Blues Traveler: Suzie Cracks the Whip

Blues Traveler
Suzie Cracks the Whip
(429 Records)

The summer of 2012 will likely go down as the “Summer of ’90s Nostalgia.” All the Gen Xers (myself included) who rolled their eyes through childhood while the Boomers re-lived every inane musical milestone of their generation somehow found themselves carrying the torch over the past few months, as everyone from Everclear to Marcy Playground trotted out new records and tours packed to the gills with graying musical acts.

Joining the parade is the latest release from Blues Traveler, their first in four years, and the result is… well, surprisingly good. Destined to be remembered as “that band with the harmonicas” from the ’90s, the group has wisely reached out to other musicians to help jumpstart flagging creativity, and turns in a solid release. The outside help writing songs didn’t completely reinvent the band, but pulled them out of the rut they’d been in for the past several years.

Yes, there are some clunkers, like the tedious “Devil in the Details,” which sounds like a Santana cast off, and “I Don’t Want to Go,” but there are still plenty of really good songs here to keep you rooting for the band. The infectious “Things are Looking Up” is hard to ignore, and “Big City Girls” is bound to become a sing-along staple for here on out.

As we’re just starting to learn for the AARP set, you can’t relive your childhood, but damn, is it fun to try.