Cracker's latest, Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey, may scream clear-eyed optimism in its title, but longtime crumbs David Lowery and Johnny Hickman instead are exercising their well-known eccentricities across a batch of songs loaded with irony and a jaundiced outlook. The lacerating title track, in fact, is all about skirting the apocalypse. Virtually all the material was written by the entire band, which also includes bassist Sal Maida and drummer Frank Funaro, and the sound wanders from power pop to punk, new wave, Southern rock, bluesy reveries, and inebriated country. It all hangs together maybe better than you'd think, because the band plays it fast and loose and there is, at the core, an anthemic quality fueled in large part by the guitars. The lyrics, meanwhile, are about as wacked-out quirky as those of Lowery's other band, Camper Van Beethoven, with musings about the sorry state of the world referencing soldiers in Iraq, mysterious objects from space, a Pakistani cricket team, a 1983 riot at a Dead Kennedys show, Captain Beefheart, and a renewed interest in the old '60s inclination to turn on, tune in, and drop out. With Cracker crankin' 'em, it pretty much is a riot. With Dead Man Winter. 18+.
Sat., Aug. 15, 7 p.m., 2009