19 June 2005

Stand Up for DMB

I don't frequently do out-and-out reviews, but Dave Matthews Band's latest deserves one.

There are two kinds of DMB listeners: Those who knew or discovered them at the beginning who loved them because they were fresh and unafraid to explore the limits of their capabilities, and those who know or discovered them after radio play made them popular when they began to package their tunes for "listenability." I belong to the former category. Thus, it is a great sense of relief and joy that I cheer their latest studio CD, "Stand Up."

"Stand Up" is most like "Crash." There is no seeming beginning or end to these songs, and yet each is a stand-alone piece. I was prepared to be bored and am fortunately disappointed in that expectation. Each song caught my attention in its turn. Prepare yourself for long intros, long solos, and a different style every 5 minutes. It's a testimony to what they've recorded that I cannot ignore a single track on this CD, yet I've managed to ignore all of "Everyday" and "Busted Stuff." You can tell Dave's lyrics are off-the-cuff, written at the end of the creation period, not the beginning. Even his ever-present "mad ramblings" fit and add to the rhythms in a way that his pre-thunk lyrics never did. The point of this album doesn't seem to be so much "Listen to what I have to say," as it is "Listen to our sound." That sound is big, brash, and invigorating in a purely musical way that hasn't been heard from them on a studio album since "Before These Crowded Streets." Producer Batson has an ear for a hook AND for a line and sinker; even the most repetitive of these tracks ("Louisiana Bayou") draws you in to the diversity and talent of the individual band members. Grunge bass with funk sax? Classical violin pizzicato with R&B vocals? Piano licks with metal guitar? It's all in there, a party for the ears if you care to listen to your music instead of let it wash by you.

I predict a lot of people will hate this CD, but those people are the ones who never developed an appreciation for the individual genius of each of DMB's talented members to begin with. Let them whine. I, on the other hand, want to celebrate.
Welcome back, Dave, Boyd, LeRoi, Carter & Stefan!!

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