People are awfully pumped about the fourth full-length offering from The Strokes, and here comes R.E.M. with their 15th studio album, Collapse Into Now, being released next Tuesday. Sort of puts things into perspective, yeah? As if out to prove their worth in the age of quick-turnaround buzz bands and short attention spans, the band has commissioned 12 short films for each of the 12 tracks of the upcoming release, with the idea being to elevate visual aesthetics beyond the typical music video and expand the definition of what an album can be in the 21st century, as Michael Stipe explains to Dave Itzoff in the Times’ ArtsBeat today. So we’re not talking single-shot YouTube hits here, though I suddenly have an intense need to watch the video for “Everybody Hurts” right now.
While the film for pop surging single “Mine Smell Like Honey” has been available since January (watch it here), we get the next two in the series today: a beautifully shot, Tom Gilroy-directed clash of suburban life versus wild abandon as seen by a preadolescent boy for “It Happened Today” (watch it here) and the above video for “Überlin,” directed by Sam Taylor-Wood and featuring the guy who played John Lennon in Nowhere Boy really wanting to be in an iPod commercial and wearing a vintage R.E.M. t-shirt. Still making their way to various Internet outlets in the coming weeks are potential series highlights, including the Stipe-directed clip for “Discoverer,” films by “Driver 8″ and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” collaborator James Herbert, and videos for “That Someone Is You” and “Blue,” by — wait for it — James Franco. On a somewhat related note, Stipe performs tonight at the annual Tibet House Benefit Concert alongside Patti Smith, The Roots and more and will be a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, hopefully resulting in a life-long friendship and musical collaboration with Questlove.