  ), but I won't get the History marks back until a long while later. Tomorrow it's a massive English exam, and then Maths... and then I might be able to post!

So, that's my summary for the week. I'll try to compensate by putting a bootleg up on Friday. Next up - the Stipe/Buck ultra-rare McCabe's Guitar Shop gig, 1987!

Yours truly (albeit harrassedly),

UPDATE: Why do I always miss these? R.E.M. HQ has made It Happened Today available to download as a multitrack! This is even better news than I had hoped - now I can add that to my collection, along with Orange Crush!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Dates for "Collapse Into Now"

These guys are happy 'cause they get to listen to it earlier.

From the creation of this blog in early January, it appears I have been quoting the wrong date for Collapse Into Now's release all this time. Now, courtesy of a weekly news roundup from R.E.M. HQ, I can remedy that. I had been saying March 8 for a long time, which is close... but still incorrect. To give you an idea of just when the new album will be hitting your shores, have a look at the list below:

  • Australia and some of Europe (Germany, Norway, France etc.): March 4th
  • United Kingdom: March 7th
  • Americas (USA, Mexico, Canada etc.): March 8th

The roundup also mentions that Collapse Into Now will be out "slightly later in the week in other areas of the world", but fails to specify just which countries/continents that date encompasses. Your guess is as good as mine on that one. Apologies for initially mentioning the wrong date (or rather, it's wrong to everyone except America).

Yours truly,

P.S. The photo at the top of this post was taken in 1984 by Laura Levine at Walter's Bar-B-Que Athens. It shows the band tucking into a hearty meal there. In fact, they loved it so much they even wrote a song about it!

UPDATE: American visitors! Go to and download Oh My Heart for free before it's too late! You heard it here first, folks. :)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

"Discoverer" video - Hansa Studios

Another one from the CIN trailer, and in the same venue as Oh My Heart, R.E.M. has just released a video for Discoverer, track one from the new record. Rolling Stone Magazine calls it "seemingly live", which to my ears sounds a little harsh. That fact that Michael's vocals have minor differences in them is obvious to me, but the website doesn't seem to agree.

On some unrelated notes, the box with the band's name on it (behind Michael) makes its first appearance since the working rehearsals in 2007. I'm probably wrong on this second point, but the carpets in that studio look awfully familiar... are they the same ones used by System of a Down?

Er... maybe not. But hey, it's Discoverer and it rocks!

Yours truly,

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

It's been a month!

Wow, that long? It feels like only yesterday I started Auctioneer's R.E.M. Blog. How naïve I was at the time - oblivious to the massive amount of work that maintaining a website involved, how often I'd need to check up on R.E.M. news, and the bitter struggle that ensued following my attempts to put a picture on the top of the page. But you know what? It was worth it, every step of the way.

I've made new friends. Fellow R.E.M. fans - bloggers, bootleggers and many more - have helped me find my feet on the Internet. Their insightful knowledge has been a massive aid to my blogging, as have their own websites. I'd also like to thank those of you who have visited the website frequently... as of the start of January, I've had over 600 visitors, more than I could even dare to imagine. Thank you all!

So, now to the reason I'm posting this. The chances are I've been doing some things right, some things wrong, and I'd like to know what they are. Put simply, I'd like some constructive criticism about where I've been doing well, and what areas I need to improve on. If you have any suggestions for extra content I can add, feel free to post a comment here telling me what would be nice on my blog - I'll seriously consider all of them.

If you have any tips, leave a comment on this post. Be as brutal and honest as you want to. Well... not too brutal. That'd hurt. :)

Yours truly,

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Mine smell like honey... huh?

Is it me, or is this just... wrong?

Ethan from Murmurs got a sneak preview of this video, and now that I've seen it I agree with him - the music video for Mine Smell Like Honey is BANANAS.

The whole thing is shot with still images, and involves Michael getting carried up a flight of stairs by a group of men and women. Mostly, the video is in black and white, with the exception of the odd picture (see above for an example), and the end in which Michael is lying on top of a bunch of chairs... with green eyes. I'm sure his eyes are really blue, but perhaps I'm wrong.

Though the video itself isn't in particularly high quality in full screen, it's an interesting watch, and you may even find yourself laughing a little! I do hope this embed code works:

Err... nope. I had hoped to post an embed code, but it seems to not be working. To view the video, click here.

Now that I've had time to reflect on the video, I have to say that, on the whole, I like it - it would have been good to have seen the other band members in it, but a bearded Michael Stipe (not dissimilar to my PE teacher at school, I might add) will do just as well. The general consensus amongst fans seems to be is that this is a strange video, a point that would be impossible to argue against - all one needs to do is view the first ten or so seconds to get a flavour of what the rest of the music video will be like. So far, there has been no word of the track being made available for purchase on iTunes, but seeing as most of R.E.M.'s music videos are up there we should be able to get it soon.

Finally, I'd also like to take the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to Ivana and Elena from Mike Mills Tribute, who started the site one year ago yesterday, on their birthdays. Have a good one!

Yours truly,

Update: R.E.M. posted a higher quality version of the video on YouTube! Here it is:

Ahh... that's better. :)