A handful of bands from the '90s found their way into recording new
albums after 2000, like the Counting Crows. These are the bands
that cause people to say, "Wow, they are still making records."
Surprisingly yes, the Counting Crows latest release Saturday Nights
& Sunday Mornings is divided between tunes for the Saturday
Nights side of the album and ones that herald in the Sunday Mornings
side. If you liked the Counting Crows before, you will like them again
on this album.
Not much about their music sounds different or shows growth in the
band. Lead singer Adam Duritz has the same raspy edges to his
vocal registers as before, and guitarists Dan Vickrey and David
Bryson have the same alt-rock slits and intonations that they
displayed on the band's hit songs "Mr. Jones" and "Accidentally
In Love." Bassist David Immergluck and drummer Jim
Bogios show a funky stride in the rhythmic strips, and keyboardist
Charles Gillingham may have the most interesting job coloring
the drums fills with arousing vistas and shutting clamors. The lyrics
provide the songs with captions like signposts that tell the listeners
where they are and where the road will lead them. It is a typical
Counting Crows album with acoustic-rock regalia reminiscent of Hootie
And The Blowfish and confections of chewy rock guitar taffy.
The album starts off with six alt-rock tracks for the Saturday
Nights portion of the album. Most of these have a fast tempo and
cavities of wiry guitar spikes like in "1492," "Hanging
Tree," and "Insignificant." Canals of piano riffs
hyphenate the folksy musings of "Los Angeles" while Duritz's
rugged vocal textures are greatly exaggerated in the melody. The
breading of bluesy finger-snapping beats along "Sundays"
give the tune a cozy blue-eyed soul feel, and the quaking shivers
of "Cowboys" keep the rhythm section mobile with the vocals
hollering and acting like a rolling pin on the melody. The album
turns slow and reflective on the Sunday Mornings portion with the
acoustic-dales of "Washington Square."
Keeping to an acoustic vibe, the album proceeds with "On Almost
Any Sunday Morning" which is swathed in bales of folksy harmonica
played by Gillingham. The folk-rock disposition of "When I Dream
Of Michelangelo" is pebbled in gentle guitar strums and breathy
vocals as the soupy fennel of "Anyone But You" is bricked
by soft vocal strokes and lounging chord recessions and progressions.
The Counting Crows display a healthy dose of congeniality in their
music, making songs that rub people the right way like the tender
springs of "Le Ballet D'Or." It's a number that feels like
a whiff of fresh air, a tune that you hum while walking through grassy
fields with nothing weighing heavily on your mind. Contrasting "Le
Ballet D'Or" is the somber, plaintive "On A Tuesday In Amsterdam
Long Ago" whose brusque keys feel like tremendous weights on
the tune. The album concludes with the rip roaring heartland rock
tune "Come Around," pulling out all the blitz and frazzled
chord rounds that people have come to like about the Counting Crows.
The Counting Crows have not changed much about themselves on their
latest release Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings. They
still mix elements of acoustic, alt-rock, classic piano, and harmonica
in the same way as before, and their songs are just as accessible
for music students to perform at high school recitals. With some tracks
produced by Gil Norton and others by Brian Deck, Saturday
Nights & Sunday Mornings feels like two sides of the same
coin. If you liked the Counting Crows before, you will continue to
like them on this recording. The Counting Crows are who they are and
you can take it or leave it, but they show no signs of changing.
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