By Kenneth E. Oquist
I started Counting Crows’ new release Underwater Sunshine with “Return of the Grevious Angel”. Right away, I thought this was just a “so so” song. The fact is they strayed from sounding like the Counting Crows and I did not care much for it. When they stay on their game, they come through big time. The cover of Pure Prairie League’s “Amie” is surprisingly good here. “All My Failures” is a slow and easy-going rock song, featuring some nice slow electric guitars. “The Ballad of El Goodo” is a banjo tinged rock song that works very well here. “Coming Around” is a mid tempo rocker that just sounds like the Crows. Adam Duritz (lead vocal, piano) is a huge reason for this. There is also a stellar drumming performance here by Jim Bogios (drums, percussion, backing vocals).
“Four White Stallions” features more rocking guitars with an acoustic ambience. David Bryson (guitars, backing vocals) handles this job well. More great Crows here. The pedal steel player David Immergluck (guitar, banjo, mandolin, vocals), delivers some nice variation as well. “Hospital” is my favorite of all of these. The acoustic/electric guitar combination is something they do well, but it is the buzzing electric lead from Dan Vickrey (lead guitar, banjo, backing vocals) that really stands out. ”Jumping Jesus” is another spectacular rocker that shines. “Like Teenage Gravity” is a mellow electric song, featuring excellent slow burning lead guitar, which burns even more as the song gets rocking.
“Meet on the Ledge” is another excellent mid-tempo rocker with smoking hot lead. “Mercy” is more straight forward rock from the Counting Crows. “Ooh La La”, although leaning towards acoustic sounds, works considerably better than “Return of the Grevious Angel”. “Start Again” takes a more acoustic piano direction, and does a lot to stir up the variety. The mandolin has a nice touch. You sure can’t accuse them of all the songs sounding the same on this release. ”Untitled Love Song” has a more straight forward rock sound with some great lead guitar. A very strong song, and my second favorite. “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” is an excellent acoustic/rocker that shows how they are expanding their use of multiple stringed instruments, and not just electrics. Millard Powers (bass guitar, piano, backing vocals) and Charlie Gillingham (accordion, clarinet, piano, keyboards) add ambience to this recording as well. Counting Crows new release Underwater Sunshine is four and a half star listening.
Contact the Author: KennethEOquist@ArtsandEntertainmentPlayground.com