For more than two decades, Counting Crows have enchanted listeners worldwide with their intensely soulful and intricate take on timeless rock & roll. Now, on Somewhere Under Wonderland —their seventh studio album, the Bay Area-bred alt-rock band push into new terrain with a revamped songwriting approach that’s adventurous and visionary but still rooted in raw emotion. Propelled by the same earthy passion that’s instilled their songs since 1993’s multiplatinum August and Everything After, Counting Crows (vocalist Adam Duritz; guitarists David Bryson, David Immergluck, and Dan Vickrey; bassist Millard Powers; keyboardist Charlie Gillingham; and drummer Jim Bogios) build each of Somewhere Under Wonderland’s nine sprawling songs around rich sonic tapestries and a storytelling-esque lyricism that yields some of their most grandiose yet intimate songs so far.
The follow-up to Counting Crows’ 2012 covers album Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation), Somewhere Under Wonderland was heavily inspired by its predecessor’s reworkings of beloved songs by artists like Bob Dylan, Big Star, Gram Parsons, and Faces. “Making the covers record did something extraordinary to the band,” says Duritz. “It really opened us up to a lot of new ideas on how to make music.” After touring in support of Underwater Sunshine, the band wrote Somewhere Under Wonderland in a few feverish bursts while camped out at Duritz’s Greenwich Village loft for several weeks in the Fall of 2013, then took to Berkeley’s Fantasy Studios in parts of December and February to pair up with producer Brian Deck (a repeat Counting Crows cohort who’s also worked with Iron & Wine, The Shins, Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s, and Modest Mouse). As the album came to life, the band saw that interpreting the work of other musicians helped expand their own songwriting and sound. “Singing other people’s material and taking on different perspectives, we sort of stepped away from music being solely a vehicle to express whatever I was going through,” says Duritz. “I started allowing myself to write about things I might never have allowed myself to write about in the past, and some really great songs came out of that.”