Release Date: 9th April 2012
RatingSo after leaving long term label Geffen, releasing a wonderfully nostalgic live recording of their first album August and Everything After (on both audio and video formats), Counting Crows are finally back with something new. Well kinda. Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) is a covers album, largely of songs the band have done in their live shows and even more underwhelmingly a number of tracks that have been on B-sides or bonus tracks on their albums over the years. Anyway, Im not going to dwell on the feeling that a covers album is always a signifier of a band on the brink of disappearing forever because I dont want to think that of a band Ive loved for a long while, so Ill dive straight into the album instead. (Untitled) Love Song (a Romany Rye cover) is immediately a Crowsy sounding riff of a song. Duritzs voice is a great as ever and this slow driving opener sets a nice feeling of familiarity with how the Crows have sounded from their third studio album This Desert Life onwards. The Teenage Fanclub cover of Start Again has always been a favourite of mine since it was featured on a B-side a few years ago. This is a cover that has it all, Duritzs vocals are warm and strong and the band feel as tight as ever backing him up. Hospital the cover of the Coby Brown song really feels like a track the band have gotten their teeth into. Duritzs voice sounds akin to how he performs songs live and has a rawness to it that works well for the recording. Moving into more familiar territory the cover of Mercy (Tender Mercies) feels like the a band have put on a comfortable pair of slippers its so casually handled. That said, its not a lazy cover, it just feels like the one thats lived in and enjoyed by the band. Meet on the Ledge (Fairport Convention) sounds more like a B-side to be honest and not the strongest inclusion here. It does have a feeling that it could fit on Hard Candy or something of that era but the song really feels like it slows down the flow of this album even if the chorus is easy to sing along to. Like Teenage Gravity (Kasey Anderson & The Honkies) is a song Im less familiar with but feels distinctly Counting Crows. The slow build, the large amount of sentiment in the lyrics and how theyre delivered clicks perfectly with the band's style and offers a real highlight on the album. Back to old B-Side land, Amie (Prairie League), which is a feel good ditty that Ive always enjoyed the band covering. This one always has put a smile on my face and its no different here. The cover of Coming Around by Travis is an odd one. For a start the idea of the Counting Crows covering Travis baffles me. Like how the hell did these two bands ever live in the same universe of music? If they did I didnt visit it. Anyway, other than the electronic sound overlaying Duritzs voice and the fact the song feels way to jolly for the Crows, its not a bad cover and adds a different flavour to the tracks that came before it. Ooh La La (The Faces) is another B-side but its one the band has fun with and its a good cover of the song celebrating the original and still making it a Counting Crows song all at the same time. I personally would have had this one as the last track of the album but thats just me. All My Failures (Dawes) again sounds like a song that could have been on Hand Candy in its style. Its a slow burning, country feeling track that the band have reworked using all their strengths and feels like a very collaborative approach to the song. http://www.countingcrows.com/ to do so.