The Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites

So the replacement record of the day is:Counting Crows “Recovering the Satellites” 



Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites: 2 stars

Precon: Puke factory. Ok, that’s a little strong and I don’t have much to base it on, but I never cared for these guys. The singer is annoying, the music is unappealing, and the hits got severely played out because of sappy pop rock’s universal acceptability. Let me reiterate that I have very little to base this on, and I’ve only heard a few of their songs so there is room for surprise. I remember being shocked when I found out one of my suitemates in college liked them. It just didn’t seem possible. A guy my age liking Counting Crows. He might as well have been a Britney Spears fan. I can’t really explain this, but that’s how I felt.

Favorite Track: Angels of the Silences
Least Favorite: Long December

The first song reminds me of a video game. Zelda 2?
Well the dude’s voice is still annoying.
I’m pretty sure part of Daylight Fading is from the guitar solo in November Rain.
Wow, this guy really gets under my skin. Not all the time but a good 67% of the time. The end of I’m Not Sleeping was tough. I hate to be the guy who’s hung up on the singer’s voice, because I don’t like when people dismiss bands I like for that reason, but I might have to make an exception in this case.
The music isn’t as insipid as I remembered. Not too impressive either but ok. The album seems expertly produced. Everything is clean and crisp and mixed well.
I liked the first half of Miller’s Angels.
Oh god Monkey…I want to punch this song in the face.
Fking Long December. I totally forgot about this song. Hopefully I can get back to that place.
Man, I was hanging in there for a while, but the album finally caught up to me. Some of it was decent generic pop rock stuff, but it didn’t do much to interest me and I just want to kill that guy with the dreads. God is he annoying.


Pre-Conceived Notions:  This is one of my picks.  I’m almost positive that was fairly obvious, but I did want to confirm, so that if anyone feels the need to complain, they know where they can direct their arguments.  I bought this because of Long December as I’m sure many, many people did.  Before that, I was slightly annoyed by Counting Crows and the over-played “Mr. Jones” but this album was probably one of the first that really broke the dam in terms of listening to “my own” music.  Before that, with a few notable exceptions, I was listening to mostly what my parents were playing in the house or in the car.  I was never really averse to any of it, but this album was released at the right time in my life.  As soon as I heard Angels of the Silences, I was hooked; it’s still one of my favorites.  It’s just one of those albums that I can always rely on.  When I’m feeling nostalgic it brings everything back, but at the same time, I still find that I love it on its own, even if this would be my first time listening to it.  I’ll always come back to it.  It felt like all of the things my romantic notions loved, and still love.  It’s the perfect combination of rainy days, moodiness, honesty and love, or something like it at least, but with a combination of guitars, piano, and strings that I’ve always just been a sucker for.  None of my friends were huge fans in high school, but I remember one of the first guys I met at college was and he burned me a copy of Hard Candy.  It’s just one of those things that sticks with you.

Afterwards: This is another album I really just don’t want to break down too much.  I like my memories and my emotions associated with it.  To take away from that would be a disservice.  That being said, there’s perhaps not a lot new on here.  Maybe Counting Crows were a result of luck and circumstance in the music industry, but I’m fine with that.  Most of the songs have either choruses or bridges with a slowed-down tone in contrast to the angstier verses, without being too annoyingly, pop catchy.  I’m not sure that I could ever hang out with Adam Duritz, but I like his passion.  I think for a lot of people their enjoyment of this band rests on their opinion of him, which is understandable, but slightly unfair. This is the sound of growing up in the suburbs.  It’s mostly scrubbed clean and well-fed, but all those annoying, debilitating and necessary emotions still get in the way.  It’s weird thinking about it now, how many things I can recall about my life in reference to Counting Crows, or maybe that’s just the nostalgia typing.

Favorite Songs:
Angels of the Silences-this is one of those that had steady repeat in my room as I was often not ready to stop dancing around.  There’s something that now reminds me of The Gin Blossoms about this song.  The imagery was always what got me.  There’s just something earnest about it.
Goodnight Elisabeth-I always liked this spelling of the name more than my own, but be that as it may.  It’s essentially a lullaby, what’s not to like? It also reminds me of “Holiday in Spain” off of Hard Candy.  There’s a dream-like quality to it.
Miller’s Angels (I’m suddenly sensing a theme)
A Long December

Least Favorite Song: I really don’t think I have one

Overall: 5


Preconceived Notions:  Blasphemy as it is to say it potentially in certain spheres, I think this is my favorite Counting Crows album.  I know I may not seem like your typical CC fan, but I really enjoy 3 of their albums – this one, August and Everything After, and Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.  It’s partly a college thing, partly a Boston thing, and partly b/c if anybody likes angsty or depressed well formed lyrics…it’s this guy (I’m pointing at myself but you can’t see it)

After Listening: Musically this is not an incredibly deep album.  Though the guitar could be missed by causal listening and is in that sense much more technical and well arranged than one might think, overall the music does what it’s supposed to do-which is create the atmosphere of whatever agenda the lyrics are aiming for. The instrumentation soundscape on this record is a bit larger than their 1st one – electric guitar & string sections being added into the mix with such “August and Everything After” standby’s as accordion, harmonica, and tambourine.    To me CC’s lyrics always have been closer to poetry in construction, and why they fail from time to time to avoid some clichéd pitfalls, largely the have their own unique voice.  Counting Crows to me are at their best when they veer away from trying to “rock”, any time they do that they tread that odd place between pop and happy rock – and despite what the lyrics say, the music seems helpless but to follow that path.   So I prefer the brooding pieces, and for many critiques of the band I can see where this wears them out.  Adam Duritz’s voice is an acquired taste that could be dismissed as everything from overly dramatic, indulgent, to simply “off-key” in places.  His status as a minor celebrity, has predictably drawn a certain amount of backlash, which probably also factors into the analysis of non fans.  At their roots though, the Crows are about fashioning a sort of folk rock poetry, which in its finer moments borders on smart simple art rock.

Favorite Tracks: “Goodnight Elisabeth” –  The simple electric guitar riff that gives way slowly to a warm acoustic accompaniment, sets the feel perfectly before the bass can even get there.   The lyrics about a guy losing a girl again, but wishing her well anyway – well it’s been done before of course, but this one has a unique voice.  Particularly that second verse “We couldn’t all be Cowboys, so some of us are clowns” right over the meditative piano line.   We even get a restrained guitar solo in this one that sets up a rather poignant lyrical finale…”If you wrap yourself in Daffodils, then I will wrap myself in pain…and if you’re the queen of California than baby I am the king of the rain.”
“Children in Bloom – We get musical tension from the beginning, and with the 1st loud drum kick a half beat before the lyrics begin – we are presented with the very bleak picture of a frustrated and unfulfilled person.  To me, I identified with this one very early in life – as it carries its true frustration and disappointment in failed or delayed dreams just under the surface.  How to get out? How to change? How to survive? The depth of those feelings break through in places like the guitar solo, but they return to that steady bassline & keys, as if subdued back under the surface waiting to strike out again.  The song plays with this construction of burst and release which heightens uncomfortability….”I can’t find my way home”…as the song grows behind him and seems to overpower Duritz at last.
“Recovering the Satellites” –  There’s an interesting and persistent bassline behind most of this, but really it’s the jagged guitar work-simple and subtle that carry the voice early on.  I’ve always liked this song for all of its elements- multi-voiced chorus, lyrics (it’s a lifetime commitment recovering the satellites when all anybody really wants to know is when you gonna come down?) ,  the aforementioned bass and guitar work, but it always really grabbed me at the part…where his voice starts to come in…in pieces where “she ..she sees shooting stars and comet’s tails” the emotional context of the song is sort of driven up at this point.
“Walkaways” – Since we don’t mention enough about actual album flow, I love this song’s placement after the epic, and dramatic “Long December” .  A simple solo acoustic guitar, backing a vocal line, that begins oddly – with a false start.  But in the context of the song, both the false beginning, and the abrupt end are a perfect match.  It’s a song really about struggling with the concept of “someday”  imperfect, and undefined, and having to be put aside in short order, b/c contemplating it for too long will swallow you.  Walkaway clean.

Least Favorite Tracks:  I’ve listened to this album so many times, that even if I had songs I didn’t care for at 1st, they have become assimilated.  Honestly (I could probably sing most of them line for line with little prompting)…I can get nippicky as I could do without some of the “rocky” moments in the opening 2 tracks, or the forced strings in “I’m not sleeping”…but none of these ruin the songs for me beyond being listenable.

Overall 4.8 There may be more of me wrapped up in this record, than simply the music at face value.  And if you appreciate the Counting Crows at all that probably makes perfect sense.   I’ve had slow nights drinking beer, long isolated road trips in a speeding car, and simple sunny afternoons listening to this record. It’s versatile without making you consciously aware of that fact.  It exists as an emotive powerful effort that also allows a listener to personalize it, and that becomes a great strength – allowing repeat visits not because you want discover something new, but because you want rediscover something that moved you.


Preconceptions: I know the songs that were hits and probably nothing beyond that. I’d have to say I like what I’ve heard, and I imagine the album cuts will be cool too. I also know that lead singer Adam Duritz has an impressive list of Hollywood love conquests. I never understood how, but I imagine its his knack for turning thoughtful and heartfelt phrases. Good for him

After Listening: Yeah man, I can dig this record. There’s a lot about this band that I like, I’d say. I’ve been hesitant to call myself a fan, and I still wouldn’t say that I am, but I think there is something really genuine about the lyrics and musicianship, and I really appreciate that. Its straight forward kind of rock, and I wouldn’t say its bold or trailblazing at all, but its solid and I can dig it.

Favorites: Probably the title track
Least: Eh, nothing stands out as bad, but I didn’t really like I’m Not Sleeping that much. It didn’t connect with me, and something about the structure of the song was a little counter to my taste.

Overall: 3.9 stars

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Record Club began in the cold, dank, snowmageddon scene that was New England of January 2011. We’re probably no different than you. We all work in cubicles, some in smaller, less private cubicles than others; that just means we have to be even sneakier about how we listen to our music. But we have to listen to our music, mostly as a way of saving our own personal sanity. Sometimes our opinions lead us to debates that may or may not be published in their entirety on this site, but I can promise you’ll at least get a glimpse of the way our minds work. The main goal is to find new music we like or find old music that we didn’t know we liked. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes it’s a total and complete disaster. After our ears have rejoiced or stopped bleeding we try something else. This is our pattern, every Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes, when the club isn’t officially in session, just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw in a theme day. We’re beginning to run low on our original list, so please, if you have albums that you’d like us to review or themes that you’d like to see our playlist of, feel free to contribute. After all, we’re all in this together once we punch the time clock. So if you’re busy (or just plain bored) lurking in your cubicle as you read this join in. After all, life wasn’t meant to be lived staring at a computer screen. I guarantee you, it’s at least more fun when you plug the headphones in.

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