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Review: Counting Crows shine on cover album

Fans of the Counting Crows will have no trouble recognizing the band’s signature sounds in “Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation).” The songs have the same pop-folk feel as the band’s fan-favorites “Mr. Jones” and “Accidentally in Love,” though the album consists entirely of covers.

In the group’s latest effort, the Counting Crows tackles well-known classics such as “Amie,” originally recorded by Pure Prairie League, as well as indie secrets such as “Untitled (Love Song)” by The Romany Rye, the California beach band named a “band to watch in 2010” by Kings of Leon guitarist Matthew Followill.

While the album contains a few recognizable tracks, it features no current top 40 hits familiar to listeners of exclusively modern music. Unlike many cover albums, “Underwater Sunshine” makes no attempt to cover songs that stray from the band’s own genre, such as rap or Justin Bieber-style pop.

Standing out from other tracks, and perhaps hinting a little more toward the cover’s original, is the Counting Crows’ redesigned version of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” The cover ditches the album’s almost exclusively acoustic feel for a more powerful, electric-based sound, making it stand out from its surrounding tracks.

The voice of frontman Adam Duritz is easily recognizable throughout most of the album, being the driving link between the original songs and the Counting Crows’ stylized remakes.

Only rarely does this not hold true, such as in the cover of Tender Mercies’ “Four White Stallions,” where Duritz’s voice takes on an almost country twang as he sings, “Four white stallions coming up around the bend / Four strong angels at her command to send.” The change in persona distracts from the song, causing a disconnect from the more uniform style throughout the majority of the album.

Though “Underwater Sunshine” might come as a disappointment to die-hard fans hoping for some new Counting Crows material, the cover album shows the band’s musical ability and provides a new twist on some old favorites.

Grade: A-


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