Steady go the Crows

The Raconteurs
“Consoler of the Lonely”
3.5 out of 5 stars

Better known as Jack White’s other band, you may remember that the Raconteurs had a top-10 album in “Broken Boy Soldiers” and a moderately big single in “Steady, as She Goes” back in 2006. The Raconteurs surprised just about everybody when they announced that their second album was not only finished, but was being released in all mediums in a week.

This album feels much more cohesive from start to finish than their debut effort, which was built around one song. Musically it’s a garage-style, bluesy rock record that spends just as much time looking backward as it does forward, splitting the difference between the White Stripes’ creative freakouts and co-front man Brendan Benson’s hook-laden power-pop.

Featured members White and Benson continue to swap lead vocal duties, though White does get the majority. The rhythm section of the Greenhornes’ Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler is still solid. It’s a meatier, much-improved and unified effort that isn’t perfect, but is plenty of fun to listen to.

Key Tracks: “Consoler of the Lonely,” “Old Enough,” “These Stones Will Shout”

Counting Crows
“Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings”
3 out of 5 stars

The Counting Crows are back once again with another set of emotional middle-of-the-road rock songs that are sure to be a hit among all generations, especially middle-aged soccer parents. Many of singer Adam Duritz’s favorite topics of discussion grace this record: Los Angeles, Sundays, Amsterdam, angst-filled self-deprecation, and people coming around.

Perhaps I’m being overly harsh on the Counting Crows right now. After all, I would be lying if I said I don’t pull out my copy of “August and Everything After” on a regular basis. Besides, this is a perfectly pleasant-sounding record that fits in nicely with the rest of their canon. I guess my big beef is that it sounds like every other record the band has put out. But if you’ve heard one Counting Crows album you’ve heard them all.

Key Tracks: “Come Around,” “Los Angeles,” “You Can’t Count on Me”