Cracker has released their tenth studio effort, entitled Berkeley To Bakersfield, on 429 Records. It’s a double-album that finds this uniquely American band traversing two different sides of the California landscape – the northern Bay area and further down-state in Bakersfield. With founding members David Lowery and Johnny Hickman anchoring the project, they’ve brought in a host of musicians to help out, including putting together the original Cracker lineup for the Berkeley side (see credits below). Berkeley to Bakersfield was recorded by Drew Vandenberg. 429 Records released the album worldwide on December 9th.
Despite being less than a five-hour drive from city to city, musically, these two regions couldn’t be further apart from one another. In the late ‘70s and ‘80s a harder-edged style of rock music emerged from the Bay area, while Bakersfield is renowned for its own iconic twangy country music popularized, most famously, by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Yet despite these differences, they are both elements that Cracker’s two cofounders, David Lowery and Johnny Hickman, have embraced to some degree on nearly every one of their studio albums over the last two decades.
As Lowery explains, “On the Berkeley disc the band is the original Cracker lineup - Davey Faragher, Michael Urbano, Johnny and myself. This is the first time this lineup has recorded together in almost 20 years. We began recording this album at East Bay Recorders in Berkeley, CA. For this reason we chose to stylistically focus this disc on the music we most associate with the East Bay: Punk and Garage with some funky undertones. To further match our sense of place we often took an overtly political tone in the lyrics.”
“This Bakersfield disc represents the ‘California country’ side of the band. Throughout the band’s 24-year history we’ve dabbled in Country and Americana but this time we wanted to pay homage to the particular strain of Country and Country-Rock music that emerges from the inland valleys of California.”