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It's The End Of R.E.M. As We Know It And ... Oh, That Joke's Been Done. And So Are They.

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 21, 2011 9:00PM

Photo by Sandra-Lee Phipps from R.E.M.'s website
We know some folks out there are full of snarky comments in the wake of R.E.M.'s announcement today that they are breaking up. ("Wait, I didn't know they were still around!" Real original.) That doesn't make the band's dissolution any less depressing in our eyes though, especially since the trio finally seemed to have finally regained a bit of the swagger and power they lost when drummer Bill Berry left the band years ago. Since that point they group has drifted somewhat aimlessly trying to discover just who they were anymore, and it seemed like they might have finally begun to find the answer to that quest since this year's Collapse Into Now was their strongest outing since New Adventures In Hi-Fi was released over 15 years ago.

But maybe it's better this way. Now the band can go out on a relative high note rather than drift away as a wispy afterthought of any of the last decade's less centered albums. We're left with the memories of a band that hit superstardom in the late '80s via the college circuit, a feat unheard of at that time. Who would expect a mumbly mouthed quartet with an ear for both the Byrds and angular punky art pop to end up at the top of the charts? This particular writer was in high school at the time and we realized that Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Berry were at the forefront of a movement that would eventually lead to bands like Nirvana to dominate the airwaves. If you want to locate the true roots of the Alternative Nation -- the bands that got the mainstream to fall in love with the underground -- these Athens boys are pretty close to, if not the, patient zero.

So long guys, and thanks for everything.