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Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey
429 Records
May 5, 2009
Time Machine

It was 15 years ago, give or take, when Cracker ruled the airwaves of my college radio station. Kerosene Hat and the Encomium Led Zeppelin tribute album were in heavy rotation, and no one could have forseen that the rest of the '90s, and a good part of the '00s, would see not stunning stardom, but a series of lineup changes and mixed success. Thankfully, Cracker is back in a big way with their latest release, Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey, an album which combines alt country "Americana" with a late '70s/early '80s punk sensibility.

Frontman David Lowery is in fine form on album opener "Yalla Yalla (Let's Go)," quirky lyrics a sort of tribute to the men and women of the American Armed Forces currently serving in Iraq, layering their swaggery slang (Yalla Yalla means "hurry up" in Arabic) atop shock-and- awe drumming and in-your-face guitar. Equally fresh and topical, yet classically Cracker, is the first single "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me," a laid back twangy ditty about leaving a big brother society behind for an agrarian utopia somewhere in Cascadia. Later, Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers joins Lowery on the back country ode to dysfunction, "Friends," a slow country churn about redneck bars, parking lot fights, and ex girlfriends that sounds something like "Eurotrash Girl" rubbing up against "Friends in Low Places."

Much of the material here swings further towards the punk end of the spectrum, however. "Show Me How This Thing Works" has a geeky, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy vibe going for it, upbeat guitar and driving drums seeming to belie lyrics about weird things falling from the sky and physics laboratories. Former X'er John Doe hops aboard for the practically epic "We All Shine A Light," an urgent punk anthem (and ode to Pakistan's Peshawar Panthers cricket team) that's half electrified surf rock, half nursery rhyme with an insistent chorus that goes from statement to command by song's end. Both "Hand Me My Inhaler" and "Time Machine" are short punk rockers that get in, make a point, and get out: the former is a 92-second- long quarrel with an ex-girlfriend, the latter a trip back in time to 1983, seemingly alongside Bill & Ted, Wayne & Garth. As if a counterpoint, the album's two longest pieces seem to trail off into the distance, as if not certain of their destinations: both "I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right" and "Hey Brett (You Know What Time It Is)" repeat their respective choruses over and over like a mantra before wandering off into a lengthy outro somewhere on the horizon.

Worth special note (for somewhat different reasons) are the two final tracks on the album. "Darling One" is a duet with Adam Duritz, a somewhat too romantic ditty that seems as if it'd be more at home on a Counting Crows album with Lowery pitching in, instead of the other way around. The title track, on the contrary, is the excellent way to ride off into the sunset: with a sunrise, epic vocals almost straining to be heard among the music as the burning meadows rage, apocalypse looms, and it seems as if our society's best years are behind us. For Cracker, it seems that might not be the case.

Favorite Track: "Time Machine"

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Michael Fiegel is a freelance writer and graphic designer. His diverse background includes journalism, radio copywriting, technical writing, game design and music reviewing. He is best known as the creator of the Internet cult sensation, Ninja Burger and the Hellas: Worlds of Sun & Stone RPG. He can be reached at or at his website,

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