Thursday 21 September 2023

Under the influence

I love REM, and have a special fondness for the IRS years when you couldn't always make out what Michael was singing about and Peter's Rickenbacker jangle was at its jangliest.

Of course, that is a finite resource. Even in the unlikely event that REM were to reconvene, that 1980s sound is gone forever. It is a relic of a different age. Murmur is over 40 years old, lest we forget.

So how to scratch the itch? Well, a bit of Googling led me to this forum discussion about bands with a similar sound to early REM. It makes for an interesting read, not least because it showcases how many wildly different opinions there must be on what early REM sounded like, given some of the suggestions. Anyway, one band name that kept popping up was The Decemberists, and particularly their album The King Is Dead. So I had a listen, and you know what? On occasion, they do sound a bit like Athens' finest. Turns out that one Peter Buck guests on three of the album tracks, and you can tell which. For me, this is the most REMarkable track:

You see, I hear this and can't help but think of a slightly faster version of this, and not just because of the intro either:

I don't know what my point is. We're all a product of our influences, aren't we, so... what? I guess the key is to be a product of them without being in their thrall. The Decemberists manage this, I think. Good on them.Tip the author


  1. I like the Decembrists a lot, but I've never thought of them in connection with REM. I can hear what you mean though.

    1. Maybe it's just this album, with the Buck collaboration.

    2. Have you heard the stuff Peter Buck has been doing with Luke Haines? It's very... Luke Haines.

    3. No. But now I need to investigate.