R.E.M. Returns with 15th album

The long awaited R.E.M. album, "Collapse Into Now" on Warner Bros. Records is anything from a collapse. R.E.M. has finally released their 15th album on March 8, 2011. Yes, 15 albums – and it's a wonderful time machine back to their success in the late 80's to the early 90's. The band was formed in 1980 in Athens, Georgia and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. R.E.M. is known for mega hits like "Get Up," "Losing My Religion," "Shiny Happy People," "Everybody Hurts," and "Man on the Moon."

The band includes guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Michael Mills, and front man Michael Stipe.

Michael Stipe's voice is emotionally charged and wonderfully blended into songs with other music greats like Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) on "It Happened Today," Patti Smith on "Discoverer" & "Blue," and Peaches on "Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter".

Their new single, "Mine Smell Like Honey" alone makes the album worth every penny. Stipe slowly works the verse till he charges forward into an ear-catching chorus. Mike Mills brings the best in the hook, backing Stipes's vocals, while Peter Buck shows off his intricate guitar playing.

Behind the mixing board, Grammy Award-winning producer Jacknife Lee shows his full producing range, blending a perfect recipe of in-your-face songs like "Discoverer" and "Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter," to the softer songs "Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I" and "Walk it Back."

"Uberlin" is a reminder of their previous 1987 hit, "The One I Love." With metaphorical lyrics like "I am flying on a star into a meteor tonight. I will make it through the day and then the day becomes the night," creates a chorus you not only want to bob your head to, but listen to intently.

Overall, Mills's smooth bass lines and backing vocals push the music towards the promise land, cutting no corners. Buck's mandolin and guitar playing adds a more expansive sound than any of their previous albums. Stipe's catchy, obscure lyrics and whaling melodies gives R.E.M. followers a familiar air.

R.E.M. uses "Collapse Into Now" as a spear, piercing all who doubt that they still have what it takes and have proven that they're not just alternative-rock icons, but still a driving force in today's hit music.