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Following the Music In: Counting Crows and Somewhere Under Wonderland

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Somewhere Under Wonderland, the latest release by Counting Crows, starts off with “Palisades Park,” a song sounding like something you might overhear coming from an open window as you walk past a college’s music department. That sort of overheard feeling, a great effect, disappears within the first minute or so of “Palisades Park” though.  The rest of SomewhereUnder Wonderland, their first album of new material since 2008’s Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, is intimate and present—like you are right there.

No Concept Album, Thankfully

Songs like “God of Ocean Tides” and “Possibility Days” have a definite presence where the studio has provided a stage rather than a place where things get changed. The songs here give you something new with each listen, one of those rare albums that keeps giving returns the more you listen to it.  There are some hit songs of course, such as “Scarecrow,” “Palisades Park,” and especially “Earthquake Driver” with its progression through enthusiasm to knowledge. Overall it’s an incredibly varied album.

There’s everything from the country-inspired “Cover Up the Sun” to the cogent rocker about the King, “Elvis Went to Hollywood.” This varied collection works great as a whole though, like some of those 70s albums by the likes of Three Dog Night and other groups when they sometimes eschewed themes and unity for a collection of great songs.  This is definitely a collection of great songs—and a great album.