Album Reviews: April 2008

 

Counting Crows - Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings (Geffen) 24/03/2008

T: Well this has started a whole lot harder and heavier than I expected. It's a far cry from the relatively restrained aura that surrounded "August And Everything After", but then I guess that was over a decade ago. Nowadays it seems like they've taken their lead from Thin Lizzy, and that was probably a wise move.

N: This new album from the Crows, not of course to be confused with hose of the Black variety, certainly puts across a more forthright sound, and one my colleague has stated is not dissimilar in content to that of Thin Lizzy at times, although it should always be remembered where tis band come from, and later on during the album, a bluesy sound far more at home in a smoke filled club, one that's just off the Canadian border. The whole album, with its twists and turns, and doffing of Adam Duritz' cap to the strength of a seventies Jagger is a fine comeback, and one that might point to the future.

T: It's actually got Levon Helm stamped all over it on the slower tracks if you ask me. It didn't surprise me in the slightest when I saw that Gil Norton and Steve Lillywhite were both involved in the production of this album. The masterstroke here though was getting Brian Deck (of Modest Mouse fame) to produce the "Sunday Mornings" portion, as Counting Crows borrow the Foo Fighters idea from "In Your Honour" by releasing a half acoustic, half electric album that is surprisingly satisfying. 8/10

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Less Than Jake Re-issues - Losers, Kings And Things We Don't Understand (1995), Pezcore (1995), Goodbye Blue And White (2002) and The Peope's History Of Less Than Jake DVD(2002) (Cooking Vinyl) 31/03/2008

T: First things first, you have to hand it to Less Than Jake, they're supremely fan friendly. After all, they've formed their own record label and lovingly repackaged and reissued their first two albums in a format that their followers will treasure. It really is beautifully put together, each featuring a fold out sleeve, booklets paying attention to detail, and a bonus DVD disc with each. If I was marking these CDs on physical content alone, they would have passed with flying colours. Unfortunately, I'm rather underwhelmed by the band's music itself. They have their moments, I admit. "Down In The Mission" will no doubt always be a crowd favourite, and several others will make you want to dance, but the formula gets tired too quickly. Or at least, it does to my ears. I don't want to slag them off too much though, because they've crafted their art well and they've clearly got a lot of time and respect for their own fans.

N: Voluntarily emancipated from former label Warner Brothers, I see this as tidying of product and headspace. Picking up on what Tone has said, although perfectly able musicians, songwriting does err toward the repetitive, but what the band and label have done with this back catalogue, I will agree, is admirable. It is not a charity, but to see a band giving back to the fans in this way is heartening. 7/10

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