On that note

Whenever a recording artist plugs his or her latest project, the disc is always the best ever. Just once, it would be nice to hear a performer note that "the new material just isn’t up to my first album. I could have done better."

One of the few bands that avoids hyperbole when describing its new work is R.E.M. Even when the group was the darling of college rock and perhaps the best band in America in the mid-1980s, the quartet kept the boasting to a minimum.

However, the word out of Seattle is that R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck is raving that the band’s half-finished next album is its best to date. Before Buck’s claims are tossed into the dustbin, consider that he is comparing the new material to the tracks from Document, the band’s 1987 high-water mark.

The last few R.E.M. albums have been less than stellar. It’s noteworthy whenever a band harks back to a creative peak as opposed to forging ahead and coming up empty. (Paging David Bowie!) So if R.E.M. indeed is looking back, good for the band and the rest of us. The disc is slated for next year.

R.E.M. will tour in the fall to support a greatest-hits collection that will include Bad Day, a never-released fan favorite and much-bootlegged track recorded during the Document sessions. Ed Harcourt, Sparklehorse, Pete Yorn and Wilco are among the handpicked opening acts.

Speaking of Wilco, how cool is the June 29 double bill that features Jeff Tweedy’s band and Sonic Youth at the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing? You get two diverse bands: the former, a brilliant alt-country act that crafts some of the smartest and catchiest tunes in contemporary rock; and the latter, a group driven by a pair of guitar virtuosos and an underheralded rhythm section. Sonic Youth has been way ahead of its time since the mid-’80s.

Many folks wrote off Great White after the band’s pyrotechnics started a fire at a Rhode Island club in February that killed 100 people. Well, the band has announced that it will embark on a 55-city nationwide tour to benefit the families of victims and survivors of the tragedy. Warrant and L.A. Guns may join Great White for the tour, which is set to start in June.

Great White will donate its part of the profits, and some of the other bands are likely to kick in some of their proceeds. Just in case you were wondering, there will be no pyrotechnics at the shows.

During the last week, three lawsuits against Great White were dropped. One was cancelled due to the band’s lack of funds. But that doesn’t mean the group won’t appear in court. The members of Great White are expected to be named in more than a dozen new lawsuits in coming months.

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Jane Kiefer
Jane Kiefer, a seasoned journalist with a rich background in digital media strategies, leads South Philly Review as its Editor-in-Chief. Originally hailing from Seattle, Jane combines her outsider perspective with a profound respect for South Philly's vibrant community, bringing fresh insights and innovative storytelling to the newspaper.