CD Review of Countrysides by Cracker
Cracker: Countrysides
Recommended if you like
The Clash, Patti Smith Group, X
Reincarnate Music
Cracker: Countrysides

Reviewed by R. David Smola


n the 20-plus minute Quick Time movie included on the Countrysides disc, David Lowery, the leading creative force in Cracker, makes it clear that this record is going to be a country record done Cracker style. In a review of their last album Forever, I wrote:

“David Lowery, the primary force behind Cracker (and the defunct Camper Van Beethoven), is the guy that got A's in college, even though he never went to class and was at the bar everyday enjoying spirits at Happy Hour. He was the guy that read the book and aced the tests. His lyrics are always the type to kind of make fun of you, but done in a way where you end up singing along, not really realizing it.”

That description really applies more to this new record than ever. Countrysides contains eight songs written by artists like Hank Williams Jr, Merle Haggard and Dwight Yokam (along with one Lowery composition which may be the greatest kiss off song to a record company ever written). The material was practiced during several dates at small “towny bars” in Virginia, Arizona and Alaska where Cracker masqueraded as a shi* kickin’ country band named Ironic Mullet. This album is brilliant in that Lowery and company play great versions of these songs not celebrating the composition’s attitude but ridiculing it. The organic production to these tracks and live feel provide the perfect presentation. They feel as if they leap off the CD player and into your living room or car, turning it into some dive bar in Little Town, America.

Johnny Hickman’s twangy guitar solos are perfectly executed and Kenny Margolis’ accordion work darn near steals the record. If you understand that Lowery’s ornery soul is always going to poke a stick at the sleeping dog, than Countrysides is absolutely brilliant. It certainly isn’t what I expected after 2002’s Forever. That is the great thing about Cracker, because I don’t ever know what to expect and more often than not, what is delivered is really good.

Other Cracker reviews:
Forever (2002)

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