Counting Crows - August and Everything After (1993)
August and Everything After is Counting Crows' first and best record. There is no better album ever made to listen to on a rainy day. Maybe the band drew inspiration from their native San Francisco as that area of California is no stranger to dreary days, but while the album itself might have a gray feel, the tracks find their way through the gloom to remain listenable 30 years after the record's release.
To be fair, August and Everything After sold a bunch of units. In the United States alone the record sold 7 million copies and went multi-platinum in several other countries, but three decades later no one is talking about this record as one of the better records of the 1990s and it most clearly is. Perhaps the record eventually was overshadowed by the several great grunge albums that were being released around the same time.
Counting Crows overall, and August and Everything After specifically, is the antithesis of grunge. The band can still produce some fantastic straight-ahead rock songs, such as "Angels of the Silences" from the band's second record, Recovering the Satellites. But the intent of the band on their first album is to make bluesy-folk with amazing lyrics and interesting vocals.
The band started off as a duo, vocalist Adam Duritz and guitarist David Bryson. Soon, though, the duo wanted to be able to do things other than acoustic shows and members were added. Many of the songs from August and Everything After were recorded during this time. Part of the rawness of the band forming likely helped make the magic of more of the raw tracks on the album, such as "Raining in Baltimore."