The Counting Crows dove into the music scene during the early 90s and haven’t looked back since. I think all of us can think of one Counting Crows song and remember a distinct time and place when that particular song hit the airwaves. They wrote great, radio friendly tunes that boasted solid songwriting miles ahead of any other radio, one hit wonder band during their prime. Now, its time for a little bit of respect to be handed out to the band that gave us such rousing hits like, “Mr. Jones” and “Round Here,” a band that probably had some sort of positive influence on half of the bands that pay tribute to them here.
Cover songs, let alone a tribute album, can be a scary place to visit. Let’s face it, cover songs over the past few years have been agonizingly generic and plain. Often times, bands try too much to put their own little flavor into the song and end up overflowing the song with their touch and the cover turns out just plain messy. Then other times, bands pour no creativity into it and you end up getting an updated, carbon copy version of the original song. The line is so fine that many bands just never seem to pull it off.
Not the case with this indie tribute to the Crows; Dead and Dreaming. Each band does an above average job of taking a classic song and putting just the right amount of personality into the song. The results: 12 extremely well done tracks that I believe would make Adam Duritz and friends smile from ear to ear. The songs give you the impression that there was a good amount of time and energy poured into them from the beginning stages to the finished product.
The tribute album starts out with more of the lesser known, easy on the ear paced Counting Crows songs after Rydia opens the album with a solid performance of “Angels of Silences.” The Rocket Summer gives one of the top of the line efforts on the track “High Life” where the vocals really differ from the original. Boys Night Out strips down their hardcore armor to deliver an acoustic and mellow performance of “Walkaways” which was a nice bolt from the blue. The album then shifts to the radio rock hits where Punchline ups the tempo with “Round Here” and gives the song an impressive coating of pop punk that sounds really clever. Houston Calls might do the best overall work on covering the song “Einstein on a Beach.” They implement keyboards and synthesizers to offer a really unique spin on the track. I was also incredibly impressed with Hidden in Plain View’s rendition of “Mr. Jones.” They keep true to the song mainly, but overall, they did a great job instrumentally and I can tell this Drive-Thru band has really tightened up, and the outcome is very notable.
I had high expectations for this album, and in all honesty, the bands exceeded my expectations. Each and every band did just enough to the original songs and each knew the right formula for making the cover song work. With so many cover songs just not worthy of being listened to, this was no easy task. Each band showed that no matter what, great songwriting in any form can be appreciated on many levels and in many genres.
(The Vinyl Summer)