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Cracker — Berkeley to Bakersfield

Cracker — Berkeley to Bakersfield (December 9, 2014)

United States            Cracker — Berkeley to Bakersfield Cracker — Berkeley to Bakersfield, NOMINATED excellent album for 8th Tais Awards 2015.
λ•   David Lowery's post–Camper indie rock outfit kept the irreverence while amping up the rock riffs in the 1990s.
Birth name: David Charles Lowery
Born: September 10, 1960, San Antonio, Texas
Location: Redlands, California ~ Athens, Georgia / Richmond, VA
Album release: December 9, 2014
Record Label: 429 Records
Duration:     70:53
Tracks:
Disc 1
01 Torches and Pitchforks     2:12 
02 March of the Billionaires     3:38 
03 Beautiful     3:03 
04 El Comandante     3:07 
05 El Cerrito     5:04 
06 Reaction     2:39 
07 You Got Yourself Into This     3:14 
08 Life in the Big City     3:52 
09 Waited My Whole Life     4:14 
Disc 2
01 California Country Boy     3:14 
02 Almond Grove     4:36 
03 King of Bakersfield     4:57 
04 Tonight I Cross the Border     4:19 
05 Get on Down the Road     4:58 
06 I'm Sorry Baby     4:44 
07 The San Bernardino Boy     2:58 
08 When You Come Down     4:05 
09 Where Have Those Days Gone     5:59
2014 SLG, LLC
Written by:
λ•   Davey Faragher / Johnny Hickman / David Lowery / Michael Urbano     1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
λ•   Scooter Carusoe / Greg Lisher / David Lowery     9
λ•   David Lowery / Trent Summar     2,1
λ•   David Lowery     2/2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9
λ•   Johnny Hickman / David Lowery     2/6
λ•   Johnny Hickman / Chris LeRoy     2/7
Group Members:
λ•   Bob Rupe
λ•   Brandy Wood
λ•   Davey Faragher
λ•   David Lowery
λ•   Frank Funaro
λ•   Johnny Hickman
λ•   Kenny Margolis
λ•   Sal Maida
Review by Mark DemingScore: ****
λ•   Though he was born in Texas, at heart David Lowery has long been a true Californian, and his musings on life in the Golden State have often dotted his albums with Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. Camper Van Beethoven even recorded a pair of concept albums about California, 2013's La Costa Perdida (about the northern part of the state) and 2014's El Camino Real (focusing on Southern California), and apparently Lowery had enough ideas about the West Coast left over for Cracker to try something quite similar. Released in 2014, Berkeley to Bakersfield is a two–disc set that offers a pair of distinct perspectives on this band's musical approach and the mythos of California life. Part one, Berkeley, finds Cracker rocking decisively with a set of lean, guitar–driven rock & roll tunes set mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, where various forms of bohemia struggle (and not cheerfully) to coexist with the city's new status as a high–tech boomtown. The second act, Bakersfield, predictably enough finds Lowery and company bringing in a handful of guest musicians and playing loose–limbed country tunes, full of bittersweet celebrations of life in the inland valleys along with a strong dose of Don't Tread on Me defiance. The Bakersfield tunes are the purest country music Cracker have released to date, with a rich dose of twangy soul that doesn't negate the frequent seriousness of the lyrics as Lowery's high–attitude vocals blend with Matt "Pistol" Stoessel's pedal steel and Luke Moeller's fiddle. And the rock tunes sound sharp and muscular, with guitarist Johnny Hickman, bassist Davey Faragher, and drummer Michael Urbano bringing lots of spark and plenty of color to the proceedings. Brian Wilson may have invented the rock & roll ideal of California, but David Lowery is doing more than his share to chronicle the way life is lived in his adopted home state in the 21st century, and Berkeley to Bakersfield is one of Cracker's most ambitious and satisfying sets in quite some time, as good as anything they've given us since Kerosene Hat in 1993. :: http://www.allmusic.com/
Review
by Nick DeRiso, November 26, 2014
λ•   Locals will tell you that Berkeley and Bakersfield are less than five hours apart. λ•   Still, there’s always been little to link the two — until now. With the forthcoming Berkeley to Bakersfield, you’ll find Cracker happily traversing the road in between.
λ•   Of course, Cracker always stood with a foot in each one of these California music beds, blending the dusty whine of Buck Owens with the punky attitude of the East Bay area. But their radio songs didn’t necessarily underscore that tendency, and certainly not to the degree that Cracker’s new two–disc project does.
λ•   Divided into Berkeley and Bakersfield sides and due on December 9, 2014 via 429 Records, the album makes a point of fully exploring the twinned inspirations that drove David Lowery and Johnny Hickman. They even reconvening the original Cracker lineup for the first time in decades to complete the Berkeley disc. As expected, that side — which features shared band credits on eight of the nine tracks — is dominated by garage funk, and a more political edge. But there was always something more to Cracker, as gorgeously enunciated on the Bakersfield disc.
λ•   The results are easily the most complete statement of purpose from Cracker since 1993’s Kerosene Hat, which spawned the memorable hit “Low” but also the twangy “Lonesome Johnny Blues.” “Waited My Whole Life,” this album’s advance single, smartly bridges the two sides.
λ•   Interestingly, Berkeley to Bakersfield actually grew out of a period apart for Lowery and Hickman. In the five years time since Cracker’s Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey, Hickman has worked with Jim Dalton while Lowery returned to his pre–Cracker outfit Camper Van Beethoven. Clearly, the time away sparked something.
λ•   So did working with former members Davey Faragher and Michael Urbano again. λ•   They began with a few tour dates, then ultimately collaborated extensively on Berkeley; Faragher returns to provide backing vocals on Bakersfield. (Bryan Howard and Sal Maida share bass duties on the latter.) Along the way, they complete a smart summation of what always made Cracker such an intriguing amalgam.
λ•   Part angsty alternative and part Mick Taylor–era Stones, they could also sound like the bastard love child of Jim Lauderdale and Levon Helm. That is to say, country but not shit–kicking country. This is country with real soul, in the manner of Porter Wagoner’s “Green, Green Grass of Home” — as heard on the devastatingly sad “Almond Grove.” Couple it with the tough attitude of Berkeley, and you get closer to solving the riddle — the gloriously weird, utterly unique riddle — that has always been Cracker. Fortaken: http://somethingelsereviews.com/
Also:
By Charles Pitter 9 December 2014; Score: 8
:: http://www.popmatters.com/review/188835-cracker-berkeley-to-bakersfield/
Editorial Reviews
λ•   Cracker releasing their tenth studio album, entitled Berkeley To Bakersfield, a double–album that finds this uniquely American band traversing two different sides of the California landscape the northern Bay area and further down–state in Bakersfield.
λ•   Despite being less than a five–hour drive from city to city, musically, these two regions couldn't be further apart from one another. In the late 70s and 80s a harder–edged style of rock music emerged from the Bay area, while Bakersfield is renowned for its own iconic twangy country music popularized, most famously, by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard in the 60s and 70s. Yet despite these differences, they are both elements that Cracker s two cofounders, David Lowery and Johnny Hickman, have embraced to some degree on nearly every one of their studio albums over the last two decades. On Berkeley To Bakersfield, however, instead of integrating these two genres together within one disc, they ve neatly compartmentalized them onto their own respective regionally–titled LPs.
λ•   As Lowery explains, On the Berkeley disc the band is the original Cracker lineup — Davey Faragher, Michael Urbano, Johnny and myself. This is the first time this lineup has recorded together in almost 20 years. We began recording this album at East Bay Recorders in Berkeley, CA. For this reason we chose to stylistically focus this disc on the music we most associate with the East Bay: Punk and Garage with some funky undertones. To further match our sense of place we often took an overtly political tone in the lyrics.
λ•   This Bakersfield disc represents the California country side of the band. Throughout the band s 24–year history we've dabbled in Country and Americana but this time we wanted to pay homage to the particular strain of Country and Country–Rock music that emerges from the inland valleys of California.
Website: http://www.crackersoul.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheBandCracker
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CrackerSoul
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Cracker — Berkeley to Bakersfield

 

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