Boxcars are POLLing out of...REM's "Chronic Town"

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The tracks are few but proud. Dig in! I'm going to overlap these from now on, so they'll still be two weeks each but those hungry for the next discussion won't have to wait so long.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
"Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)" – 3:54 22
"Gardening at Night" – 3:29 12
"Wolves, Lower" – 4:10 10
"1,000,000" – 3:06 2
"Stumble" – 5:40 2


Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 00:12 (nine years ago) Permalink

For me, this is TS: "Suspicion yourself, suspicion yourself, don't get caught" vs "Not only deadlier but smarter too!" vs Mike Mills's background wailing on "Carnival of Sorts." This is the fiercest, freakiest record they ever cut, and really took me by surprise when I picked it up. "Stumble" and "Gardening" are the odd ones out to me - they could fit very comfortably on Murmur while the rest are these hepped up, kudzu no-wave adventures into the unknown. Amazing record in any case.

Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 00:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

Yeah this is definitely one of the best records ever. Light years beyond anything else they ever did. My favorite is "Wolves Lower." I wish they had stayed with this energetic confident punk-folk style for an album or two before slowing down like they did on Murmur or Fables (both great records, but still). I guess the closest they would ever get to this style again are the faster songs on Lifes Rich Pageant, like "I Believe" or "Just a Touch." Ah well.

Mr. Snrub, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 01:28 (nine years ago) Permalink

i remember my dad brought this home shortly after it came out because they had it on in the record store and he thought it sounded cool. i got sort of obsessed with it -- the gargoyle on the cover, everything about it was mysterious. later on, whenever i put on another r r.e.m. album, dad would say "i don't hear anything as good as 'carnival of sorts'."

tipsy mothra, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 01:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

It really is like the work of a different band - different both from the shuffling, mumbling wizards of Murmur AND the genial party-rock ravers you hear on early live recordings. Maybe it's just because I've never heard early live recordings of these songs, so they just seem to come out of nowhere and then disappear back thataway.

Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 01:43 (nine years ago) Permalink

Carnival. Light years almost as good as Murmur.

served by boot-face (contenderizer), Wednesday, 31 December 2008 06:21 (nine years ago) Permalink

I wish they had stayed with this energetic confident punk-folk style for an album or two before slowing down like they did on Murmur or Fables (both great records, but still).

I completely agree. A few songs on Murmur sound like they would fit into Chronic Town, but yeah, they had clearly already shifted gears.

"Gardening at Night" is probably my fav REM song.

2 5 (Z S), Wednesday, 31 December 2008 06:28 (nine years ago) Permalink

Carnival of Sorts, with Gardening at Night a close second.

the other Alex in MTL, in fact (Alex in Montreal), Wednesday, 31 December 2008 06:37 (nine years ago) Permalink

probably "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)" but it's pretty hard to call one of these over the others.

extremely intoxicated & uncooperative outside a Hסּסּters in Winston-Salem (will), Wednesday, 31 December 2008 14:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

"carnival of sorts." if these five songs were the first half of an album with an equally amazing second half, it would be the best thing they ever did

kamerad, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 15:02 (nine years ago) Permalink

I just listened to this, and while my sentimental vote will always be for "Gardening at Night" (too many memories etc), today I will vote for "Stumble". As I walked around the lake it sounded like the soundtrack to Odysseus' raid of the cattle of Helios. Whatever they're doing is probably wrong---if they were stumbling through *your* yard you'd probably be upset---but you realize they're just doing what free people do.

Euler, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 15:21 (nine years ago) Permalink

I thought this would be a hard choice, but it's really not. Box Cars is the one that really tears my attention away from whatever it is I'm doing and gets me all hot and bothered. I can't even sit down when I'm hearing that.

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Wednesday, 31 December 2008 21:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)! I love this whole EP. I didn't own it separate from Dead Letter Office until sometime in the 90s when I found a mint copy of the vinyl for a dollar.

brotherlovesdub, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 21:48 (nine years ago) Permalink

Another vote for "Carnival."

ilx chilton (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 31 December 2008 21:56 (nine years ago) Permalink

Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)! I love this whole EP. I didn't own it separate from Dead Letter Office until sometime in the 90s when I found a mint copy of the vinyl for a dollar

totally j

i found it around '97 on cassette in a gas station in Delta, Louisiana. i think i paid around $4 for it.

extremely intoxicated & uncooperative outside a Hסּסּters in Winston-Salem (will), Wednesday, 31 December 2008 22:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

I remember riding my bicycle home from the record store in the rain with this balanced on the handlebars i.e. I courted death AND IT WAS WORTH IT.

PS every track is awesome but come on: Carnival

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Wednesday, 31 December 2008 23:33 (nine years ago) Permalink

Wow, are we headed for our first undisputed landslide? Will have to listen to this again later tonight so I can call out specific awesome things about "Wolves, Lower" and "1,000,000" by name.

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 1 January 2009 00:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

Voted "Wolves Lower".

Alex in SF, Thursday, 1 January 2009 00:08 (nine years ago) Permalink

tipsy mothra, Thursday, 1 January 2009 00:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

hoouuuuse innn or-derrrrrr

This album kind of epitomizes what I was trying to get at with this old thread: Key Moments of Stridency In Songs Where You Have No Idea What They're Talking About But You Sing Along Anyway

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 1 January 2009 01:16 (nine years ago) Permalink

Masterpiece post-punk motherfucker. Look at the sleeve!

Any unaware and interested "80'S BABIES" TAKE NOTE. This is one hell of a classic post-punk record right here.

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Thursday, 1 January 2009 02:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

...I'm an 80s baby, but I had CDNow reviews, living in Athens, and a poster of the album cover on the dorm wall of a girl I fancied, so maybe I cheated.

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 1 January 2009 02:51 (nine years ago) Permalink

hahahahah A+++

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Thursday, 1 January 2009 03:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

Thanks for the video, Jesse. Mike Mills does that Bruce Foxton Rickenbacker maybe better than Bruce does it. After all these years still can't understand the words: "Gentlemen don't get caught/Pages under cage?"

ilx chilton (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 January 2009 03:26 (nine years ago) Permalink

*wink*

"80's Baby" (Z S), Thursday, 1 January 2009 03:35 (nine years ago) Permalink

Holy shit that Carnival You Tube clip.

Did I mention I love this board?

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Thursday, 1 January 2009 08:56 (nine years ago) Permalink

Was introduced to Chronic Town by a friend who attended Davidson College (just outside of Charlotte, NC). REM played frat parties up there frequently in the early years. After hearing the record I was insanely jealous. Great to see the YouTube clip from the era... Stipe in glasses, though, yikes.

that's not my post, Thursday, 1 January 2009 22:54 (nine years ago) Permalink

What's weird is, as demonstrated on earlier polls I'm every inch a snotty "I prefer their earlier work" R.E.M. fan but for whatever reason I find Chronic Town less interesting than all the IRS albums that followed -- I mean, at the time (or rather, in 1988 when I first heard this) it would have been "Carnival," easy, but now I think the material of that song -- boxcars, weeping willows, torn posters -- are TOO directly referential to the kind of small-town mysticism they were trying to convey. Surely "Driver 8" does it much better. I voted "1,000,000" for the opening chords.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Friday, 2 January 2009 05:41 (nine years ago) Permalink

interesting, except there's no "weeping willow" in the song. it's a "reaping wheel," an image that would have done "driver 8" proud. speaking definitively of early stipe lyrics is a fool's game sometimes cuz of all the murmuring, but not in this case. there's only nine syllables in that line, not ten

kamerad, Friday, 2 January 2009 16:08 (nine years ago) Permalink

I think the point is still interesting though. I don't read it as a conscious milking of Southern Gothic mystique but I can understand how that would come across, in comparison to the more organized poetry of the following records, where the imagery is in clearer service of emotions, moods, characters, etc. "Chronic Town" is all scene-painting, which is fine by me given the amount of energy the band brings to the table.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 2 January 2009 16:16 (nine years ago) Permalink

i picked 1000000. man i loved this ep when it dropped. havent heard any of it for at least 15 years tho. i always thought it was "cages under cage" as in the boxcars were loaded up with circus animals.

Booker van Permalink (Hunt3r), Friday, 2 January 2009 16:17 (nine years ago) Permalink

Wolves, Lower just for the title.

Ye Mad Puffin, Friday, 2 January 2009 16:20 (nine years ago) Permalink

whenever i think of them i see them as the murmur era poster in my bedroom. they are standing in front of a red loading dock door, in dissolve/double exposure.

Booker van Permalink (Hunt3r), Friday, 2 January 2009 16:20 (nine years ago) Permalink

I also hear "Cages under cage," but hadn't made the leap to circus animals, which I quite like. Nice!

Doctor Casino, Friday, 2 January 2009 16:26 (nine years ago) Permalink

Oh god I want to die:

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Saturday, 3 January 2009 19:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

Whoops wrong one! oops! Wait...
&

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Saturday, 3 January 2009 19:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

wow! that was impressive.

brotherlovesdub, Saturday, 3 January 2009 21:31 (nine years ago) Permalink

Stipey been drinkin'!

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Saturday, 3 January 2009 22:13 (nine years ago) Permalink

Suspicion Yourself, Suspicion yourself,
don't get caught.

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Sunday, 4 January 2009 08:09 (nine years ago) Permalink

OMG I had no memory of that Livewire show on Nickelodeon until just moments ago. Also, killer performance.

Johnny Fever, Sunday, 4 January 2009 08:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

chronic town, poster torn, weeping wheel

secret, stigma, reaping wheel

carnival of sorts

chronic town, poster torn, reaping wheel

box cars

are pulling

OUT OF TOWN

Gentlemen, don't get caught
cages under cage

secret
stigma
wheeping wheel
stranger to these parts
diminished
stranger
gentlemen don't get caught
cages under cage
out of town

out of town

out of town

I could live a million.

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Sunday, 4 January 2009 08:19 (nine years ago) Permalink

not only deadlier but smarter too
smarter too

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Sunday, 4 January 2009 08:19 (nine years ago) Permalink

We'll stumble through the yard.

Ball & chain.

With Oatmeal Sauce (Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You), Sunday, 4 January 2009 08:22 (nine years ago) Permalink

Who's the guy playing guitar in that clip who's not Buck?

Guayaquil (eephus!), Sunday, 4 January 2009 16:34 (nine years ago) Permalink

I remember riding my bicycle home from the record store in the rain with this balanced on the handlebars i.e. I courted death AND IT WAS WORTH IT.

and
i remember my dad brought this home shortly after it came out because they had it on in the record store and he thought it sounded cool [..] later on, whenever i put on another r.e.m. album, dad would say "i don't hear anything as good as 'carnival of sorts'."

..make me realize how sad it is that I've never held physical copies / CD cases of even my very favorite albums.

Kyle Clewett (bassace), Sunday, 4 January 2009 20:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

Wolves, Lower I guess?? Cannot overstate what this EP does to me.

Fela Cutie (wanko ergo sum), Sunday, 4 January 2009 23:29 (nine years ago) Permalink

how sad it is that I've never held physical copies / CD cases of even my very favorite albums.

Wha...?

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Sunday, 4 January 2009 23:34 (nine years ago) Permalink

Yeah, are you from the future or what?

Doctor Casino, Sunday, 4 January 2009 23:37 (nine years ago) Permalink

Please to click on Kim's Video link.

ilx chilton (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 4 January 2009 23:38 (nine years ago) Permalink

It's kind of not helping.

Doctor Casino, Sunday, 4 January 2009 23:39 (nine years ago) Permalink

Wolves, but man, they are all so good.

Mark, Monday, 5 January 2009 00:41 (nine years ago) Permalink

So is "Carnival" based on this Carnival of Souls?

ilx chilton (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 5 January 2009 01:54 (nine years ago) Permalink

Until I watched that video I was never quite aware of those crucial Bill Berry backing vocals.

ilx chilton (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 5 January 2009 03:04 (nine years ago) Permalink

Wild to see video shot at The Pier. Great Raleigh club from the early 80s.

that's not my post, Monday, 5 January 2009 05:22 (nine years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Monday, 12 January 2009 00:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Tuesday, 13 January 2009 00:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

Decisive but fascinating. Thanks for playing, everyone! Next poll going up shortly...

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 13 January 2009 00:02 (nine years ago) Permalink

nine years pass...

https://www.facebook.com/chronictown/
“music venue • record store • pinball arcade • café • kava bar • vegan waffles • organic smoothies • artisan glass • stereo repair”

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Thursday, 5 July 2018 02:46 (four months ago) Permalink

Pure gold start to finish, hard to think of any track being that much better than any other

rip van wanko, Thursday, 5 July 2018 02:55 (four months ago) Permalink

I still have my autographed copy of this EP. The band member who shares my first name wrote "sorry about the name, pal".

the ignatius rock of ignorance (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 5 July 2018 02:56 (four months ago) Permalink

I agree w/RVW – the idea of “ranking” these tracks is a bit of a head-scratcher: they’re a perfect set.

(Dr. M – that’s awesome; I’m guessing it was Bill...?)

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Thursday, 5 July 2018 03:00 (four months ago) Permalink

One of my my favorite musical moments™ is when the bassine under the verse in “Stumble” shifts by one note – subtly, but with great impact – in its final iteration (after the “Don’t need that... jazz” bridge freakout section).

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Thursday, 5 July 2018 03:04 (four months ago) Permalink

"Coffee Shop in State College, Pennsylvania"

oh HELL no, don't EVEN

Brad C., Thursday, 5 July 2018 13:22 (four months ago) Permalink

I just went to look up who owns this because I lived in State College for two years where one of my only friends (miccio who used to post here) was also a huge REM fan. This turns out to be the only hookah bar I have ever been to in my life- used to be called Tall Shiva.

Yerac, Thursday, 5 July 2018 13:28 (four months ago) Permalink

Watch for my vape shop themed to the first 10,000 Maniacs EP — it’s called
Secrets of the E-Cig.

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Thursday, 5 July 2018 13:48 (four months ago) Permalink

xp not hating on PSU or State College, I enjoyed my one visit, but an establishment named Chronic Town ought to be located in Chronic Town

This EP is a better representation of what their shows sounded like 1981-83 than Murmur

Brad C., Thursday, 5 July 2018 13:55 (four months ago) Permalink

We need to hate on it because it's a hookah bar. And State College sucks (sorry PSU'ers).

Yerac, Thursday, 5 July 2018 13:58 (four months ago) Permalink


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