Monday, 1 September 2014
REVIEW: COUNTING CROWS-SOMEWHERE UNDER WONDERLAND
Adam In Wonderland.
September and everything after. In this moment its been a long time since Adam Duritz introduced himself by singing "Step out the front door like a ghost/into the fog where no one notices/the contrast of white on white" over the beautifully fading in acoustic guitars to the beginning of the 'August' debut classic. The count and his crows have been 'Round Here' for a long time but it seems like they've been M.I.A. for even longer. Did someone stone the crows? Did Adam Duritz shave off his legendary beard and dreads and become Adam Richman of 'Man Versus Food' fame? There's more at stake here for a band who released a beautiful barrage of jams from 'Recovering The Satellites' to 'This Desert Life' before disappearing for a minute and coming back with the American classic 'Hard Candy' and its Vanessa Carlton assisted Joni Mitchell covered classic single 'Big Yellow Taxi'. Another long layover happened and then the 'Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings' double brought them back only to lead to their longest hiatus of original music (save the covers album 'Underwater Sunshine' and some long live takes) until now. Now the Crows fly again as the longtime fans count the tracks and lucky stars. Nine in total. Or eleven if you count the deluxe demos. With 'Somewhere Under Wonderland' Adam tumbles down the rabbit hole again with his Mad Hatter, stream of consciousness, storytelling lyrics and his Cheshire cat charm.
They're not in Kansas anymore. Or should we say California. As these Berkeley boys are back in the world. By way of 'Palisades Park' the epic, 8 minute long lead song and single. Now who says you cant make radio records that clock in it around 10 minutes anymore in this day and age. The man who once told 'Mr. Jones' he wanted "to be Bob Dylan' channels his inner storytelling 'Like A Rolling Stone'. Quoteables like "the future sounds so crazy/we've all heard that song before", "I used to dream in the dark, in Palisades Park/Up over the cliffs and down among the spark/It's a long life full of long nights", "you walked into the bar/like a Saturday star" and "Have you been aching with trust or just/Have you been waking yourself with lust" this is a novel of melody making ideas. Duritz shows his Van Morrison, R.E.M. inspirations once again that he is his own legend with a legacy to make. This is set in stone further with the 'Earthquake Driver' that further breaks down any almost decade long barriers. Singing "I just don't wanna go home" into a hallmark harmony its clear to hear Duritz wants to hit the road again via a musical tour. 'Dislocation' continues this delightful disconnect as this independent since 2009 band show after all this time formed since 1991 they are still the same guys with the same sound. Give or take a few band members. The sweet sway of 'God Of Ocean Rides' continues the spirit of a band that has moved with the times as "Jesus spins the world around". As Adam tells his eve "and I know I said I didn't love you/ I may just try again tonight" we see that like everything in a loved life even lamenting loss, there's always another chance to make it right.
That's a trite but too true theme for a band that have returned after so long to find as much dust as welcome mats. Still once they get going that old Counting sound is as timeless as it is nostalgic. The "da, duh, da, da, duh's " of 'Scarecrow' will keep anyone but these Crows themselves at bay. These harmonies heard here are so classic they even sound older than this bands original stuff as they recover some satellites and airwaves. The Wu Tang Clan of rock are as dynamic as they are disjointed and as focussed musically as they are all over the place on your stereo. A jam band at it's truest, these songs are your raspberry conserve. Even the great D.M.B. has to C.C. the Crows, a real band of the 90's that still tells and takes tales that are anything but too tall in this electronic age. 'Elvis Went To Hollywood' is a stereotypical bur stereo worthy name and sound of this bands hallmark type, but this group has more Grace for this land before they leave this building thank you very much. There's the illuminating 'Cover Up The Sun' that reveals more behind and under the weather. While 'John Appleseed's Lament' is a lyrical lavishing of storytelling lore. Duritz sings "you've decided that you can't hide inside your mind/provide the slide to get you out", the consciousness from the apple of Adam's mind streams so folk soulfully across the soundscape. "The worst part of a good day is slipping away" laments this bands lead on the saved best and darkest for last 'Possibility Days' as he sings " I got to get out of L.A." whilst calling out an Incubus warning of not letting life pass you by in all its 24/7 opportunity. It's an interesting notion for a band that doesn't reach ten new tracks after almost that many years out of the scene. Despite the delightful demos the possibilities for a band whose last album was a double is endless. We just hope this band lasts for more days somewhere in this world of wonder. We've always counted on the crows to come back again. Anything else would be one for sorrow. TIM DAVID HARVEY.