Somewhere Under Wonderland Image
Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 17 Ratings

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  • Record Label: Virgin EMI
  • Genre(s): Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, American Trad Rock, Alternative Country-Rock
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. In between, we get plenty of striking melodies, at least a dozen quotable lyrics (“Tomorrow’s the name we changed from yesterday to blame when the train just don’t stop here anymore” is an instant Duritz classic), and an arrangement that shows off the Crows at their loosest and most vibrant.
  2. Sep 15, 2014
    80
    Still channelling Lynyrd Skynyrd, REM and the Band, the rest of the Crows keep the tyres on the tarmac like pros.
  3. Sep 17, 2014
    80
    It contains some of the band’s most ambitious and thought-provoking songs.
  4. 75
    A colorful and emotionally rich palette of sounds that combines past recording styles, flavors from covers album Underwater Sunshine, and the spontaneous spirit of their live performances.
  5. Oct 2, 2014
    70
    Don’t try to call it a comeback or a resurgence or some other dismissive, backhanded compliment, because between August and Recovering The Satellites, they got better. Between Recovering The Satellites and This Desert Life, they got better. Ditto for Hard Candy and then ditto for Saturday Nights. The best part about Somewhere Under Wonderland? Yes, that trajectory keeps its pace, but it also assures anyone still listening that in 21 years, that story probably won’t be any different.
  6. Aug 29, 2014
    70
    They sound refreshed again here, even if their classy, Music From Big Pink-inspired roots-rock has changed little from the default settings established by their brilliant debut August And Everything After 20 years ago. [Oct 2014, p.69]
  7. 50
    Somewhere Under Wonderland teems with lyrics full of rambling travelogue and mystical gobbledygook. Mr. Duritz sings them confidently, in a voice that’s not as laden with meaning as he seems to think, and preserving his shambolic nature.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 6
  2. Negative: 2 out of 6
  1. Sep 9, 2014
    10
    This is the best album the Counting Crows have produced since Recovering the Satellites.

    I can't find any filler on this album. Yes, there
    are songs I don't particularly care for ("Elvis Went To Hollywood"), but there are no "WTF?!" moments. There's no equivalent to "New Frontier" (from Hard Candy) or "A Tuesday in Amsterdam Long Ago" (from Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings"). The band plays its ass off on each and every song.

    If you're a fan of the band, one of the first things you'll notice is that many of the songs are more abstract than the songs Adam Duritz usually writes. "Elvis Went To Hollywood" and "Scarecrow" both leave me scratching my head as to what they're about. But I still enjoy "Scarecrow".

    To me, the standout tracks are "John Appleseed's Lament" and "Possibility Days". Either of these is easily worth the price of the whole CD. So just consider the others a bonus. :)
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  2. Sep 5, 2014
    10
    Seriously? Someone just compared Adam Duritz's writing to Tom Delonge's writing. What a joke. This album IS different lyrically than Counting Crows' past work, so obviously you didn't give it much listening time. If you are a Counting Crows fan you will love this album. No matter which of their albums you've loved in the past. This one is a taste of all of them. Incredible songwriting. Some of their best work ever. Just amazing. Enjoy. Expand
  3. Sep 4, 2014
    9
    Great Album. REFRESHING to hear in the current state of folk-rock/acoustic folky stuff that is popular at the moment.... Its full of Electric Guitars and the best work they have done since This Desert Life for sure, maybe even recovering the satellites. Pallisades Park could be the best song he's ever written. Expand
  4. Sep 10, 2014
    4
    Clearly the sound is the same, the band knows their roots. I will give them that. But the album seemed like the same song, with a slightly different arrangement and lyrics. But the album has a certain "feel" that was boring and not worth exploring. Additonally it doesn't sound "new" if that makes sense. Yes CC you have done this sound/song already time for something out of your comfort zone. Expand
  5. Sep 3, 2014
    3
    Very disappointing.

    Except for Palisades Park, a kind of avant-garde song, no other song on the album feels new (but even the chorus of
    that song is kind of lame instrumentally). Every song feels like a retread of some Counting Crows song or another classic rock song. Lyrically, Adam Duritz still seems in the same place as he was back in 1993. I would think at this point he would have some direction in his life or some good things. He's in his 50's now. For example, with Tom Delonge of Blink-182; you don't expect him to sing about going to parties at his age. He matured and started a real band in Angels and Airwaves.

    It has been a long time since the mediocre Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings (2008). Therefore, it surprises me that in 6 years, the Counting Crows could not have come up with some really great songs for this album.
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  6. Sep 4, 2014
    3
    Adam Duritz's songwriting on the Counting Crows' debut album "August and Everything After..." (1993) and their excellent follow up "Recovering The Satellites" (1996) was impressive and impactful because of his unique ability to sing with such utter honesty about specific girls at specific locations that the songs still somehow translated into relatable music. It was Adam's authenticity that stood out on classics like "Goodnight Elizabeth," and "Anna Begins". Their uneven fourth disc "This Desert Life," (1999) also has some terrific tunes, but by the time "Hard Candy" (2002) was released, Adam had developed into a masterful pop songwriter, constructing gems such as the title track, "Miami," "Up All Night," and "American Girls".

    Since then, things have started to unravel.

    It took six more years before "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings" (2008) was released, and it was a bit of a letdown. The honesty and relatable aspects of Adam's lyrics seemed to be missing, and he just seemed to be trying a bit too hard. The album was mostly a collection of forgettable tunes with a false authenticity, although "You Can't Count On Me" and "Insignificant" were standouts.

    Six years later, and now "Somewhere Under Wonderland" is somewhere between awful and annoying. Adam seems to have completely lost the art of the song craft. While Across A Wire (1998) documented a pair of the Crows' once incredible live shows, their concerts have begun to devolve into an inconsistent exercise in theatrics and over-expression on behalf of their lead singer, and Adam's overacting is on display on this studio record. It is one thing to go off on a tangent in a live jam, but without a solid song behind it, the performance just comes off as a meandering act of masturbation. Songs that are about nothing go nowhere, and his once-raw lyrics have been replaced by attempts at clever wordplay that are actually just annoying gimmicks you would expect from a second-rate beat poet. One or two songs could perhaps be characterized as "catchy" with easy hooks, but the songs are so shallow and meaningless that the listener is quickly bored. Mostly, however, the songs on this album are just overwritten, crammed with words upon words upon words with attempts at wittiness that only feel contrived and without any structure.

    There are two songs worth mentioning. "John Appleseed's Lament" is very interesting. It is wholly derivative of their earlier work, but to such an obvious degree that I must give them the benefit of the doubt and say it is more like a live mash-up, with samples of guitar riffs and lyrical themes borrowed from across their catalog. If it was intentional it is genius.

    The last song on the album is Possibility Days, and while it doesn't quite justify the $10 purchase price of the full album, it at least makes me not wholly regret the purchase. Unlike the rest of the songs on the album, this song actually breathes. The lyrics tell a new story of another one of Adam's famous failed relationships, and with a well crafted structure that carries the listener as it builds into a climax. This is a truly great tune, and I can only hope that as the final track on the album, it was also the most recent song Adam wrote for it, and perhaps it's a tease of a great album due out six years from now.

    My advice: buy the last two tracks on the record, and consider the act of skipping the rest as cash (and time) well-saved.
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