My easy pick for the best album of 1993 is August and Everything After, the debut release by Counting Crows. I’ve talked about doing a theme week (or two) on great debut albums, and this one would surely be near the top of that list as well.
The California-based band had formed just a couple of years before this album’s release, and sparked a bidding war among major labels who heard their demo tapes. They landed T Bone Burnett as producer and knocked out this collection of literate folk rock tunes. The album sold more than 7 million copies in the U.S. and placed three singles on the Hot 100 (including ‘Mr. Jones,’ which reached #5).
When today’s random song popped up, I was reminded of how disappointed I was in Counting Crows’ 2008 album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.
The concept was half an album of upbeat songs and half an album of slow ballads. What they ended up with was a Goldilocks selection without anything that was “just right.” The first half was annoying and off-putting while the second half put me to sleep.
My choice for Counting Crows’ best album is a close contest between their 1993 debut August and Everything After and their fourth release, 2002’s Hard Candy. Forced to choose, I would likely side with Hard Candy.
Today’s random SOTD, ‘Carriage,’ is a big reason why. This is a beautiful and poignant song that plays to Adam Duritz’s strengths as a lyricist and vocalist and gives the band plenty of space to fill a rather sparse song with moments of musical grace.
Our next Montauk Madness Round Four matchup is a bit unexpected. It’s not a big surprise to see Bob Dylan here, but this is rare air for Counting Crows, who happen to enjoy quite a bit of popularity among my meager readership.
Dylan made it here by dispatching Miranda Lambert, Eminem and R.E.M. Even though I voted for him all three times, the losses of Lambert and R.E.M. hurt me. I wish they’d had an easier path. Counting Crows took out Morrissey, David Bowie and Ben Folds Five. I picked them in the first two rounds before siding with Ben Folds Five, but even that was a close call.
Our next third round matchup in Montauk Madness pairs up a couple of 90s alternative bands: Ben Folds Five and Counting Crows.
Ben Folds Five leaves a pair of indie acts in its wake, having defeated Aimee Mann in Round One with 60% of the vote and Vampire Weekend in Round Two with 75%. Counting Crows enjoyed a unanimous victory against Morrissey in Round One before taking down the legendary David Bowie with 63%. Continue reading