lisa ann cassidy
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R.E.M. have released fifteen studio albums since Murmur in 1983, each one distinct in character. The only change in the band’s line-up was Bill Berry’s departure in 1997 (after New Adventures in Hi-Fi), though within the same year they also left their original manager, Jefferson Holt, and ended a six-album run with Scott Litt as producer.
The other major junction in their career is in 1988, when they left I.R.S. Records for Warner Bros. Though an independent label, I.R.S. had major label distribution, so the switch was not a massive ideological sea change, but a move from one label to another, bigger one perhaps better equipped to promote them. Our Band Could Be Your Life mentions R.E.M.’s exclusion specifically in explaining the book’s criteria - while they were weaned on punk and post-punk and part of college/alternative rock, the band was only independent for a brief blip around their first single.
Fifteen studio albums is more than a week’s worth and my time is currently pretty finite, so I made a decision. One of the things I love most about R.E.M. is that they have a back catalogue of strange songs and obsessions hiding in plain sight on studio albums, not buried on bootlegs or fan club releases or in oblique interview explanations. I’d like to highlight these within the first five albums and EP, and to end up with a collection of songs that sounds markedly different to how R.E.M. might seem to anyone who immediately glazed over when they saw which band was up this week.
In real life, my name’s Lisa, I was born a week after Chronic Town was released, and I’m a final-year architecture student in Dublin, Ireland. My R.E.M. origin story is that my dad brought Green home from a business trip to Georgia in the 80s, and they became my favourite band for a long time. I made an R.E.M. zine that nobody’ll ever see again if I can help it, and had a legit business named after one of their albums for a while.
I like thinking and writing about music at handsome young stranger, though it’s abnormally quiet there for a few more weeks as I’m wrestling with my design thesis. I’ve been enjoying reading OWOB every week, so this is both daunting and exciting.