Today’s random selection has the distinction of being my least favorite Counting Crows song. The opening track of the band’s fifth album, 2008’s Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, ‘1492’ is a loud and graceless rock song that lacks the nuance and melodicism of the band’s usual output.
Following four stellar albums released between 1992 and 2002, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings was the Crows’ first miss. A concept album featuring one side of rockers and one side of acoustic ballads, the collection produced only a couple of memorable tracks.
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.
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.
The 6-year gap between Hard Candy and Counting Crows’ next album, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, was the longest yet. And unfortunately the new material wasn’t quite worth the wait. Conceived as a split between hard songs (the Saturday nights) and soft (the Sunday mornings), the album wound up a bit too extreme on both sides of the spectrum.
Each half contains some strong material but each also contains songs simply not worthy of the band’s name. Opening track ‘1492’ is the one song in the Counting Crows’ catalog that borders on unlistenable… a blistering hard-rock tear that doesn’t relent for four minutes. The other five songs that make up the album’s first half are better but not better than average by Counting Crows standards.
The latest Counting Crows album suffers from Goldilocks Syndrome — parts of it are too hard, parts are too soft and the rest is just about right. The concept here was that the record’s first half represents the “Saturday nights,” with hard-rocking and much mayhem, while the rest calls to mind “Sunday mornings,” and the gentler comedowns they provide. The idea would have worked better over two discs, but presented as one album of fourteen songs it seems less like a high concept than a purposeless and jarring shift in tone.