Sunday, February 9, 2014

Counting Crows Underwater Sunshine Tyrannosaurus Records 2012

Rumors of their death have been greatly exaggerated! I should know, I started most of them.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
 
The Counting Crows are an odd quirky little band and perhaps one of the few bright spots on the rock and roll island of misfit toys. They started off with an REM like vibe and were setting the industry on fire only to have an epic crash and burn yet...here they are. I like that. Granted they have released greatest hits packages and a handful of live recordings of the same tunes (please note they are not the Greatful Dead...) so I decided to go back to the studio release from 2012, Underwater Sunshine.
 
An independent release of cover tunes? Yes...I can't think of many bands that would devote an entire release to songs from Graham Parsons, The Faces, and Pure Prairie League and have the skills to pull it off. The sound has been deconstructed, broken down to a heavier acoustic feel that is tweaked to fit each tune. Still edgy and eclectic yet the most commercially viable release they have tossed out since Saturday Mornings. Commercial is not a bad word for musicians as their is no nobility in being a broke ass musician. The reharm on the Pure Prairie League hit Amie could have been left off, the song fits and the arrangement is respectable but no new ground is cut. "Meet On The Ledge" from Fairport Covention was tailor made for vocalist Adam Duritz. This particular incarnation of the band seems far more cohesive than previous lineups so one can not help but wonder if this is not the start of a creative rebirth.
 
Occasionally the release becomes slightly bogged down in an alternative country vibe that makes one think they are "stuck" with the natural urge being to slap the side of your disc player but overall this record works and works well.
 
4 Stars.
 
Tracks: Untitled; Start Again; Hospital; Mercy; Meet On The Ledge; Like Teenage Gravity; Amie; Coming Around; Ooh La La; All My Failures; Return Of The Grievous Angel; Four White Stallions; Jumping Jesus; You Ain't Gon' Nowhere; The Ballad of El Goodo