A few games back I picked up a little wooden Sabres hockey stick thing at the Sabres Store, you know to have around the house. For clutching during Sabres games (especially penalty kills), clubbing yourself unconscious during Sabres games (or if I come across Fox News), and lately for air guitar duty as I shred through R.E.M.'s latest. Yes, "Accelerate" is the best album in ten years from the best American band of the last thirty years. The hype is correct. Peter Buck rocks, it hits you upside the head, it's a manual for our troubled times, yadda yadda. Everything you've heard and read about it is true. But what's truly great about "Accelerate" is that it almost simultaneously exists in R.E.M.'s past and future; I used to have a bootleg tape of an early R.E.M. show from Tyrone's in Athens and this is what R.E.M. used to sound like before the jangly neo-Southern indie rock, before "Chronic Town" and "Murmurs," and it's this raw and pure sound that is driving R.E.M. to it's future and away from the dreck they've been socking us with on their last two albums.* Air guitar and R.E.M. together again at last.... in an election year no less! It's all good people. It's all good.
* Okay, "Reveal" wasn't total bunk, but it wasn't great either. There are indeed a couple of cuts that do save it from being as lame as "Around the Sun."