“August and Everything After” is the debut album from American rockers Counting Crows released on September 14, 1993. In the height of grunge rock superstars emerging to the forefront with uncombed hair, tattered clothes, and the chiseled, smoldering expressions that tied it all together, Counting Crows front man Adam Duritz appeared on the scene seated comfortably (or uncomfortably) in his awkwardness. While musicians like Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder crooned about dismal tropes and the disillusionment sweeping over society in the early ‘90s, most of their lyrics focused on the dissatisfaction with everything around them. Duritz, on the other hand, used his voice to express his own personal dissociation and emotional struggles, vulnerably baring the insides of his mind to a lost legion of predominantly young men, seeking solace in the howling vibratos of the grunge elite. This often left listeners forced into squaring the circle, relating their own inner turmoil to fit within a cynical, angst-ridden genre of guttural vocals, despite the mismatched and often cliché lyrics of the scene’s cover boys. As a counter, Duritz in all his wobbly, dreadlocked, cumbersome stage presence, presented a song catalogue about his own insecurities, taken straight from the pages of his private journals. The album’s cover depicts a sepia-stained example of one such entry titled “August and Everything After,” which infamously lived solely within the pages of the album’s insert, Duritz’s mind, and listeners imaginations until the Counting Crows finally released a studio version of the song twenty years later as an Amazon Music exclusive. Throughout the album, Adam reminisces about the stale state of his hometown, the quiet suffering of his perceived inadequacy with women, and the mental monologues anxiously volleying cat and mouse conversations that will probably never even take shape. Citing inspiration from Van Morrison, Adam’s signature vocal stylings sing slightly behind the beat, making it sound like he’s always playing catch up but in reality, this technique forces listeners to digest each syllable, embedding the words to memory against the backdrop of cheerful guitars and melodic keys, resulting in the ambivalent sing-along to top 10 hits about sleep deprivation, substance abuse, self-pity, and melancholic nostalgia, similar to Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” or Matchbox Twenty’s “3AM” years later. Experience the cathartic heartbreak of an album that has gone on to sell more than seven million copies by streaming songs like “Rain King,” “Round Here,” and the Billboard top 5 hit “Mr. Jones” from this impressive debut now on Spotify!
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