MTV Counting Crows reemerges onto the music scene with their latest album “Somewhere Under Wonderland.”
MTV
Counting Crows reemerges onto the music scene with their latest album “Somewhere Under Wonderland.”

★★★☆☆

There are few bands that have the ability to be a mainstay in a single music genre for over 10 years, while simultaneously maintaining their original sound.

Counting Crows’ first album “August and Everything After” was a perfect example of the angst and pop rockdom of the late 1990s and 2000s. The single “Mr. Jones” catapulted their album into a seven-time platinum debut. While they have not obtained this level of commercial success again, no one can say that Counting Crows is a band of old. One can easily argue that they haven’t been able to maintain “commercial success” because it has been several years since they have released an original album (they have been releasing cover albums instead).

Despite this recent inactivity, Counting Crows have retained a steady and large fan base, and the new album “Somewhere Under Wonderland” will not disappoint fans.

In “Somewhere Under Wonderland,” lead singer Adam Duritz skillfully delves into the land of country and blues while touching on the themes of travel and lost loves. The eight-minute opening track “Palisades Park” begins with a sweet and serenading brass instrumental that instantly causes wanderlust and reminds one of a time past. Duritz croons of the universal cacophony of emotions associated with growing up and abandoning old loves and homes for one’s new adult future. As Duritz looks back, he remembers the heart wrench of lost loves.

“Real love outlives teenage lust…/ Lovely sometimes changes us/ Sometimes not.”

Duritz admits to struggling to deal with the present and yearning for a time long gone.

“These days/ My life just careens through a pinball machine/ I could do so much better/ But I can’t get off of this tilt.”

This track proves to be especially significant and appropriate as an opening track because Duritz explores these themes in several tracks later on.

As previously mentioned, this album has a country sound that Counting Crows have never really fully explored before. “Cover Up the Sun” and “Earthquake Driver” automatically bring the folk and country sound into play and show the several dimensions of Counting Crows. While some original Counting Crows fans may find this departure unwarranted and undesirable, this move shows the ability of this band to successfully incorporate its past into its potential future. “Cover Up the Sun” especially ties in with the theme of this musical piece. Duritz tells of a traveller exploring down south and encountering intriguing people. With this album’s country twinge, one cannot help but wonder if he’s singing from personal experience.

While adopting a somewhat new sound, the band doesn’t completely abandon the pop-rock sound that originally put it on the map. “Elvis Went to Hollywood” begins with an explosion of drum beats and Duritz’s distinct vocals. This track stays true to the typical 2000s rock band feel.

The last stand-out track on the album is “Possibility Days.” This soft ballad again tells of a lost love and reminds us that memories of the past can’t be recreated. However, one can see that Duritz is talking about love in a broader manner. This love can be for one’s family, passion or home.

He states, “Worst part of a good day is knowing that it is slipping away.”

This is an appropriate ending for a decent album intertwined with nostalgia and memories of a better time.

All in all, this album is a strong comeback for Counting Crows and ultimately shows that bands can find ways to remain true to their roots while entering new territory.

 

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