ISSUE #8 FEB 06

Chris

Dave Matthews Band
"Stand Up"

19th October 2005
Cover reviewer: Chris
rating: 0 out of 5
published by:
released:
  1. Dreamgirl
  2. Old dirt hill
  3. Stand up (for it)
  4. American baby (intro)
  5. American baby
  6. Smooth rider
  7. Everybody wake up (our finest hour arrives)
  8. Out of my hand
  9. Hello again
  10. Louisiana bayou
  11. Stolen away on 55th and 3rd
  12. You might die trying
  13. Steady as we go
  14. Hunger for the great light

Prior to the turn of the century, Dave Matthews Band had carefully cultivated a hardcore fan base. From their debut Under the Table and Dreaming through to Before These Crowded Streets, the band evolved their folk/rock/jazz influenced sound. For many, this was the DMB at their best (their two most popular albums amongst long term fans are Crash and Before These Crowded Streets). Then, just as everything seemed to be going smoothly, the band starting having problems. Dave was unhappy with studio work produced under Steve Lillywhite, and so turned to Glen Ballard. What resulted was a record so mainstream, with so little evidences of their influences, that many fans were outraged. So outraged that many failed to recognise that Everyday was as good as album their debut, and a cunning move on Daveís behalf. Now, in 2005, and 3rd album into their post-millenium era you canít help but raise a sly grin.

The trio of post-millenium albums consisting of Everyday, Busted Stuff and now Stand Up, shows a remarkably similar path of evolution to their trio of pre-millenium albums. Everyday was quite clearly the bones, setting out a more mainstream sound for the band. On Busted Stuff, Dave and the band resurrected some of the records ditched from the Steve Lillywhite recordings, and threw in some new ones. What resulted was a more fan-friendly album (the influence of violinist Boyd Tinsley, and reed man Leroi Moore were certainly more pronounced), but the angle was very much mainstream orientated, no song ran on for 8/9 minutes like most on Before These Crowded Streets. Now, we come to Stand Up, the next, and possibly final step, in this evolution.

Stand Up is their best post-millenium work to date. Whereas Busted Stuff felt light weight, Stand Up sounds like the band finally get what their new direction has been all about. The tunes float along easily, their jazz and folk influences finally sit comfortably in a mainstream rock framework. Boyd and Leroi donít fight to be heard, as their influence is used to add some needed depth to the record, adding to easy flowing sound. As for Carter Beaufordís drumming, this is his finest work since he and Stefan Lessard brilliantly anchored the sometimes wayward Before These Crowded Streets. In fact, the only real problem with the album lies with Dave himself. His voice rarely gathers much force, instead letting it drift, almost behind the music, afraid to disrupt the easy ebb and flow of the album. This means that the few politically charged songs donít have enough force behind them to truly convince. Ultimately, Stand Up has no truly memorable moment like Crash Into Me, Bartender or indeed Ants Marching but then it also contains no Poudest Monkey or Kit Kat Jam.

Stand Up should please long time Dave Matthews Band fans. For first time listeners it is as good an introduction as you can get to Dave Matthews Band. The inoffensive but lively tunes are a good showcase for the bandís abilities. Unsurprisingly, Dave Mattews and his fellow band mates are now one of the biggest (if not the biggest) acts in America. With band now fully able to merge mainstream rock and their jazz/folk influences, they will continue to be for a few more years to come at least.

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