Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King

Big Whiskey and the Grooogrux King, is the first album of new material from Dave Matthews Band since 2005’s Stand Up. While it’s been a long wait between records, the band has had time to grow even deeper and work harder to polish their act with countless road shows and never ending tours, resulting in sharper, tighter music. So, is Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King worth spending your money on? Let’s spin the disc and find out.

Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King starts off with Grux, a tribute to deceased member LeRoi Moore, who passed away while recording of this album was underway. Grux is a short little number of just LeRoi on the saxophone. It’s a great way to start the disc and a nice tribute to the memory of LeRoi.

Grux bleeds right into Shake Me Like A Monkey, a solid opening track with a full on jazz ensemble of trumpets, horns, and a delightful groove that makes your feet move whether you want them to or not. It’s a delicious lead off track and a strong Dave Matthews Band Song.

Funny the Way It Is, the lead single from this release, is an amazing song; one of the best Dave Matthews Band has done in quite some time. It is a fast paced groove with meaningful lyrics and a lot of spirit. Boyd Tinsley’s violin has never sounded better, and he gets his moments to shine throughout this song. Over the course of the live shows, this song will be able to develop into a full on jam, spanning more than 10 minutes, if they decide to perform it that way.

Things slow down with the next song, Lying in the Hands of God. It’s a weaker song, perhaps the weakest of the disc. The melody has faint traces of 1993’s I’ll Back You Up, but the song isn’t as well constructed as that gem. Unfortunately, I found myself skipping this song quite a bit.

Why I Am follows and restores everything to order. According to Dave Matthews, this was LeRoi’s favorite song during the sessions that led to the recording of this album. A rocking song with a solid drum beat delivered by Carter Beauford, Why I Am delivers excitement. The call out to LeRoi on this song is touching as well. Tim Reynolds guitar shines through and is an excellent addition to this track.

Dave’s voice is strong on this disc. The years of singing on the road have not done any damage to his vocal chords as he still sings well. The addition of Tim Reynolds on guitar (his first recording with the band since 1997’s Before These Crowded Streets) is a welcome one. His guitar playing is brilliant and he lends an overall important element to the music.

Boyd Tinsley is amazing on the violin once again. His solo on Funny the Way It Is stands out the most, and Boyd shines throughout the record with exceptional melodies. His string playing is really what gives Dave Matthews Band their unique sound, and it’s noticeable on this record.

Notable tracks on this disc include, Funny the Way It Is, Why I Am, Spaceman, Squirm, and Alligator Pie.

Overall, Big Whisky and the Groogrux King is an exceptional follow up to Stand Up. While the wait between studio albums was extensive, it was also well worth the endurance period. Once again, Dave Matthews Band have given their all in the studio and delivered a well crafted, thought out, polished recording of rock music. This is a record that is certainly worthy of your money and your time, whether you’re a huge fan of the band or not. Dave Matthews Band has delivered a solid, fun, enjoyable record.

Ryo’s Rating: 8.5 (out of 10)

Track List
Shake Me like A Monkey
Funny the Way It Is
Lying In the Hands of God
Why I am
Alligator Pie
Time Bomb
My Baby Blue
You and Me

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