Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King

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Jun 8 2009, 4h39

This is my review/opinion on the latest Dave Matthews Band album released June 2, 2009. I've been a big fan since 1997, met Dave once, and seen them at least 16 or 17 times live (I eventually lost count).

I don't think this album is bad, and I do like it, but directionally speaking, it reminds me a lot of Stand Up. It does not, however, remind me of Everyday, because that was more like a "this is what Dave Matthews Band would sound like without Leroi and Boyd" album, whereas GrooGrux, while remaining contemporary, shows a raw emotion, good instrumentation (though not really exploiting those opportunities as much as I'd like) and it does have some great songs that I think will be improved upon live. For the record however I am wearing thin at all of the songs in which Dave sings about "the devil" and "jesus, god, and angels". Its a common theme a lot of their songs focus on, and I just feel there are other things to sing about. But, yes, gone are the days of 'Warehouse', 'Nancies', 'Tripping Billies', 'Recently', etc. etc... that style, format, and looseness that made them unique is no longer. They are not the same bad they were 10 years ago, but they are in no way running out of steam or creativity, and I think GrooGrux is better than Everyday and Stand Up (though I liked Stand Up too). I wouldn't rate it with UTTAD, Crash, or BTCS but it takes a spot at No. 4 for me, and I respect the band's feelings toward this album and their homage to their fallen bandmate. Here is how I rate their prior albums and why:

#1 - Before These Crowded Streets (1998): Coming into their own, full use of instrumental potential, beautiful production
#2 - Crash(1996): Sophomore album, excellent songs and beautiful instrumentation, though somewhat cautious
#3 - Busted Stuff(2002): Though not as raw and glowing as the scrapped rough-take of the Lillywhite Sessions, the songs are remarkable and the band does not give up its unique sound.
#4 - Under The Table And Dreaming (1994): The first major-label release. Great songs, good production, however it has that "new band being careful" sound, but this is often regarded as everyone's favorite.
# 5 - Stand Up (2005): The band took some risks, some of the songs are good live jams, others fell short.
#6 Everyday (2001): The band took a major sharp turn in a strange direction on this album. 3 minute tight pop rock songs with very little sax & violin, this is an album that would show us what Dave Matthews Band would sound like with just guitar, bass, and drums. Nothing overly creative, very plastic and conforming.

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