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Counting Crows

Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings (Geffen)

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Counting Crows' fifth album — the group's first collection of new songs since 2002's Hard Candy — is a two-for-one deal: half-electric, half-acoustic. The general debauchery and dissolution detailed in the raucous Gil Norton-produced first part of Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings is underscored by fierce, blasting guitar riffs. In the hooky "Hanging Tree," singer Adam Duritz compares his life to a whirling vortex without brakes, while the yelping "Sundays" suggests suicidal despair. Yet it's not redemption the Crows offer in the acoustic half, produced by Brian Deck. In fact, there's as much misery — or at least a kind of morose unfulfillment — as there is in the first section. "On a Tuesday in Amsterdam Long Ago," "Anyone but You," and "You Can't Count On Me" are all sorrowful paeans to love that got away. The gloom level may be high, but if there's any redemption to be found here, it's in Saturday Nights' surging electric energy.

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