Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Dave Matthews Band is one of those bands that you buy every album they produce “note-unheard.” Still, most of those sorts of bands require some time for each album to sink in, ripen, and be evaluated. This year they released what many are calling their best album ever—“Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King.” It will take some time yet to make that determination… so for now, in this writer’s opinion, that honor goes to “Before These Crowded Streets.”

Really an argument could be made for any of the band’s first three albums. There are gems such as “Ants Marching,” “Satellite,” and “Crash Into Me” just to name a few titles from the first two albums, but Streets has track after track that blow those away:

You may or may not object to the content of “Rapunzel” but musically, it is crazily impressive. The meter changes from 5/4 to 4/4 to 6/8. As far as those edgy lyrics, Dave sure can write creative and poetic sexual imagery.

“The Last Stop” may be the best track on the Album. As always a lyrical treasure, this time about the age old conflict in the Middle East. Musically, Bela Fleck guests and banjo is always a good thing in pop-culture.

“Don’t Drink the Water” is a song exploring the treatment of native culture by the “invading” cultures, mainly in North American history. Once again we have banjo, and Matthews displays some great vocal variety. (This song’s topic has provided some great songs from other artists as well, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden springs to mind.)

“Halloween” stands out as creepy song, not the atmospheric musical song that is scary, but a creepy lyrical message that is delivered in a way that has to shorten Matthews’ career every time he performs it. One of the amazing things about this band is the way they make variety a part of their consistency. Everything manages to sound fresh while at the same time sounding as if it is coming from the same band.

The last track on the album “Spoon” explores what David thinks Christ may have been thinking as he went to the cross. Whereas most bands traditionally or stereotypically focus thematically on sex, drugs and themselves; DMB’s songs tend to wonder about politics, philosophical ideas, and religion… oh, and sex but in a far more creative (and candid, for those who think about the lyrics) way.

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