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Shawn McNulty
Acrylic and Pumice on Canvas

Reckoning is an original abstract painting on canvas by visual artist Shawn McNulty. This painting is is 1.5″ deep, gallery wrapped with painted edges, and ready to hang with wire on the back.

Fun Fact: The day of reckoning refers to the time, typically right after death, when one accounts for their actions, pays debts, and fulfills obligations. Check out the movie Defending Your Life by Albert Brooks for more information. My painting Reckoning, however, is only that dramatic in its unique composition. The title comes from the REM album of the same name. Check out the entire REM series. This painting was part of my Striations exhibition at Rosalux Gallery.

R.E.M.’s “Reckoning”: A Sonic Journey Through Southern Jangle

Released in 1984, R.E.M.’s second studio album, “Reckoning,” stands as a testament to the band’s ability to craft evocative, jangle-pop landscapes. Following the success of their debut album, “Murmur,” the Athens, Georgia-based quartet continued to refine their sound and deliver an album that would solidify their place in the alternative rock scene. “Reckoning” remains a sonic journey through the heart of Southern jangle, filled with rich melodies, enigmatic lyrics, and a sense of introspective urgency.

The Jangle-Pop Aesthetic:

From the opening chords of “Harborcoat,” “Reckoning” immerses the listener in the signature jangle-pop aesthetic that became synonymous with R.E.M.’s early sound. The combination of Peter Buck’s chiming guitar work and Michael Stipe’s enigmatic vocals creates a distinctive sonic tapestry that defines the album. The jangly, arpeggiated guitar riffs throughout the album became a hallmark of R.E.M.’s style and influenced countless bands in the alternative and indie rock scenes that followed.

Melodic Richness:

“Reckoning” is a treasure trove of melodic richness. Tracks like “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” and “Pretty Persuasion” showcase the band’s ability to craft infectious hooks that linger in the mind long after the music has stopped. The interplay between Buck’s jangly guitar lines, Mike Mills’ melodic bass, and Bill Berry’s precise drumming creates a synergy that propels the album forward with unwavering energy.

Introspective Lyrics:

Michael Stipe’s lyrics on “Reckoning” delve into a realm of introspection and ambiguity. The enigmatic nature of his words invites listeners to interpret and connect with the songs on a personal level. Whether contemplating love, loss, or the complexities of human relationships, Stipe’s poetic and often cryptic lyrics add an additional layer of depth to the album, encouraging repeated listens for those eager to unravel the meanings within.

Dynamic Range:

One of the strengths of “Reckoning” lies in its dynamic range. The album effortlessly transitions between subdued, contemplative moments and more energetic, up-tempo tracks. “Time After Time (Annelise)” showcases the band’s ability to build tension and release it in a burst of musical energy, creating a captivating ebb and flow throughout the album.

Standout Tracks:

Several tracks on “Reckoning” have rightfully earned their status as classics in R.E.M.’s discography. “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” with its haunting chorus and melancholic vibe remains a standout. The urgency of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” and the dreamy atmosphere of “Camera” contribute to the album’s diversity, showcasing the band’s ability to explore different moods within a cohesive musical framework.

Legacy and Influence:

“Reckoning” solidified R.E.M.’s status as pioneers in the alternative rock genre. Its impact extended far beyond its initial release, influencing subsequent generations of musicians and shaping the sound of alternative and indie rock in the years to come. The album’s timeless quality is evident in its ability to resonate with both longtime fans who experienced its release and new listeners discovering its magic years later.


“Reckoning” remains a high watermark in R.E.M.’s illustrious career, capturing the band at a pivotal moment in their evolution. Its timeless melodies, enigmatic lyrics, and distinctive jangle-pop sound have secured its place as a classic in the alternative rock canon. With each listen, “Reckoning” invites the audience to rediscover its intricate layers, ensuring that its sonic journey through Southern jangle continues to captivate and inspire music enthusiasts across generations.


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