Cracker: Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey
This is a review by request, but it’s not unfamiliar territory. Back in the early ‘90s, WXRT in Chicago had Cracker songs in steady rotation. Because “Low” and “Get Off This” were especially appealing, I purchased “Kerosene Hat.” As much as I enjoyed the tracks I heard on the radio, my CD never got played that often. For some reason it didn’t hold my interest. Being that it was a different time, I was a different person, and I no longer have a copy of the album, it seems appropriate to give Cracker another try.
It used to be almost a sure bet that a band so far from the peak of their success would not be releasing anything to rave about. This is not necessarily the case anymore. Many classic “mature” artists are producing music that is as good, if not better than their glory days. “Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey” is a perfect example of this phenomenon.
Now Cracker has not necessarily progressed, or expanded their musical horizons. What they have done is perfected that quirky, humorous, alt-rock style that we fell in love with back in the day. High marks are also given for consistency. While some songs are definitely better than others, I do not see one particularly weak track on this album. The band is in top form (with some help from a few other notable musicians), and David Lowery still sounds like the rock and roll version of Randy Newman.
What is truly remarkable is the energy conveyed by these veteran rockers. If I played “Show Me How This Thing Works” for someone not familiar with Cracker, they would think it was a new group of young guys. The same it true of “We All Shine a Light.” This is also one of the tracks where they show topical relevance.
“Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me” is probably the weakest track from a musical perspective, but it is irresistible in its simplicity and mocking of the hippie aesthetic.
“Friends” is the best country parody by a rock band since the Rolling Stones’ “Far Away Eyes.”
My favorite song is “I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right.” It has an extremely cool and infectious groove. But that’s not all. With closer listening, an unexpected complexity is revealed. The band really catches fire on this one, but keeps it in control at all times.
There are other great moments, but those are my highlights. This is a very good album, and well worth checking out. It is great fun, but also not lacking in substance. The punk influenced alternative style harkens back to another time, but it sounds fresh. With most bands that have a history, I would advise starting out with an earlier work. In this case, “Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey” would do just fine for a new Cracker initiate. Way to go guys!
David Lowery – guitar, lead vocals
Johnny Hickman – lead guitar
Frank Funaro – drums, backing vocals
Sal Maida – bass
John Doe, Patterson Hood, & Adam Duritz