Cracker’s heading back to town, and they’re armed with X-powered punkness. The band release its 429 Records debut Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey in May. It’s mix of classic rock, punk, glam, and alt-country is more aggressive and guitar-heavy than some might expect. Special guests on the tracks include John Doe of legendary L.A. punk band X, Patterson Hood of Athens alt-country/rock band The Drive-By Truckers, and Adam Duritz of California alt-pop band The Counting Crows.

The band recorded the collection in Athens, Ga., with veteran musician and studio producer David Barbe. “We weren’t kicking back on an island in the Caribbean, waiting for the muse to hit us,” singer David Lowery said in a press release. “We got down to work, found the punk and glam-rock in our blood, and woke up to Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey.”

Johnny Hickman, Cracker’s the guitarist, singer, and co-songwriter since 1992, agrees. “We go through mutations and changes and we just sort of follow our own muse, and we just sort go with it,” he told City Paper last week. “Punk rock has always bee a big part of our musical diet. Almost every album has one or two songs on them that sort of allude to that, naturally.” (click on the audio clip at the right to listen to Hickman’s statement).

One “punk” song in particular on Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey caught the City Paper‘s ear: the minute-and-a-half “Hand Me My Inhaler,” which nearly copies a song titled “Los Angeles” by John Doe’s band X. Click on the audio sample of X tune at the right, then click on the Cracker tune below it to compare: both have very similar intros and straight-ahead tempos. Hickman admits it’s a “tip of the hat to X.”

With drummer Frank Funaro and bassist Sal “Black Sal” Maida aboard, Cracker shares the Windjammer stage with local bands The Classic Woodies and Crowfield on Fri. July 31. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the music starts pretty early (probably around 8:30 p.m.).

See and for more.