Best Songs of 2014 – #11
‘Cover Up the Sun’ – Counting Crows
I saw Counting Crows in concert last summer and loved the show but was underwhelmed by a couple of tracks from their then-upcoming album, Somewhere Under Wonderland.
When I got the album, I was pleased to find that they’d played my two least favorite tracks, and the rest of the record was as light and lovable as those two were ponderous and dull.
My wife and I saw Counting Crows in concert a few months ago, in a sort of 90s throwback show with opening band Toad the Wet Sprocket.
They sounded wonderful. Frontman Adam Duritz looked like he’s just crawled out of a dumpster but his distinctive voice was in top form and he rattled off his intricate lyrics without a hitch, owning every moment onstage.
I’ve enjoyed the past two weeks of favorite songs so much that I’m dedicating this week to some honorable mentions.
It’s pretty clear that there are hundreds of songs in the running and one batch could easily replace another depending on my mood. Here are five more that almost made the cut this time around.
It’s been more than six years since Counting Crows’ last album, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, the double-disc disappointment on which today’s SOTD appears.
I’m not counting the 2012 release Underwater Sunshine, a collection of covers, because, well, it’s a collection of covers.
Five albums in 21 years? That doesn’t seem right. I do see, on Wikipedia, that the band has been in the studio recording their next release so maybe we’ll see something from them in 2014.
Counting Crows is a perfect example of my ‘Folk Rock Derivative’ group. They have branched out into a wide range of musical directions, but there is a rootsy core to all of their work that traces straight back to Bob Dylan, The Band and Van Morrison.
In fact, the band has name-checked Dylan and Richard Manuel in song and covered Morrison in concert. Hell, ‘Mr. Jones’ sounds like a lost lost track off of Moondance.
Best Albums of the 90s – #9
August & Everything After – Counting Crows (1993)
Last week I mentioned the large number of sophomore albums on this list and hinted at another list of great second albums.
Today’s featured album is something more traditional — a fabulous debut. Great first albums are special because not only do they contain memorable music in their own right, they are invested with the promise of what’s to come. When discovering a new artist who instantly clicks, it’s hard not to imagine how that career might develop over future decades.
Starting off the final week of my series on great albums, I arrive at a band that has released only five studio albums over 18 years… two of which were strong contenders for this list.
Counting Crows don’t get a whole lot of respect from critics and music snobs, for reasons I’ve never understood, but I’m a huge fan of their brand of literate, earthy pop rock. They borrow from Van Morrison, The Band, and R.E.M. but the product they whip up in their musical blender is distinctly their own.
The band exploded out of the gate in 1993 with ‘Mr. Jones,’ still the biggest hit they’ve ever had. That song appeared on their debut album, August and Everything After, a record that stands as one of the 90s’ best.