Special Announcement: Drive XV

October 2, 2007

Drive XV, Stereogum’s tribute to Automatic For The People, launched today, and you really ought to check it out. In addition to free mp3s of covers of every track on the record by a range of indie rock acts, the mini-site includes an essay about the album written by myself, along with comments from Mike Mills on each of the songs. I conducted the interview with Mike last week, and a longer Q&A about the new live dvd/cd set and the forthcoming album will appear on Stereogum in a couple weeks.

A big thank you is due to the guys at Stereogum for making this happen, and to David Bell, Bertis Downs, and Mike Mills for being so great about getting that interview together.

Also, if for some reason you can only hear one of those covers, you should make sure that it’s Dr. Dog’s version of “Find The River,” because it’s lovely.


46 Responses to “Special Announcement: Drive XV”

  1. kirkl100 Says:

    hey matthew.
    how cool is this?

  2. adam Says:

    meat puppets cover of everybody hurts is amazingly brilliant

  3. Heyberto Says:

    Can’t wait to get home and listen. Good work Matthew.. thanks for contributing and sharing!

  4. David Says:

    As a fellow Pavement fan, Stereogum fan, and Mike Mills fan (he and Bertis are the bees’ knees), I offer hearty congratulations and appreciation.

    Great site(s) per usual, sir.

  5. xman Says:

    wow. rogue wave’s “sidewinder” is nuts! thats how to cover a song, fer sure. the “ignoreland” cover is awesome, awesome- (dont tell stipe, but i think i like it better than the original- you can hear the song really breathe)

    this is waaaaaaaaay better than the time dashboard confessiona covered aftp lol

  6. Ignis Sol Says:

    Thanks, Matthew for the reminder! I am dying to sneak a listen at my desk…gloomy day at a corporate hq….there is always R.E.M. when I get home!

  7. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    I agree with you that Find The River stands out. I also like the version of Drive, with a touch of country added to it, yet still dark (darker) and forboding. Fun tracks.

  8. Tom Coe Says:

    Nice piece, Matthew. But I gotta say that after checking out the tracks, this might be the worst tribute album I’ve ever heard. Utterly unlistenable.

  9. ScottMalobisky Says:

    tell Millzy I had a flashback yesterday when the Rockies came from behind in the 13th to defeat the Padres..(and the winning run didn’t even touch the plate !!); brought back the nightmare of his Braves against my beloved Bucs in ’92..Very Sid Breamish–that slide ,well,at least he touched the plate- and Kafkaesque, the circumstances leading up to it…..OK , got that out of the way , now to check out this stuff you speak of… Thanx guys.

  10. Tim Says:

    Cool tracks! Thanks.

  11. Kirsten Says:

    Special Announcement?? Shouldn’t that be Public Service Announcement?? 🙂

    As someone who has no access to MP3 or even an IPOD, I was wondering if you knew if it would be released on CD down under?

    Great essay by the way, Matthew.

  12. There are no plans to ever release it on cd, sorry! But surely someone can hook you up with a burned cd — if none of your local friends can help you out, I kinda owe you one for the live discs you sent me a while back.

  13. Kirsten Says:

    Thatnks Matthew. That’s a shame it’s not on CD. I was trying to do the right thing (I love giving all my money to REM), but I’ll get my brother to download it for me, I believe he has the technology.

    Just read the interviews with the bands and Mike’s comments – it sounds like it’s great, but I still feel a little protective of these songs. But I did really enjoy the cover of Tongue on the Christmas album a couple of years ago, so I’ll at least give it a chance. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    Nice comment on the gold tape, too. I’d forgotten about that (I tend to just listen to the CD these days). Great memories…

  14. Figgy Says:

    Thanks for pointing us in the direction of these tracks, Matthew. I’ve downloaded them and put them on my mp3 player – will give ’em a listen later.

    The comments from those who have already listened have whetted my appetite.

  15. Heyberto Says:

    I especially like what The Forms had to say about AFTP being a complete ‘album’ with all songs making an effective whole. That’s something that artists have gotten out of touch with, and I think REM has done it better than anyone on almost all of their albums. Not one sounds the same. I haven’t always enjoyed them all, but I can agree that they continue to chart unexplored territory with each one. AFTP is certainly one of the top.

  16. Brian Says:

    Sweet Jesus. This can’t download fast enough.

  17. Ignis Sol Says:

    I just had a chance to listen to (and download) Drive XV and read your piece, Matthew. Your keen review is a unique perspective and I really like you broke down the album with its various subjects and how they all tie in to one hidden theme: life not death. It is so heartening to read earnest writing from some one who is younger for a band I have loved since I was young.

    Once I spend more time listening to the covers, I can comment on those. Upon first listening, I am intrigued…

  18. Paul Alferink Says:

    You talk to Mike? Did he happen to mention that the restraining order he has against me is just a joke, cause if not, I want all the toenail clipping I’ve been mailing him back.

    I’m just kidding. I would never make him give back the clippings. . .

  19. Figgy Says:

    And while you were talking to Mike, did you happen to ask him about what he was doing on that water tower?

  20. Dark Bob Says:

    It’s really cool that Blitzen Trapper is included. Can’t wait to hear this. Good job Matthew.

  21. Heyberto Says:

    After a good listen, I don’t know what to think of all of these. They’re all interesting takes on the source material, and I like that they’re not trying to make a carbon copy, but beyond an interesting listen, It isn’t something that will find it’s way into my CD player very often after the fact. I’d rather listen to the original. It’s such a great album, it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it justice. Covering REM is hard enough as it is, and while I’m not crazy about this rendition of the album, I respect what these artists have done with the material.

  22. Tim Says:

    I informed some of the REM fans on last.fm about the DriveXV site. Hope you don’t mind:)

  23. kris Says:

    Since we’re on the topic of covers, and covers of REM songs seem rare and far between, I was wondering if some of you could mention your favourite REM covers. I don’t know of too many, so I’m hoping you guys will be able to lead me to new musical directions. I’m Canadian, and an East Coast band called Great Big Sea did a cover of “it’s the end of the world as we know it” in the 1990s. They made the song sound a little too happy for my tastes, kinda taking the original tone of the song in a direction that didn’t quite ring with me. However, a few years ago Dashboard Confessional did an AFTP cover concert for MTV, and the performance was available as a DVD with one of their albums. I actually thought their version of ‘nightswimming’ was pretty charming. Stipe said he thought they approached the song the same way Kurt Cobain would’ve covered it – high praise indeed.

  24. 2d Says:

    what Heyberto said 🙂

  25. ADB Says:

    Great piece Matthew, and good to see ATFP’s 15th anniversary marked – tho’ it makes me feel very old! I listened to the tribute album this morning and it’s interesting if nothing else. I don’t think I’ll be listening to the Meat Puppets doing Everybody Hurts or the version of New Orleans Instrumental very often (or, probably, ever again!) but a few of the covers are actually pretty cool – the female duet on Sweetness Follows, the sunny Beach Boysy take on Find The River, Ignoreland is good and I love the funky bongo version of Man On The Moon.

    Looking foreward to the longer interview with Mr Mills – any chance of a sneak preview or two about the new album for us loyal Pop Songs contributors…?!

  26. dumbek Says:

    Listening to this now. So far I’m loving it. Thanks for putting this together.

  27. Flandall Says:

    Fine, fine essay on AFTP, Matthew. It’s easy to tell that the musicians involved in the Drive XV project had tremendous respect for R.E.M. and Automatic. Wonderful project, wonderful essay.

  28. Paul Alferink Says:

    My favorite REM cover is 10,000 maniacs cover of “Don’t go back to Rockville.” It’s nicely done, fairly straight without REM silliness.

  29. Kirsten Says:

    Leaving work now to go and listen to the old “Gold Tape” of AFTP to celebrate. Ahh, the days before CDs…
    Have a good weekend y’all.

  30. ScottMalobisky Says:

    working on this , when I finally get a listen I’m , uh , gonna listen to the first song and write a very brief comment —just my initial reaction whatever comes to mind without thinking to much about it– then do the same for the second…..etc….have a little fun with it……..

  31. ScottMalobisky Says:

    DRIVE : dreary not driving dullsville drone, diagnosis of terminal ennui , prognosis of no dice, no drama in this sludge

  32. ScottMalobisky Says:

    TRY NOT TO BREATHE: disjointed , uncentered, the pieces don’t gel together , no empathy for the singer, he be whiny wallowing de stultify, though the organ is kinda cool, Ummagumma-esque, Salvia Divinorum influenced perhaps

  33. Kirsten Says:

    Glass-eyed optimism has been distorted into dismay now Scotty. Elegantly waiting for my opportunity to indulge and allow my ears to be reborn or brutally slaughtered.

  34. ScottMalobisky Says:

    The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite: spare your hammer, anvil , and stirrup the abuse (not to mention your brain and your sense of common decency)……sub-sub-substantially horrendous, this one

  35. ScottMalobisky Says:

    EVERY BODY HURTS: and these bodies stall only once in a lifetime , guaranteed…This rendition ain’t bad actually , better than I can do anyway (probably), drums are really there , pronounced………………..passable and worthy of a tribute album.

  36. ScottMalobisky Says:

    New Orleans Instrumental #1 : is , in this version , not an instrumental ….. there are vocal sounds–“doo doo doos” — but not words, faster tempo too. it’s kinda cool though too whimsically glad for my frustrated flayed soul today.

  37. ScottMalobisky Says:

    SWEETNESS FOLLOWS: was looking especially forward to this one….especially impressed by the way they managed to capture those hovering guitar parts of PB’s , that sad dissonant humming drone thing , not sure what instrument(s) is doing the capturing here , but it’s there ….this was interesting generally, the one part that I didn’t like was how the singer (s) sang , “ohoh sweetness follows” in a really annoyingly terse and squeaky way, not dragging out the syllables and totally not exuding the emotion of the original..(if you heard it you’ll know what I mean), and completely the wrong voice sound for the intended feeling , kinda like in the movie The Davinci Code where the totally miscast characters never seem afraid or aware of the urgency of the situation , they act like they’re on a Easter egg hunt or some other kids stuff, same feeling here with the vocal


  38. ScottMalobisky Says:

    MONTY GOT A RAW DEAL: imagine if you dare Tom Jones meets The White Stripes –add a horn or two in spots–bold ,neat take on this … I really like this one…put that on your reel to reel and smoke it

  39. ScottMalobisky Says:

    IGNORELAND: formless, absolutely unnuanced and abyssmal , half bad spoken word , half hammer head beating ; ignore this one unless you want to experience what the working defintion of butcher sounds like , or what happens to a truly exceptional song in the hands of a talentless imitator ..remember MP’s description of that live karaoke band’s delivery of Driver 8 ? precisely like that .

  40. ScottMalobisky Says:

    STAR ME KITTEN: elements of a vaguely Japanese Airbag, fascinating , slapdash acetylene sounds perking in a pot like bubbles of lava in a witches brew; really not much one can do with this song but they did it

  41. ScottMalobisky Says:

    MAN ON THE MOON: seems strange to hear that heretic Darwin mentioned in a Gregorian chant, was surprised by the personality of this one considering the name of the band, like they are trying to recite their prayers in a hushed church , not too loudly but loud enough for God to take notice. didn’t really care for this too much at first listen , who knows , maybe it’ll grow on me ..

  42. ScottMalobisky Says:

    Nightswimming : an unkempt chunk of pale abrasiveness, mostly unrecognizable and supremely annoying

  43. ScottMalobisky Says:

    FIND THE RIVER: which one is Dr.Dog, the first one or the one with the banjo ??–not famiiiar with the Good Doctor… So, I go to listen to the “last track” and I notice that there are 16 songs on the disc that my friend burned for me as opposed to the 12 orignally on AFTP , and I’m thinking that maybe he threw in a couple of personal surprises …but it turns out there are two versions of FTR followed by another MOTM—an acoustic singer songwriter solo sorta thing reminiscent of , perhaps, James Taylor or someone like that..followed by another TNTB and another TSST………hmnn …..Did anybody here see the noise see the cheer see the fuzzy-wuzzy compromise explosion ?

  44. ScottMalobisky Says:

    Epilogue–Monty Got A Raw Deal my favorite of the lot.

  45. Kirsten Says:

    Finally got my copy this morning. Will spend the weekend indulging…

  46. Kirsten Says:

    I thought Drive was really good. Probably what I would have done to it if I got my hands on it. I’ll be listening to this song again. Maybe just a sign of how good a song it really is.

    Sweetness follows was alright, but I was finding it a bit repetitive by the end. Never found that with the original.

    Sidewinder was completly unrecognisable.

    Everybody Hurts was crap. They sounded like the KNEW that they couldn’t pull it off. That’s why the vocals were so buried.

    I really liked New Orleans. They did a good job with that.

    Sweetness Follows: CRAP

    The only other song I can vaguely remember is Star Me Kitten. Did a good job with it, but probably could’ve / should’ve pushed the boundaries a little more.

    In summary? I won’t be throwing away REM’s AFTP for this. Not one song was a good as the original.

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