Saturday, July 04, 2009

Album Review: Dave Matthews Band - Stand Up (2005, 4.5/5)

After being completely enticed by Dave Matthews Band's seventh album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, I decided to check out some of their previous releases. Their sixth album, Stand Up, was a commercial success for the band, but it wasn't that well received. DMB teamed up with Mark Batson, who had produced hits for the likes of Beyonce, Joe and India.Arie -- and with DMB's alternative edge; it seemed that many fans and critics thought it was softened on this album. Big Whiskey, is indeed the Superior effort, but, Stand Up was a crossroads of their archetypal heavy alternative rock and more softer rock.

The acoustic styled opener "Dreamgirl" backed itself nicely with strings, drum and piano, it's a really pleasing opener. "Old Dirt Hill (Bring the Beat Back" follows up well as a nostalgic reminiscent about first love, the lyric ("the first time I kissed you, I lost my legs") is really cute. The album picks up a more funky endeavor on the title track "Stand Up (For It)" incorporating some brassy horns and a more funked up styled guitar. Very 70's throwback now that I think about it.

The album takes a Coldplay-ish venture on "American Baby (Intro)" before emerging into the main course "American Baby" this was the only hit spawned from the album, peaking at #16 on the US chart; and the band's first top 20. The more grand piano based "Smooth Rider" is the albums first (non-traditional) ballad, brimming with lushes of funk -- it does carry some swagger -- I guess you could tell from the title. The breezy "Everybody Wake Up (Our Finest Hour Arrives)" is a fantastic track, it reminds me of the stuff on the Kings of Leon, Only By the Night album, of course this was done prior. Backing nicely with a distorted guitar just carelessly running through the song, also joining are some country-ish, twangy strings.

The heavily piano based "Out of My Hands" is another favorite -- I love the progression in the song, the drums start out vaguely faint before showing itself to the ears more reaching into the grittier parts of the song. Taking some influences from Rascal Flatts, "Hello Again" probably shows the most country presence on the album -- it's also probably one of few tracks that have yet to win me over. The lighthearted "Louisana Bayou" finds a faint showing of their rap-singing venture, I'm not too fond of this one either.

"Stolen Away On 55th and 3rd" probably carries the best melody on the album -- it's definitely the best acoustic styled, backed sweetly by Dave Matthew's frail but compelling vocal. The percussion soaked "You Might Die Trying" kinda seems like a lazy attempt to lengthen the album or to fake essenticity, but I do love it anyway.

"Steady as We Go" is the albums only traditional ballad, it's not bad. Closing the album is upbeat "Hunger for the Great Light" which is another personal favorite.

I still have a couple more of their albums to check out, there's at least 4 or 5 I've got my eyes set on. Dave Matthews Band are officially my alternative favorite band, bumping Kings of Leon, Buckcherry, Coldplay, The Killers and Snow Patrol down a notch. Although it's not perfect like, Big Whiskey, it's still a good album--when the more lackluster tracks are put aside, and there aren't that many.

Best: Everybody Wake Up (Our Finest Hour Arrives), Old Dirt Hill, Dreamgirl, American Baby, Stolen AwayOn 55th and 3rd, Out of My Hands, Smooth Rider

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