Counting Crows (formed 1991)
Counting Crows are a rock band from California best known for hits such as 'Mr. Jones' and 'Accidentally In Love'.
Formation: Counting Crows was formed by frontman Adam Duritz and guitarist David Bryson originally as a duo playing acoustic gigs around San Francisco. Their name came from the superstition rhyme 'One For Sorrow' about counting magpies, which are birds from the crow family. They were occasionally unofficially joined by David Immerglück, but the band soon became a five-piece with bassist Matt Malley, keyboardist Charlie Gillingham and drummer Steve Bowman. In 1993, they signed to Geffen Records, and soon got the chance to play at Van Morrison's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Musical career: Counting Crows unveiled their debut album 'August and Everything After' in 1993. The album was produced by T-Bone Burnett and was followed by a long tour supporting the likes of The Cranberries, Suede, Bob Dylan and others. The lead single was major hit 'Mr. Jones' which reached number 5 in US charts. Guitarist Dan Vickrey joined the band soon after, as Bowman left and Duritz, struggling under the pressure of their newfound success, had a nervous breakdown. 1996 saw the release of album two 'Recovering the Satellites' which featured the song 'A Long December'. The following year, excessive touring took its toll on Durtiz and he was forced to take a break after damaging his vocal chords. They release a live album entitled 'Across a Wire: Live in New York City' following the tour. In 1999, they unleashed 'This Desert Life' featuring the tracks 'Hanginaround' and 'Colorblind' from the Sarah Michelle Gellar movie 'Cruel Intentions'. That year also saw Immerglück officially join the band. Their fourth album, 'Hard Candy', came out in 2002 featuring a cover of Joni Mitchell's 'Big Yellow Taxi'. Drummer Ben Mize left during the subsequent tour to be replaced by Jim Bogios. Malley also quit, with Millard Powers taking his place as bassist. Greatest hits album 'Films About Ghosts' came out the following year, followed by a tour with John Mayer. The song 'Accidentally in Love' featured on the soundtrack to 2004's 'Shrek 2', and it was later nominated at the Oscars. Gil Norton produced their next album 'Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings' which dropped in 2008. They subsequently performed on 'The View' and 'Good Morning America' among other shows. In 2009, the band left Geffen, continuing to tour with their Saturday Night Rebel Rockers Traveling Circus and Medicine Show featuring all the bands playing alongside each other for various performances. A brief hiatus followed, with some members deciding to work on various side projects. In 2012, they unveiled covers album 'Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation)', featuring songs by Travis, Dawes, Madonna, Big Star, Stereophonics and others. Another tour followed, alongside their Outlaw Roadshow festival tour with they present with Ryan Spaulding. A live album for the tour, 'Echoes of the Outlaw Roadshow', was released in 2013. Between 2012 and 2013, Duritz co-wrote the play 'Black Sun'. The band also released some live recordings for the website Daytrotter. In 2014, they released 'Somewhere Under Wonderland'; an album which marked a change in direction in terms of songwriting and features lead single 'Palisades Park'.
It's perhaps fitting that my prevailing memory of this year's Isle of Wight Festival will be guitars. This was after all the 45th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's legendary performance on the Island, something that was being widely celebrated by festival organiser John Giddings and his team across the site. Fender, for example, brought some specially designed guitars to the party for artists including You Me At 6 to play, and there was also a world record attempt for the most number of people in one place to be wearing a mask, the face in question was naturally Hendrix himself. Despite that backdrop, it was some of the guitarists who played across the weekend that demonstrated the power of the instrument and reinforced that guitar based rock isn't on its last legs as some have speculated over the past few years.
The festival got into full swing with a Stones-esque swagger on Friday afternoon when The Struts took to the Main Stage. Their enthusiasm signalled a continuation of their set from the previous year's festival, indeed they are an ideal opening act when you want to energise a crowd. Their appearance at Download the following day, will no doubt have had a similar effect. There seemed to be a Rolling Stones theme to many of the acts getting the festival underway. Over in the Big Top The Ruen Brothers covered 'Miss You' during their rousing set that was well received.
The first moment that sent a shiver down my spine this year was the Counting Crows though. The guitar line to 'Round Here' sent a wave of excitement across the main arena. It was a strong opening statement in a nine song set that featured the likes of 'Mr Jones', 'Miami', and 'Rain King' into which singer Adam Duritz dropped some Elbow lyrics as a nod of the hat to Guy Garvey. If Counting Crows' guitars weren't haunting enough, it was actually The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach whose riffs were the most powerful and elemental of the day. The dirty Blues grit of Auerbach's playing was like a roll of thunder that saw the heavens open to drench the crowd in torrential rain. While much of the set was dedicated to material culled from 'El Camino' and 'Brothers', rather than recent record 'Turn Blue', the band's graduation to a headlining slot was well deserved and warranted. The final song of the set 'Little Black Submarines', which builds from a delicate solo performance to a dramatic climax, utilised every trick in the book for The Black Keys' expanded touring band. If Patrick Carney's drums and Auerbach's guitars are the perfect union on record, it seems their live shows rightly now have the power to command top billing with the inclusion of bassist Richard Swift and keyboardist John Clement Wood.
Continue reading: Isle Of Wight Festival - 2015 Live Review
We preview some of the top acts on the bill this year.
Summer festival season kicks into high gear this weekend with the first big event of the calendar taking place on the south coast. Tens of thousands of people will be heading to Seaclose Park on the Isle of Wight for a bill, which is top heavy on heritage acts that bring with them a sense of nostalgia. While recent years have welcomed the likes of Jay-Z, Calvin Harris and Kings Of Leon to headline, this time round it seems big names with an even bigger back catalogue are being used as the main attraction.
However, many of the headline acts seem to be experiencing a renaissance of sorts. For example, Blur, whose new album 'The Magic Whip', their first since 2003, has won critical acclaim. The former Britpop poster boys will take to the Main Stage on Saturday night in the knowledge that this is one of the first times that UK crowds will get to see this new material given the live treatment. You can expect a set heavy on those new songs, but peppered with all the classic singles, certainly a formula for a memorable festival appearance. It's a similar story for The Prodigy who'll headline the Main Stage on Friday after The Black Keys. Both acts have played the festival in recent years and here they're repeating the joint top billing that was given to Biffy Clyro and Calvin Harris last year. As with Blur, The Prodigy's new album, 'The Day Is My Enemy', has revived interest in the band following an extended period out of the spotlight. Elsewhere, Fleetwood Mac will bring proceedings to a close on Sunday, bolstered by the return of Christine McVie to the band, a set covering Rumours era gems like 'Don't Stop' and 'Songbird' is a strong possibility.
Counting Crow's 'Somewhere Under Wonderland' album was released on 2nd September, 2014, which contained the song 'Possibility Days' as the ninth track on the album, with an accompanying video of the album art being painted.
Counting Crows' Adam Duritz opened up to Contactmusic about his favourite event of the year and why 'Somewhere Under Wonderland' is that little bit different.
Counting Crows have delighted us with their first album release since leaving Geffen Records, 'Somewhere Under Wonderland' - and the tone is very different. But what did Adam Duritz have to say about his latest offering?
We spoke to Adam Duritz about his first album in six years
Released on Capitol, the new album takes a more detached standpoint, stepping out of that first person narrative that was clear on much of his previous work and looking at a variety of characters. 'What you really want to do in a song is make sure to express how you feel about something and I always did that in the context of talking about my own life, and with the play I realised how satisfying it was to express it in other stories', Adam told us in a recent interview. 'That was very liberating for me. I didn't really think of that when I was starting this record, but I knew that I really enjoyed writing for the play.'
Six years after the release of their last album of new material 'Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings', Counting Crows are back with 'Somewhere Under Wonderland'. While the album sees them back with producer Brian Deck, it's their first venture on Capitol Records and takes a different tone to their previous material.
We caught up with frontman Adam Duritz during his promo trip to the UK to talk about why he's taken a more character-based approach, the childhood memories behind their new tracks 'Palisades Park' and his plans for the coming months.
Contactmusic: 'Somewhere Under Wonderland' is your first new material in six years. Was this long intermission intentional?
Adam Duritz: Well, we just did a record a couple of years ago [covers album 'Underwater Sunshine']. When you're in a band, the songwriting's not really the main thing you do. Working in a band is to do with the collaboration between everybody to make a record. But for us that was just an evening-filler record. Also the reason we did that record was because I was working on a play at the time and I didn't want to write two different things at the same time; that seemed really confusing to have to be writing a song and trying to decide where it was going to go. It was just hard to do that so I wanted to write for one thing and make a record. It was actually a busy year than normal because I'm writing one thing and working on a recording.
Continue reading: Counting Crows - Interview
Counting Crows' seventh studio album 'Somewhere Under Wonderland' is a welcome return for Adam Duritz's band. While it's certainly not a record that's taken six years to write ('Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings', the Crows' last full length batch of original material was released in 2008), this new release has been worth the wait. The tracks here have been informed by the intervening years of touring and switching record deals. There's a more independent spirit evident in these nine songs and, although they've never bettered their mercurial debut in the studio, some moments here certainly come close.
It's also a bold album. Take, for example, opening track and lead single 'Palisades Park'. At eight and a half minutes, it's not the instant choice for an opening statement, but somehow it works and remains one of the best compositions here. It opens with an elongated instrumental section of gin-soaked trumpet and piano, which sounds like a piece of Tom Waits reportage from the gutter. Suddenly, a bolder piano line takes over accompanied by Duritz's urgent delivery of fever dream lyrics, featuring friends and lost love. His words are littered with pop culture references. A personal favourite is the veiled compliment of, "You're a downtown pride, fully amplified Clyde. Gin-tight and ageing, but well preserved". The bar-band sing-along chorus takes you into more familiar Crows territory and there's an unmistakable feeling of self-reference throughout. At times, 'Palisades Park' strikes you as a companion piece to 'Anna Begins', while seemingly echoing the lyrics of 'Have You Seen Me Lately'. But this isn't a way to re-live past glories, rather a successful attempt to embed the track into Duritz's existing songbook.
Despite the perceived excess of the running time of the opening track, the remainder of 'Somewhere Under Wonderland' is surprisingly concise. Clocking in at just over forty minutes, the nine songs develop the themes of lost protagonists and their redemption to an increasingly impressive soundtrack of guitar solos and thundering organs. Duritz's often humour-tinged tales of alienation are densely packed with diverse references that take some time and attention to unpick (for example, 'Elvis Went To Hollywood' manages to mention Alex Chilton and Victor Frankenstein in the same line). However, whether narrating traditional rock songs or country ballads, Duritz's approach is hardly pretentious, rewarding is a far more suitable description.
Continue reading: Counting Crows - Somewhere Under Wonderland Album Review
With the release of Counting Crow's seventh studio album on 2nd September, 2014, the band has released a video accompanied by their track, 'Earthquake Driver'. The video is a shows some art being drawn on the pavement with the track serving as the second on the album.
31st July, 1991