Unfortunate for those that despise hearing anything to do with Dave Matthews Band and his musical duffle of summer-time fun, but a new DMB album seems to always hit around #1 on the charts – such as the case here with this latest effort – Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King.
This time around the bands produces a more somber but heavier theme – a tribute to saxophonist Leroi Moore who tragically passed away late last summer. The album begins and ends with his jazzy playing – signaling his contributions to the album and to his last fallen notes. With or without Moore, there is still the same Dave Matthews Band style present, but with a more polished touch from “Funny The Way It Is” and “Why I Am” with the later sounding like a No Doubt B-Side with its pulsing vibrato. While earlier material effortlessly laid obvious blue prints for jam vehicles or epic set fillers, Grux Grux remains song oriented in a Best Buy way– easy for the everyday consumer to get.
Although the notoriously quiet Moore would probably have no direct lead to the sound of this effort, the production of Rob Cavallo is carefully noticed. The sleepy “Lying In The Hands of God” and “Dive In” are typical late night drive with the girlfriend stuff that will make for good material if you can’t get to second base anymore with “Satellite” or “Crash.” But if the soft stuff aren’t your cup of Dave, than skip the albums closing mush bag of “Baby Blue” and “You And Me.”
Better material is reserved for “Spaceman” which features more groovy acoustic guitar interplay between Matthews and his band and signals a song that can stand the test of time in the live show panorama, as does “Squirm” with its slow horn buildups, beg only for a light show to pipe in. Edgy electric guitar (Tim Reynolds) is found in “Seven” alongside a coy falsetto from Matthews and fitting introspection is laid in “Time Bomb” where the front man pleads soulfully in this call of picking up the pieces. GrooGrux King won’t convert the anti-Dave, but it will stand up in the live catalog long after the grounders of Everyday and Standup, as one of DMB’s better studio moments.