Ah, Counting Crows. One of the great bands of our time. Now, I know that most of you hardcore punkers and scene kids are going to disagree with me, but I believe Adam Duritz is a musical genius. He knows how and when to convey the perfect emotion to match his band's music, and he's a pretty darn good pianist too.
When I first heard about this tribute album a while back, I was ecstatic. What could be better than some of my favorite bands playing Counting Crows songs? Then I looked at the tracklisting and didn't recognize any of the groups performing the covers. I almost completely forgot about the album until I was looking for a copy of This Desert Life, my favorite album from the band themselves, and I saw this in the record bin. I thought, what the hell, it's only ten bucks, and I made my purchase.
I popped it into my cheap portable CD player and listened to the album while driving out to my girlfriend's place, constantly looking around for cops who wanted to bust me for driving with earphones. As it was a long drive, I had the chance to listen to it twice. Here's what I thought:
- Rydia - "Angels Of The Silences" - Hmmmm...never heard of them. A little too poppy for me. While CC has been known to record some pop-sounding material, this was just too much. Still, it gets points for being a Counting Crows song. I don't know why, I can't really explain it, I just wasn't feeling the track. But I listened to it in its entirety. On to the next one. 4/10
- The Rocket Summer - "High Life" - I had never heard of the Rocket Summer, but now I want to hear more of them. This is an amazing and beautiful cover of one of my favorite CC tunes. It's basically just an acoustic guitar or two and a singer - ah, the singer. If you don't like whiny voices, you might be a bit put off by this. While this isn't as bad as say, New Found Glory, it is somewhat present. However, after about the first thirty seconds, I got past it, realizing how good the singer actually was, and didn't even notice it anymore. A great track. 9/10
- Number One Fan - "Holiday In Spain" - Right on. While the CC original is great in its own right, I think I love this version more. All the elements of the various instruments come together beautifully for a mid-tempo jam that far surpasses the original. You have to hear it. 10/10
- Between The Buried And Me - "Colorblind" - I almost didn't recognize the song when it started. I wasn't expecting a few acoustic, possibly classical guitars to churn out the piano lines of this Duritz classic, or even the few little bursts of flamenco in the beginning; nice touch. However, that's as good as the song gets. The cover isn't horrible, or even bad, but the singer and the drummer sound...stiff. That's the only way to put it: stiff. And wait, this song isn't supposed to have drums... 6/10
- Boys Night Out - "Walkaways" - Emo. If you don't like it, you won't like the first minute of this cover. However, if you enjoy the occasional mid-tempo rocker, you should enjoy the second minute, which strangely ends with the beginning of "Round Here," but not the beginning of the next track..."Round Here." I did like the song though. 7/10
- Punchline - "Round Here" - Who asked this band to cover this song? Hey guys, this isn't a Me First album. This is a slow, emotional song, not a pop-punk song. As far as pop-punk goes, the song's not too bad. But come on...it's "Round Here." The vocals are nice for the most part, and there are some catchy little riffs here and there, but the song conveys little emotion...wasn't too impressed. 4/10
- Houston Calls - "Einstein On A Beach" - Someone should tell Punchline to listen to this song and take notes. Pop-punk covers should be applied to upbeat tunes, not slow ones that are already amazing. Anyway, this band does a pretty good job on this one, with catchy hooks and little touches of electronica. 7/10
- Hidden In Plain View - "Mr. Jones" - Simply put, a great cover. It's less folk-ish rock than it is a catchy punk-ish version, but great nonetheless. The vocalist conveys emotion almost as well as Adam himself, but in a different fashion that's not too common among emo-ish groups today. Gotta hear more of this band. Beautiful-ish. 9/10
- Bayside - "A Long December" - This band has got it down. Beautiful vocal harmonies, catchy, solid guitars, and perfect rhythm. Again, I liked this song better than the original. It's that good. I found myself singing along harder with this than I ever did with the Crows' version. It's slow, a little hard, and very easy to get lost in. 10/10
- The International Language - "Rain King" This song scares me. Thanks for ruining the song. 3/10 (for the neat intro)
- The Junior Varsity - "Raining In Baltimore." A good cover. Its original is a classic song and here it's a pretty good, new rendition, enough to keep the average listener interested. I prefer the original though. 7/10
- As Tall As Lions - "Children In Bloom" - Yes! That's all I could say when I heard this song. It's hard not to rock out (or speed up if you're driving) while listening to this. The vocalist has an amaaaazingly good voice, reminding me of Dishwalla a bit. The instrumentation is perfect for the track, and I honestly can't decide which version I like better. With a huge buildup and complete rocking out at the end, it's a perfect ending to the compilation. I must hear more of As Tall As Lions, as I can't stop listening to this song. 10/10
All in all, I think the Counting Crows would be proud. Most of the bands here did a fine job of paying tribute to one of the most influential bands of the last decade. And if nothing else, hopefully this album will gain the Crows some new fans, and gain the not-too-widely known artists on here some recognition as well. Good album.
* - This is my first review. Keep that in mind, please. I've never seen such a critical group of commentators on a website, so I'm hoping for some slack here.
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