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DaltonMaltz

Automatic for the People

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Adam Scott Aukerman rejoin to discuss R.E.M.’s seminal eighth studio album Automatic for the People. We’ll get the scoop on where to find the best pizza slices, how Adam ended up as an extra in an R.E.M. music video, and where the boys found themselves upon the 1992 album’s release before they dive into Automatic for the People. Plus, Adam talks about a film he saw on a new episode of “I Love Films.”

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I'd given up on the band at this point. Listening to "Drive" for the first time in years, I'm reminded of why. In fact, I don't like any of the songs on this album.

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Clutch TMBG shoutout by Scott about The Lion Sleeps Tonight adaptations in 1992. heck yea babey

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Incredible album, perhaps their most sophisticated and polished but it bristles with raw emotion. At times both bleak and uplifting it reminds me of that time in late September when summer still tries to cling on as autumn begins to encroach. And Drive is an incredible opener, perhaps my favourite opening song of any album ever. I still get chills 25 years later when those guitars kick in halfway through.

 

I took Scott up on his challenge and attempted to find Adam in the video for Drive. I scrutinised the video on the Parallel DVD for nearly twenty minutes before I realised what I was doing and stopped.

 

I just realised the middle of that first paragraph sounded a bit wanky, but I was just trying to convey how the album makes me feel and the vibe and stuff. Oh, well...

 

By the way I loved Scott's story about buying presents for the little girl in the play. Big ole softy.

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Putting this here so it doesn't get lost to twitter timeline fade: Scott just tweeted the Drive video screenshot, and it's as amazing as you thought!

 

DcOI-9IX4AE4sMD.jpg

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At first, I was annoyed that they didn't use (IT'S BEEN) "One Week" as the theme song for "It's Been a Week", but then I realized that the song they did use is by Letters to Cleo, a band whose shirt Adam famously wore on Parks & Rec, so that was even better.

 

As for Haaarrriem, I generally like their earlier stuff more, but based on the songs I already knew and the clips of other songs here, this album seems really good.

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While there's a few of their albums I flip back and forth on, generally Automatic is my favorite REM record. When I think about it, I think "this is REM... IN CONTROL." They could do anything. They make a generally maudlin simple track sound terrific (Everybody Hurts is not my cup of tea, but they way its recorded--it stops itself from feeling overly sentimental). They bring some songs with muscle (Ignoreland). Instrumentals. Optimistic hopeful beautiful tracks. Sad atmospheric stuff. Absorbing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" into some weird hybrid rock. Slow, fast, whatever. The band was just so impressively in control of their creativity.

 

There's a couple of melodies here and there that don't hit me personally. But that's minor complaint. "Sweetness Follows" is a favorite REM song of mine (if I recall, it's also one of the band's. they LOVE that "Country Feedback" template of acoustic guitar/feedback/soundscape with spoken words.) "Find The River" is an all-time favorite song of mine as well. These are, technically, deep cuts, which is why the album is a classic.

 

Also wanted to add I LOVE that the Scotts kept pointing out John Paul Jones' work here. I've had that discussion number of times with people. His work here is so rich and incredible -- the songs with strings are clear standouts. Especially "Drive" and "Nightswimming." He was a perfect collaborator for them (and anyone who he's worked with, tbh, from Diamanda Galas to The Butthole Surfers), but I digress...

 

Current album rating:

1. Automatic For The People

2. Fables Of The Reconstruction

3. Murmur

4. Reckoning

5. Out Of Time

6. Document

7. Lifes Rich Pageant

8. Green

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but then I realized that the song they did use is by Letters to Cleo, a band whose shirt Adam famously wore on Parks & Rec, so that was even better.

 

Then they PERFORMED on P&R!

 

Any way, speaking of TMBG, that "Fruity Organ" piece sounded very very TMBG-esque.

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"Fruity Organ" reminded me of Deadeye Dick's "New Age Girl" which was huge a few years later.

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Then they PERFORMED on P&R!

 

 

Also on the roof of the school in 10 Things I Hate About You.

 

Wait, are we exchanging letters about Letters to Cleo?

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In this episode, Scott mentions a band that was "like the Cure" and I think he said "June", but I looked them up and the only band called "June" is one from the mid 2000's in Chicago.

 

Does anyone know of what he spoke? Thanks in advance!

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My ranking of the songs:

 

1. Find the River

2. Everybody Hurts

3. The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite

4. Nightswimming

5. Drive

6. Monty Got a Raw Deal

7. Try Not to Breathe

8. Man on the Moon

9. Sweetness Follows

10. Ignoreland

11. Star Me Kitten

12. New Orleans Instrumental No. 1

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When my favorite band (alongside The Smiths) exploded with Losing My Religion I got so sick of the whole band I couldn't listen to them for quite some time (I had a similar experience with Nirvana's Nevermind). Then this album came out and I freaking loved it. Automatic and Murmur are both on my top ten albums of all time, and Find The River is one of the most underrated songs in history IMO.

 

I've lost interest in the band a couple of years here and there, but I always return. Thanks to this podcast I return once again, and you've made me listen closer to tracks I previously never really focused on. The sequencing discussions are great by the way!

 

I think Around The Sun was a bit overlooked, so really looking forward to that episode. Just saw Staind Glass 2 was released today and a big smile came over my face. Instead of taking the subway home after work I'll walk the streets of Oslo listening to Todd Glass complete lack of knowledge about R.E.M. (I suspect). I know I'll have a smirk on my face. CBB, U talkin' U2 and now this is such a great listen when life is at it's shittiest. You've helped me laugh during some really dark times, and for that I thank you.

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