Vinyl love: R.E.M. “Life’s rich pageant”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: R.E.M.
Album Title: Life’s rich pageant
Year released: 1986
Year reissued: 2016
Details: Black vinyl

The skinny: So that’s that. Seven weeks ago, I started this journey. I first posted about my most recent R.E.M. vinyl acquisition, a 25th anniversary pressing of “New adventures in hi-fi”. Then, I worked backwards chronologically through their albums in my collection, sharing pics of “Monster”, “Automatic for the people”, “Out of time”, “Green”, and “Document”, and now we are at the final piece. “Life’s rich pageant” is the band’s fourth studio album and the only one in my collection not produced or c0-produced by Scott Litt. I originally picked up this album on CD shortly after graduating high school, after hearing it in the backseat of a car, driving home from some long forgotten party as the sun was coming up, the volume cranked and windows wide open. Now, these songs will always remind me of that invincible feeling of youth. And maybe also because of this memory, this vinyl reissue was the first R.E.M. record to hit my vinyl shelves. I don’t see myself purchasing any other of their records, unless someone can convince me otherwise. Who will take up that challenge?

Standout track: “Fall on me”


Best tunes of 2020: #23 bdrmm “A reason to celebrate”

<< #24    |    #22>>

From Urban Dictionary:
“Bedroom pop – A genre DIY indie music, bedroom pop is characterized by its lo-fi quality and often contemplative lyrics. Bedroom pop share elements with other indie genres including shoegaze, dream pop, jangle pop, and emo. Guitars and vocals often feature heavy use of reverb or delay.”

From Wikipedia:
“The rise of modern digital audio workstations dissolved a theoretical technological division between professional and non-professional artists. Many of the prominent lo-fi acts of the 1990s adapted their sound to more professional standards and “bedroom” musicians began looking toward vintage equipment as a way to achieve an authentic lo-fi aesthetic, mirroring a similar trend in the 1990s concerning the revival of 1960s space age pop and analog synthesizers.”

Bedroom pop and rock feels almost like a dirty word to me. I can appreciate the DIY-ness of it all and the ability for anyone with a laptop, a guitar, a synthesizer, or maybe just some good software to create something out of nothing and let it loose on the internet. But on the other side of this shiny bitcoin, there’s also a lot of it out there to wade through, kind of the like the explosion of wannabe YouTubers and influencers. Whenever I hear the term “bedroom” to describe the next big thing, I shudder a little bit on the inside. And then, I proceed to give the act in question a chance, because I’ve discovered more than a handful of artists that got their start in this way.

Hull, England five-piece, Bdrmm*, actually started out as a bedroom project for frontman Ryan Smith. Listening their 2020 debut full-length, “Bedroom”, you’d likely never guess it, though both the band name and album title are none too obvious hints. Theirs is a fully realized shoegaze sound, more guitars than keys, and sounding to this old school shoegaze fan’s ears like the brightest points of early Ride and Chapterhouse. Smith put together the group with family members, friends, and musicians he’d worked with before and released an EP that had them catching the eye and signing with the noisy label, Sonic Cathedral. The debut longplayer was released just a few months into the pandemic, when it seemed like everyone would be chained to their bedrooms for the foreseeable future.

“Well, it’s okay
For you to walk away”

The last song recorded for the ten track album was “A reason to celebrate”, which given that these words don’t appear in the song, feels more like a feeling and an exultation. Though it happens to be my favourite of the bunch, it’s not by a long shot. There’s lots of reverb and layers of guitars to stare at your fingers to, crossing your eyes at them and waggling them about. It’s a blast of inspiration to stir your languid and lazy afternoon on a grey day into something worth exploring. It’s bursting forth from the bedroom into that big old world out there, anxiety and fear be damned, and that’s just damned exciting.

I can’t wait to hear what this group comes up with next!

*You can guess how that’s pronounced.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.


Vinyl love: R.E.M. “Document”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: R.E.M.
Album Title: Document
Year released: 1987
Year reissued: 2018
Details: Limited edition, Limited to 2500 copies, 180 gram vinyl, orange translucent vinyl

The skinny: Six albums into this mini R.E.M. ‘Vinyl love’ series and here is the first sign of any coloured vinyl. Lovingly pressed to a 180 gram disc like all of the albums we have already seen, it was advertised as ‘gold’ but it sure looks like translucent gold to me. I purchased this pressing of R.E.M’s fifth studio album and first with Scott Litt producing right from the R.E.M. store back in 2018. It was an impulse buy. I saw ‘limited to 2500’ and didn’t see it anywhere else so I pulled the trigger. Of course, it was fated to be a part of my collection eventually. “Document” is one of the albums that I had to go back to discover after falling for the band with their next big three. Of course, there were a few tracks here with which I was already familiar but the rest were just as great. There’s just one more to go. See you back here next weekend.

Standout track: “The one l love”