Welcome back to The Rock Show, where it’s all about the music! Growing up in the 90’s meant being surrounded by great (and also not-so-great and sometimes awesomely bad) music, and as anyone from my generation will tell you, 90’s music is the best music. Obviously. That goes without saying.
There were all kinds of amazing bands that have stood the test of time, and all kinds of bands whose only hits have outlived them. Though I was a bit too young to remember at the time, the smash hit “Mr. Jones” struck radio hard in 1993 and never really went away. Then I do remember the arrival of “A Long December” and its popularity on 90’s radio, a popularity that has waned in comparison to “Mr. Jones,” but not entirely. There were a few other hits here and there that I remember from late 90’s and early 00’s radio (namely “Hanginaround”), but overall it seems I let Counting Crows slip through the cracks. Which is absurd and totally unfortunate. ‘Cause they’re awesome.
It wasn’t until sometime in early fall 2012 that I rediscovered the band. And, oddly enough, it was the song “Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)” that got me–a hit when it first came out but one that never really stuck around. I don’t remember exactly what it was about the song that hooked me, but I do know the songwriting had something to do with it. At that point I picked up their greatest hits album, Films About Ghosts, the next time I was at Best Buy picking up CDs (you know, since I’m an old fogey who uses outdated technology). And at that point I was more than hooked. Going back through all the stuff from August & Everything After and Recovering the Satellites was a lot of fun, and then learning what I missed since then was even better. And, of course, in typical me fashion, I proceeded to obtain the majority of their discography (still missing Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, though–so hard to find that one). That’s when I really started digging, and I found so many gems I lost count.
Needless to say, I was extremely excited for the new album, which came out at the beginning of September. It contains everything I’ve come to love about Counting Crows, especially the songwriting–both heartfelt and clever, both simple and poetic. Does it stand up to the greats from the early and mid 90’s? No, of course not. But that’s because Recovering the Satellites is one of the greatest albums of all time, and August & Everything After isn’t too far behind. But it’s a damn good album, especially from a band over twenty years into their career (unfortunately, consistently releasing high-quality albums is not something many bands can pull off). Though it only has nine tracks, they’re all top-notch and sound distinctively like the band. Somewhere Under Wonderland is definitely one of the better albums to come out of 2014, and you would be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn’t check it out.
Bottom line, always take the time to look back at the music you loved from an earlier time, and see if you missed anything on the first go-round. Rediscovering old bands is just as much fun as discovering new ones…maybe even better. And, most importantly, the new Counting Crows album is fantastic.
~The Rock Show, where it’s all about the music!