Déjà vu

Spring Arts Preview: R.E.M., B-52’s, Counting Crows, Breeders: what year is it again?
By MATT ASHARE  |  March 10, 2008

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BAR BAND? R.E.M. promise loud rock on Accelerate.

Prepare yourselves: R.E.M. have decided to become a rock band again. That’s right, if interviews with their long-time manager, Bertis Downs, are to be believed, the band have abandoned the laid-back, experimental vibe of 2004’s Around the Sun on what would appear to be the aptly titled Accelerate (Warner Bros., April 1), delving head-on into louder, harder-hitting guitar rockers for what should be one of the bigger releases this spring.

It’s been more than 16 years since R.E.M.’s old Athens pals the B-52’S recorded a studio album. But with the likes of New York’s Scissor Sisters, Daft Punk, and LCD Soundsystem pumping out discofied party jams, Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, and Cindy Wilson have been honing their chops out on the road in anticipation of the first B-52’s album on Astralwerks. The aptly titled Funplex (March 25) was produced by Steve Osbourne, whose credits include discs for New Order and Happy Mondays, and features titles like “Love in the Year 3000,” “Deviant Ingredient,” and “Keep This Party Going.”

It hasn’t been quite as long since Adam Duritz and his COUNTING CROWS tested the modern-rock waters, but the band’s new Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings (Geffen, March 25) is their first release in five years. There were rumors that they had retained Rick Rubin to produce the disc. If so, it didn’t work out: Gil Norton and Brian Deck produced in two parts. As you could guess from the title, this one deals in themes of Saturday-night sinning and day-after redemption.

Copy editors all over the English-speaking world are celebrating the news that PANIC AT THE DISCO have, for their sophomore album, opted to drop that pesky exclamation point. But the band, who injected a little electronic production into their melodic emo guitar pop on 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, couldn’t help getting a little jiggy with the punctuation on the title of their new Pretty. Odd (Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen, March 25). At least they’ve dropped the Pro Tooled production in favor of something more organic and, they say, “Beatlesque.”

Ohio’s two-man BLACK KEYS went into the studio last year hoping to collaborate with Ike Turner. Although they did write a couple of keepers with Turner, they ended up in a Cleveland studio with Danger Mouse behind the production board, working on what will be the fifth Black Keys disc, Attack & Release (Nonesuch, April 1). In other words, expect a lot more than just drums and guitar on this one.

Danger Mouse has also been back in the studio with his GNARLS BARKLEY partner Ceee-Lo, and they’ve been cooking up their second album of grooving retro-futurist R&B. In the wake of St. Elsewhere, they picked a more appropriate TV show when it came time to name the new one: The Odd Couple (Atlantic, April 8). All you blogger types are probably already burning copies of the disc’s leaked lead single, “Run.”

MOBY comes full circle, back to the rave-style dance productions that put him on the musical map more than a decade ago, with his new Last Night (Mute, April 1). And it feels like the ’90s all over again with the BREEDERS, too. They’re set to release the Steve Albini–produced Mountain Battles (4AD, April 8), which features both Kim and Kelley Deal.

NICK CAVE didn’t rest on his laurels after the success he had last year with the homonymous debut from his Bad Seeds offshoot Grinderman. No, he went right back into the studio with the reconvened BAD SEEDS and pumped out another album full of guts, God, and glory, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (Anti-). It’s already out in the UK and is set for April 8 release here in the US.

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