Review: Counting Crows – Hard Candy

Counting Crows will always be a band affiliated first and foremost with the 1990s. There are many good reasons for this fact, starting with the band’s 1993 debut album August & Everything After. A massive LP that spawned singles like “Mr. Jones” and “Round Here,” August remains the pinnacle of the band’s legacy. A few years back, when I saw the Crows live on a co-headlining tour with Matchbox Twenty, it was still the August songs that got the biggest response.

For me, though, I always affiliate Counting Crows instead with the mid-2000s. That’s not because I wasn’t aware enough to know about their music in the ‘90s. On the contrary, “Mr. Jones” is the first song I ever remember liking, and the band’s sound in general just makes me think of growing up. When I started really getting into music in 2003, I remember revisiting those first two Counting Crows albums—August and 1996’s Recovering the Satellites—and hearing so many songs that I recalled from my formative years. It felt like reconvening with old friends.

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Review: Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites

Few trends scream “nineties” more loudly than the “rebellion against fame” album. Nirvana made In Utero. Pearl Jam made Vitalogy. R.E.M. made Monster. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a rock band ever becoming famous enough in the mainstream to then justify the creation of a “rebellion against fame” album. For awhile there, though, making this type of album—usually a louder, more abrasive follow-up to a cleaner, more tasteful, massively successful predecessor—was a rock ‘n’ roll rite of passage. Few bands ever steered into the skid quite as much as Counting Crows did on Recovering the Satellites.

It’s difficult, from the vantage point of 2021’s pop music status quo, to describe how absolutely massive Counting Crows were in the mid-90s. The band’s debut, 1993’s August & Everything After, is certified seven-times platinum in the United States and has sold well north of 10 million copies worldwide. The flagship single, “Mr. Jones,” made it to number 2 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart. Ironically, “Mr. Jones” was a song about wanting to be famous; to be “big, big stars.” “When I look at the television I wanna see me/Staring right back at me,” frontman Adam Duritz sang in the song.

Be careful what you wish for, Adam.

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Review: Counting Crows – Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings

Counting Crows - Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings

Going platinum eleven times in less than fifteen years is an admirable feat for any recording artist, but Counting Crows have made it look cool. Dreadlocked lead singer Adam Duritz became sort of a poet of a generation, appealing to both young and old with his heartfelt lyrics and soothing vocals. The band’s newest creation, is the split-level Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings. The so-called “Saturday Nights” section is a seedy romp through debauchery and confusion, posing more questions than answers as frontman Adam Duritz puts himself all the way out on a limb for listeners. The “Sunday Mornings” portion experiences a bit of twisted nostalgia, as the singer replays and then comes to terms with his faults.

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