R.E.M.’s top 5 albums will live on long past their break-up

R.E.M.’s top 5 albums will live on long past their break-up (photo)

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R.E.M.’s Wednesday break-up announcement placed a bookend after 2011’s “Collapse Into Now,” officially making it the group’s final studio album (barring any unforeseen reunions). Their sound has floated and meandered since original drummer Bill Berry left the band in 1997. Left to their own devices, Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills stayed productive, but never managed to hoist a true new classic up into their discography.

“Up” and “Around the Sun” delivered a few memorable tracks and collaborations, but none of R.E.M.’s post-1997 albums matched the levels of indie rock invention and lyrical inspiration that they achieved in the following five classics.

In fact, if you ever need to get acquainted with R.E.M. at its best, put these albums on your playlist, and prepare to understand what made them great.

murmur.jpg“Murmur” (1983)
R.E.M.’s first studio album features a band in the process of honing its sound, and you can almost hear them rising out of the mist as they announce themselves in “Radio Free Europe” and grow out of the second track, “Pilgrimage.” The album sets Stipe loose with his young-adult angst and attitude on songs such as “Moral Kiosk” and “Catapult.” The band still sounds soft-boiled, but that’s part of the charm on “Murmur.”

newadventures.jpg“New Adventures in Hi-Fi” (1996)
Often overlooked because of its different sound and place during the twilight of the Berry era, “New Adventures” boasts some of Stipe’s most feeling vocals and a rare successful journey into harder rock with “The Wake-Up Bomb.” R.E.M. rarely packaged the variety, balance and fully energized, attacking performances that made it onto this album, and it has aged well over 15 years.

pageant.jpg“Life’s Rich Pageant” (1986)
Stipe, Berry, Buck and Stipe kicked their careers into a new gear with “Life’s Rich Pageant.” The acidic lyrics and spontaneously erupting melodies that highlighted their 1980s work are in full bloom on “Begin the Begin” and “Hyena.” The whole album rolls forward with a fierce, fragile momentum and a fresh sense of discovery that couldn’t be imitated by any other band.

automatic.jpg“Automatic for the People” (1992)
Outside of R.E.M.’s core fandom and in the popular consciousness of the ’90s, “Automatic for the People” will forever be the album that defines what R.E.M. sounded like. Filled with pop gems such as “Man on the Moon” and “Everybody Hurts,” it summons an orchestral backdrop for a litany of powerful folk-infused ballads while letting Stipe crack his voice during determined leaps toward higher notes in “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” and “Ignoreland.”

document.jpg“Document” (1987)
R.E.M. made their quintessential ’80s album with “Document.” By this point, they knew how to command an audience and pass their songs around the stage with sobering effectiveness. Almost every track from “Disturbance at the Heron House” to “Oddfellows Local 151” oozes with ominous elegance, and atop all of them sits “It’s The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” Both celebratory and aching with cynicism, this is R.E.M. at its most glorious.

Which R.E.M. albums would you add to your own list of favorites? Let us know below or on Facebook or Twitter.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.