R.E.M.

In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003

(Warner Brothers)

****

I once saw Michael Stipe at an Elliott Smith show in Los Angeles. He was there with Courtney Love, who swaggered in on his arm in a way that screamed self-importance far louder than the man onstage ever possibly could. This has absolutely nothing to do with In Time, the inevitable best-of disc that spans the last 15 years of R.E.M.'s often befuddling and breathtaking career, and a decade and a half romp that has turned out moments that have been both inspired and surprised by the bouts with fame that would come with it. The title, they say, is a bit of an olive branch: a hope that these hits both major and minor will, for once, sound in sync with all that currently makes the world turn. A quick check of recent events confirms that Stipe is still confused by fame, Courtney is still dazed by her own delusions of it, and Elliott is no longer with us. You win, Michael: "Everybody Hurts" has never sounded more perfect. TREVOR KELLEY

DWAYNE SODAHBERK

Unfortunately

(Tigerbeat 6)

****

As more indierockers discover the potential of digital music technology and digitally obsessed innovators realize the benefit of humanizing their music with analog instruments, music lovers will continually be blessed (and cursed) with new hybrids. With Unfortunately, Swedish artist Dwayne Sodahberk blends melancholic indierock songwriting and instrumentation with ear-tickling electronic aesthetics. The result is a blessing. Electro heads will dig the shards of noise, heavy processing and the staggering palate of electronic sound, while rockers will love the good old guitars, acoustic drums and other acoustic/electric instruments dominating these songs. Sodahberk's hybridity may eventually acquire a clever genre moniker, but producing engaging music is a worthy accomplishment. AARON MILES

ERASE ERRATA

At Crystal Palace

(Troubleman Unlimited)

****

If you were the type of child who took things apart to see how they work, Erase Errata's At Crystal Palace may feel daunting. Like some mechanical contraption teeming with springs, gears, and levers, each song is impossible to sort into parts. Sounds twist, tangle, and then suddenly break free, stretching to their furthest before reuniting in a spectacular collision, or maybe dead silence. It's unfortunate that a band who actually listens to each other is so rare that this alone deserves praise, but the interlaced, self-reliant form of their songs is a realization of their politic. Erase Errata's music is not a call to arms, it's a self-definition that extends a challenge. The dissatisfaction that smashes windows and scrawls graffiti lives in these songs, but so does the refusal to participate that inspires people to build their own communities. Unapologetic, defiant and strong, this is the threat that will topple empires. ETHAN SWAN

**** Lorina Sparkling French Lemonade

*** San Pellegrino Limonata

** Jarritos Toronja

* Pineapple Faygo