Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation)

Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation)

by Counting Crows


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Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation)

The covers album is a strange beast. Collections of songs by bands who were key influences or wayward distractions for the band doing the covers, these albums usually go one of two ways. There are the reverently devotional ones that genuinely wish to pay homage to original inspirations and then there are the between-proper-albums placeholders full of filler and oddball versions of unexpected or random songs. On their sixth studio album, Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation), the Counting Crows fall into the nicer of the two categories, offering up 15 cover tunes, ranging from the ubiquitous to the obscure. Thankfully, the band spares us any completely stylistically incongruent numbers (reference The Spaghetti Incident? by Guns N' Roses for an embarrassing example of this), and even the more obscure songs here sound like formative shapers of the band Counting Crows became. Genuflecting liner notes back this up, with long stories from various bandmembers with anecdotes about everything from having a moment of Zen watching Dinosaur Jr. perform on Letterman for the first time to touring with Alex Chilton. The bandmembers clearly believe in these songs with all their hearts, and it shows in the performances. Their take on the dual harmonies of Teenage Fanclub's "Start Again" and the Big Star classic "The Ballad of El Goodo" highlight their love of jangly rock, while covers of more country-leaning artists like Gram Parsons and Crows side project Tender Mercies are approached with equal verve. The band sounds at home in its interpretations and as committed to these covers as any of its own songs, possibly even too much so. Somewhere around the middle of Underwater Sunshine it becomes hard to remember this isn't a record of Counting Crows songs. The combination of close-to-the-vest song choices and the band's signature nuances (primarily singer Adam Duritz's instantly recognizable warbles and soulful emotings) tends to compress the songs into identical waves of the same spirited feelings over and over. Even when the band lets relatively loose on a drunken sendup of Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," the song never threatens to get out of line, and even the hooting and hollering seem contained. A cover of '80s college rockers Sordid Humor's "Jumping Jesus" is the album's darkest moment, and as a relatively unknown song just sounds like a newly unearthed Counting Crows dirge. That said, the Counting Crows sounding a lot like themselves when covering their most-loved bands isn't all that bad of a thing. They could have phoned it in completely on an in-between record like this, and there's enough energy here to appeal to both fans and non-obsessives. For all its heart, though, Underwater Sunshine still lacks the unborrowed inspiration necessary to come out of the gates as a stand-alone record. Even with its positive attributes, the record still turns to pleasant filler somewhere around their version of Faces' "Ooh La La" and never quite recovers.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/10/2012
Label: Collective Records
UPC: 0853423003116
catalogNumber: 13
Rank: 114720

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Counting Crows   Primary Artist
Jim Bogios   Percussion,Drums,Tambourine,Background Vocals
Charlie Gillingham   Piano,Accordion,Background Vocals,Mellotron,Pizzicato,Hammond B3
David Immerglück   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Mandolin,Glockenspiel,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Guitar (12 String Electric),Guitar (Electric Baritone)
Adam Duritz   Vocals,Background Vocals
Dan Vickrey   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Guitar (12 String Acoustic)
Millard Powers   Acoustic Guitar,Bass Guitar,Background Vocals,Upright Bass
Leanne Zacharias   Cello

Technical Credits

Chris Bell   Composer
Alex Chilton   Composer
Bob Dylan   Composer
Gram Parsons   Composer
Richard Thompson   Composer
Ronnie Wood   Composer
Counting Crows   Producer
Thomas Stanley Brown   Composer
Brian Deck   Engineer
Charlie Gillingham   String Writing
Ronnie Lane   Composer
Jeff Trott   Composer
Craig Fuller   Composer
Tom Barnes   Composer
Dan Vickrey   Composer
Patrick Winningham   Composer
Kurt Stevenson   Composer
Dave Bryson   Engineer
Jim Gordon   Composer
Kasey Anderson   Composer
Taylor Goldsmith   Composer
Luke MacMaster   Composer
Coby Brown   Composer
Shawn Dealey   Producer,Engineer
Fran Healy   Composer
Norman Blake   Composer
Chris Boesel   Composer

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