R.E.M.'s debut album, released in 1983, was so far removed from the prevailing trends of American popular music that it still sounds miraculous and out of time today. J. Niimi tells the story of the album's genesis - with fascinating input from Don Dixon and Mitch Easter. He also investigates Michael Stipe's hypnotic, mysterious lyrics, and makes the case for Murmur as a work of Southern Gothic art.
J. Niimi writes about rock music for a number of publications including the Chicago Reader and Seattle Weekly, and is a regular contributor to City Pages. He worked as a studio engineer and record producer, and toured and recorded five albums with his band Ashtray Boy. He lives in Chicago, where he hosts Radio Zero, a weekly rock show on WHPK 88.5 FM.