R.E.M. are certainly taking advantage of this slow time in new music news: the veteran rock act has announced the released date for forthcoming new album "Collapse Into Now," and is even giving away its first track for free.

"Discoverer" can be yours for the price of your front teeth email address through R.E.M.'s homepage. Additionally, those who pre-order "Collapse" via iTuned during the week of Dec. 20 will get a free download of "It Happened Today." Radio free downloads. The set is out on March 8, 2011

According to a release, the band -- Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills -- have brought some special friends on board to round out the record: notably, Patti Smith, guitarist Lenny Kaye, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, electro-freak Peaches and The Hidden Cameras' (!!) Joel Gibb.

[More after the jump...]

Below, too, is the album cover. All sorts of goodies!

Plus, I rather like the song. It's your typical first-song, intro-rocker, with the familiar, high-register guitar lines and an excellent pop to the drums (would that be from producer Jackknife Lee?). It's got that old-school R.E.M. drama to it, with Stipe reporting, "Hey baby/ this is not a challenge/ just means that I love you as much as I said I did." They keep is simple with the chorus, an easy one to singalong in concert.

Here is the tracklist for "Collapse Into Now":

01. Discoverer
02. All The Best
03. Uberlin
04. Oh My Heart
05. It Happened Today
06. Every Day Is Yours To Win
07. Mine Smell Like Honey
08. Walk It Back
09. Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter
10. That Someone Is You
11. Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I
12. Blue

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