The early ’90s music scene saw a break in the heavy metal niche which had been holding fort in Tastee Freeze parking lots across this great land for some time. This cleansing shift blew in from many directions at once as grunge, gangsta rap, jam, and boy bands all took over the airwaves in a fight to reach the creative top in song or style first (and not necessarily in that order). At this time, a band by the name of Cracker sat back and wrote songs about the happenings around them; albeit relationships, hippies, or the music industry, these observations weren’t without a healthy dosage of irony piled on. To say that they turned the music industry’s attention on itself would be too bold and out of character for these rock ‘n rollers; they simply played it as they saw it. In so doing, they won the respect of legions of fans.
Recorded in Athens, GA by David Barbe (Drive By Truckers), Lowery and company have offered up an album that speaks of a world outside of the listener’s usual, everyday peripheral. Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey is complete with brash power rock in a glam scope which is all contained within a fringe of country.
As harsh as the physical terrain depicted throughout the album, and on the Iraq heavy lead, "Yalla Yalla," the literary landscape is also peppered with David Lowery’s ability to mesh literary complications into a musical poetry of motion. This talent is evidenced on "We All Shine a Light." Many people might get tripped up on singing an ode to Pakistan’s cricket team, but not Lowery. "Light" may not have the easiest passages to sing along with in the car, but it will have the volume knob turned to the right. John Doe of the seminal punk band, X, is along for the ride in the vocal department, and the pairing is a perfect blending of distinctive vocals.
Which brings the listener to "Hand Me My Inhaler" with its opening churn reminiscent of X’s "Los Angeles." While Doe is not featured on this track, the pacing, Johnny Hickman’s fierce, yet not overstated guitar solos, harmonies, and timing, all give a nod in that direction. This track rocks.
The studio’s companionship also saw an appearance by Patterson Hood for vocals on “Friends,” and the Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz on "Darling One." This B3 whirling track even features Kevn Kinney on guitar. Cracker has proved year after year, album after album, and tour after tour, that they are a true rock band that hasn’t run out of the creative steam which first propelled them to hit the stage.
Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey is out now on 429 Records.