Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dave Matthews Band Offers Up New Single

The Dave Matthews Band recently offered up a free download of the first single, "Funny The Way It Is", from their upcoming album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. Download the track via their website here. The album will be released June 2 on RCA Records. The name "GrooGrux" was a nickname of the late LeRoi Moore, the founding saxophonist band member who was with the band for seventeen years.

I downloaded the track earlier today, and as a Dave Matthews Band fanatic since the mid-90s, I would like to offer up my honest opinion, as I have seen the bands highs and lows.

The song starts off with an orchestrated, choir-like stringed symphony and gently brings in some quiet taps of the bongos, which are sounds that are rather unfamiliar with any of the band's previous efforts.

The electric guitar comes in, maybe from Tim Reynolds, with a catchy riff that you'll end up hearing all throughout the song. There's a soft, calmness in the sound of Dave's voice as he sings "Lying in the park on a beautiful day...sunshine in the grass and the children play..."

Carter Beauford quickly jumps in, with his rash drumming style, while the violin playing of Boyd Tinsley remains as graceful and heartfelt as ever.

They jump into the typical, pop-rock sounding chorus, which will probably put them on the radio, however, the quick jam that follows and leads back into the verse should leave plenty of room for an impromptu jam session during the band's live show.

They basically continue with the same verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge setup you typically see in pop-rock songs that you'll hear on the radio. There's some nice solo work though, from Tinsley on the violin, and Reynolds on the electric guitar. They even add a few notes on piano towards the end, but before you know it, the song is over.

The way that the song ends so quickly, leads me to believe that this could be one of those songs that the band continues to just jam out to in concert, leading into another song, although, don't rule out the possibility of them playing it just like it is on the record.

Like any new song, it generally takes some listening until you feel comfortable and at home with what you're hearing. My main concern with the band and the album is just that.

I've been listening to the band for nearly half of my life, most of their career, and this will probably be the album, not that makes or breaks them, but rather, this will be the album that will ultimately decide the direction the band takes in the future.

As I listened to this song, over and over, over the past few hours, of course the first thing I noticed was the abscence of saxophonist LeRoi Moore.

I fell in love with this band long ago, partly due to the live show that they present. Hell, they were the band that made me fall in love with live music.

As far as their sound goes, it was what LeRoi brought to the band in particular, simply because it was something rare in pop-rock groups, something a lot of bands have not done before or after.

The Dave Matthews Band used to have some jazz in their music, but I have to say, those days are gone. We all pretty much knew this when LeRoi passed away late last summer, but I guess it just didn't hit me until I heard this song.

In the 25+ times I have seen the band perform, I have only seen them once play without a sax player, something they had hardly ever done in their entire career. That was last year's show in Cincinnati, however, it was still a great show, it just didn't feel right.

Now they can bring in Rashawn Ross (of Soulive) on the trumpet, Tim Reynolds on the guitar, and anyone else they want to bring to add to the mix. I respect the work that both of these musicians have done with and without the DMB, and chances are, I'll probably dig anyone else they bring in.

The loss of LeRoi just doesn't feel right. It's not the same band, it never will be. This album will be the biggest turning point in the band's career, but I'll never leave their side.

I'll continue listening and going to shows until they quit or I no longer can physically do so. They were the band that showed me how much greater a live performance was than regular studio work.

The spark that was lit in the beginning when I fell in love with the DMB may not shine as bright as it once did, but I'll never blow out the flame that lights that candle.

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