Friday, June 05, 2009

Album Review: Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King (5/5)

Dave Matthews Band's seventh album Big Whiskey & the GooGrux King is essentially a tribute to LeRoi Moore, the band's saxophone player who passed away last year during the making of the album. To put it in a nutshell it is among the best (alternative rock) albums I've heard this decade and that's really saying something — Coldplay's, A Rush of Blood to the Head, Snow Patrol's, Eyes Open, The Killers' Hot Fuss and Kings of Leon's, Only By the Night are just a few of the masterpiece's to be released his decade, concerning the alternative rock genre and GooGrux King perfectly settles in with that feat. It's inspired me to put a halt to my countdown of the 100 greatest albums of the decade, if in 2009 albums can still be released worthy of the masterpiece status then I'm just being daft compiling a list now. Unintentional underestimation is a terrible thing.

So what makes GrooGrux King worthy of a 5/5 rating? The general case in all albums, despite the genre is that there's always one or two songs that don't necessarily click or fails to win me over or there's a song that I love but then the virtue of the song withers away after a couple a couple listens — no matter how good the album is overall. GrooGrux King conjures up the perfect recipe for the ideal alternative rock album, as well as acquiring a polished structure for a flawless offering. A solid 13 tracks — built up of a satisfying ratio of uptempo's, mid-tempo's and some pretty compelling ballads.

The album opens very angelically with the 1 minute introduction, "Grux." The song opens with a moment of silence before introducing a gentle saxophone — in tribute to Moore. The sax is smoothly backed by drums broken up throughout. A very mellow start to the album, but thinks pick up swiftly on "Shaking Me Like A Monkey," is a fun, energetic number, a very enjoyable listen and a very lighthearted sense of rock, pacing with the archetypal drums, straining with gushes of electronic guitar with sprinkles of synth. "Funny the Way It Is," is a more tender mid-tempo number, taking a more acoustic route, with the occasional electronic outburst. I also like the melody, especially in the chorus.

"Lying In the Hands of God," is a tender rock ballad, accompanied by some angelic vocal work. Acquiring a rare simplicity that manages to tickle the heart without coming across anemic. Really among my favorites on here, although it's really hard to pick a group of favorites when really every track is a gem. Another ballad is "Dive In," which is just as good — adopting a Snow Patrol at their more subtle moments kinda sound — they sound really good on here. Incorporating distorted strings, drums and violins. "Time Bomb," is pretty much the same gist as, "Drive" and "Lying," with a more angelic flair. Brilliant stuff.

"Why I Am," is cleverly mastered with a sharp contrast of string styled rock and a touch a breezy styled venture. Following is, "Spaceman" which has a unique start-and-stop during the first half of the song, the other half sounds very folkish — banjo and drums are the source of the folkish result. "Squirm," is albums most theatretically dramatic and more rockiest moment, pursuing a thick string of electronic guitars and raging drums.

"Alligator Pie," is a pretty gritty number, another one that sounds pretty folkish. "Seven," incorporates a brilliant drum, string and horn element. The horns are especially effective. "Baby Blue," is a subdued and tender acoustic ballad — reminds me of something from a Snow Patrol or Killers album at their more softer moments.

Putting a close to a truly wonderful album is, "You & Me," is another gentle, acoustic ballad but has a more of an uplifting theme, accompanied by nice raspy vocal.

Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King is an alternative masterpiece, a truly faultless album. I am not much too interested in the lyrical content of the album, but for the most part it does revolve for the most apart about death, but there are also moments where you can moments of love and loss rawly through the music. It also takes some noticeable influence from today's biggest acts in alternative music. This is the second album this year to receive a 5/5 rating from me, following India.Arie's Love & Politics.

Best: Lying In the Hands of God, Shake Me Like A Monkey, Dive In, Seven, Time Bomb


ww_adh said...

I know that since I was in college in America during the mid '90s I'm supposed to love Dave Matthews Band, but they've never done it for me. That said, if you love it this much--and I've read other very positive reviews too--perhaps I should check it out.

J.Mensah said...

weird... DMB really seem like a band you would be into.

Jessie said...

i totally agree! i was just going to review ti on my blog as well. DMB has not had a good album since under the table and dreaming. this one is amazing. good review!