1993, Music

Kerosene Hat (1993) by Cracker

I don’t know what I would have thought about this record had I not known that the lead singer of this band was in Camper Van Beethoven, but I suspect I would feel differently.

I find Lowery’s songs to be so much more conventional. Some of that likely comes with maturity, as age usually makes artists more conservative and less willing to take (crazy) chances. But they sure are conventional compared to his previous songs for his previous band. (Maybe that was the influence of other members. Or maybe it was the arrangements that took straight forward songs and made them crazier. I don’t know.)

The later CVB albums sound more earnest to me than the original albums; some of that is Lowery (or whomever) becoming more subtle as a lyricist, but some of it is also the desire, I believe, to not just tell jokes all the time. But much like the later CVB songs, it feels like Lowery is trying to walk a line here between earnestness and humour, and it just doesn’t work for me. He wants to have it both ways and I can’t say I find these vignettes particularly amusing nor do I find them poignant.

Cracker is not Camper Van Beethoven and I should stop comparing the two bands, but this feels so much more like everything else, than CVB ever did. The sound of this record is so “generic rock pretending to be alternative” to me, albeit with a roots grounding that makes it better than some of that stuff. Even then, though, it feels like the “alternative” aspect of this record is a set of clothes, even though I know the members come from the alternative rock road. To me, it feels like it’s one step away from the mainstream, and on some songs it really feels closer to classic rock or classic rock-inspired music than it does alternative, which makes the vibe feel a little false.

It’s competent for sure, but it does nothing for me at all.


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