“American Girls” (Counting Crows Cover)

Originally posted 2008-09-01 14:29:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Happy Labor Day to one and all!  I’ve always thought that it was interesting that there is very little “labor” accomplished on Labor day, but I suppose it’s more an appreciation and celebration of all the labor that is done on the other 364 days of the year.  Regardless, I’m not complaining that I don’t have to work on this beautiful, sunny day — what a magnificent first day of September it is, at least here in good ole Connecticut, USA!

And September 1st is not only Labor Day, but it’s also the birthday of my girlfriend, Nicole.  So, to help her celebrate it, I figured there’s no better way than choosing and recording a song for my music video today that she would love.  This is actually a song that I just played her for the first time a couple of days ago, and she immediately loved it.  “American Girls” is the second track on the Counting Crows’ Hard Candy album.  It’s notable for being one of two songs from this album to make the greatest hits.  Although it was a very mild hit, I think it’s a great song.  And I can’t believe that it took me years to figure out that Sheryl Crow contributes the background vocals!  I picked up this album used from FYE a couple weeks ago and figured that out as I read the liner notes.  It was definitely a “Duh” moment…

The album is one of those that starts extremely strong — the first four tracks are simply amazing.  “Hard Candy” starts off the album and the first couple lines are among my favorite that Duritz has ever written.  Then comes “American Girls.”  The third track, “Good Time,” is not anything special, I suppose, but I really like it.  And I love “Richard Manuel is Dead.”  Those first four tracks are a tour de force.  Then, the next few tracks slow it down, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it never really picks back up to the quality of those first four tracks.  So, while I like the album, I can’t really fall in love with it.  It’s one of those albums that, by track eight, you’re fighting the temptation to skip back to track one.

But, if you buy this album, don’t flip back to the first track without hearing the last track, “Holiday in Spain”!  It’s one of my favorite songs from the Counting Crows.  It starts off with just piano and Duritz’s vocals, and gradually builds up to a triumphant final verse and chorus.  For those of you who don’t know me, I just love it when a song begins with no drums or minimal drums, then really kicks into high gear!  For instance, that’s probably why “Pretty (Ugly Before)” is my favorite Elliott Smith song on From a Basement on the Hill.

Well, that’s enough music commentary for one day.  I’m off to have some lunch, celebrate Nicole’s birthday, celebrate Jim’s groundbreaking new purchase (I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it in his next post!), and try to get some work done amidst all the excitement…

See you next session!

“You Can’t Count On Me” (A Counting Crows Cover)

Originally posted 2008-06-03 23:15:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to another all-new Laptop Session! Today’s selection is “You Can’t Count On Me,” from the Counting Crows’ new album, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings. This record is a concept album of sorts, as Adam Duritz sings his way from a raucous Saturday night out on the town to a Sunday morning of realizations. I’ve been really excited about recording a tune from this album — there’s been a lot of good new music this year so far, but this has been one of my favorite albums. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Duritz and company, but I have a lot of respect for him as a songwriter and a performer after listening repeatedly to the album.

I hope you like my cover song version of this song, and if you do, you should check out the official in-the-studio videos posted on the Counting Crows YouTube channel. And don’t forget to come back to http://LaptopSessions.com tomorrow for another quality video blog post from our very own Jeff Copperthite…

See you next session!

“Round Here” (Counting Crows Cover)

Originally posted 2008-04-05 10:50:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Happy Saturday to you! Welcome to your Saturday installment of The Laptop Sessions. We’re doing a sort of “twin spin” as WCJM.com Free Internet Radio likes to call it, as I bring you another tune by The Counting Crows, which were featured yesterday by Chris as well (and quite awesomely at that).

One of their most popular songs is today’s performance – “Round Here” from their album August and Everything After. While being one of their best, it is also one of the most difficult to sing and play. My voice still feels it a bit from singing the song.

Lead singer Adam Duritz always has an affinity for improvising a lot of lyrics, and changing singing styles frequently, so I wasn’t too worried about singing on time. I also wanted to combine the electric guitar riff, with the background chords, so I used a capo (although the song by no means requires one) and melded the two riffs so the bass note was hit on each chord, as well as the main riff. While the idea works in this performance, you can see it is quite difficult to sing the song and play this riff simultaneously. However, you’ll see this is quite effective, and I feel you will enjoy this quite a bit.

Just like Chris mentioned, I have also been listening to their new album Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings and I LOVE the new single. Hopefully later this year we’ll do some songs from that album.

Also, be sure to check out the Youtube channel jimfusco.com/albums.html at http://www.youtube.com/user/jimfusco.com/albums.html, as videos from our performance at SCSU have been posted. You can see Masters of the Universe plus myself rocking the house!

I hope you check back tomorrow for another wonderful session from Jim, and I hope you enjoy today’s installment!

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Jeff’s acoustic cover song music videos are no longer on YouTube, but we decided to keep his cover song blog posts up.  We figured these music blog entries would be good for posterity’s sake and because Jeff always gave such insightful posts each Session.  We hope to see Jeff’s impressive catalog of acoustic rock songs here on the Laptop Sessions cover songs and original music blog again in the future.  But, for now, please make sure to check-out hundreds of other acoustic cover songs from all of your favorite bands here on the Laptop Sessions music blog!

Counting Crows’ “August and Everything After” (1993) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-04-25 22:40:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  3.5 / 5 stars

If you’re compiling a list of the best debut albums by nineties rock bands, August and Everything After certainly deserves a place beside other great first releases like Cracked Rear View (Hootie & the Blowfish) and Gordon (Barenaked Ladies).

The question is, of course, just how high it should place.

There is no question that Adam Duritz and company establish a characteristic sound on this album, a sound that formed a solid foundation for their career.  Duritz’s vocals are such an important component — perhaps the key component — of the band’s sound that the instrumentation and background vocals have very little wriggle room to achieve a fitting mix.  In that sense, August and Everything After highlights the configuration that has clicked: a largely acoustic arrangement with subdued electric guitars.  mandolins, and the Hammond B-3 filling in the gaps in all the right places.

As a band, the Counting Crows strike the rare balance between sounding as if they are playing off the cuff and as though every note is planned and purposeful.  Steve Bowman’s drums seem to be the pin holding all the other aspects together, rising and falling in tempo and volume as each song unfolds.

What holds this album back from true greatness is its adherence to this arrangement.  On first listen, several of these songs could blend together in the listener’s memory, as the band seems more concerned with stretching out and getting comfortable than ripping any of these songs apart and driving them home.

Counting Crows' "August and Everything After" (1993)

Counting Crows' "August and Everything After" (1993)

Still, there are some absolute gems here, and Duritz clearly established himself as one of the most unique, interesting, and versatile vocalists on record.  “Round Here,” for instance, is the perfect specimen of a Counting Crows track, a moving song that set the bar high for all of their songs to come. 

On “Omaha” — a song that always conjures BnL’s excellent “Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank for me — they take it up a notch.  “Mr. Jones” provides the proof that the Counting Crows were destined for radio hits, if on their own terms.  This is no cookie cutter pop song; instead, it settles in at some points and rocks out at others.

Later, Duritz and company treat the listener to two gems, “Rain King” for those looking for an infusion of rock and “Anna Begins” for those more inclined to the heartbreaking beauty that few songs pull off so poignantly.

After this, August and Everything After requires patience to fully appreciate its purpose.  There are some standout deep tracks like “Perfect Blue Buildings” and “Time and Time Again,” but these songs would probably benefit from having a minute or so trimmed off.  And this is not my pitch with A&R in mind, hoping to appeal to the masses.  Rather, I have to believe that if a song doesn’t offer something significantly different or compelling for the listener after three minutes or so, then it’s time to reign it in.

“Sullivan Street” needs not fall under scrutiny, though: this is a flawless deep track that deserves all four and a half minutes of its duration.

The remainder of the album suffers a bit from the self-indulgence most prevalent here on the final two or three tracks.  There are some moments of brilliance, and yet at other times, you might be left wondering when the song will be over.

Perhaps mine are the antsy rantings of an impatient man, but I’d like to believe not.  And I have a great respect for this album.  After all, it is a debut, and one that is imbued with such honesty, passion, beauty, and potential that there must have been no question of the great work that was to come from this young band.

(To be certain their follow-up release, Recovering the Satellites, more than makes good on the promise implicit in that aforementioned potential!)