The DMB Album

U2 put out a single no one liked.  Radio rejected it, and so did casual listeners.  Only a small coterie of fans thought it was good.  What was the point?

U2 had an impression that we still live in a monoculture, that everybody’s paying attention to the game.  I GET IT!  You want to do something left field, so you can’t be pigeonholed.  You want to be known for risk-taking.  But who’s paying attention?

Very few.  I know you hate to admit this.  But EVERYBODY’S a niche today.  There are no mass cultural events other than the Super Bowl.  Citizens might like to go to Coachella or Bonnaroo, but most people are just fine missing them.  No one’s lying about attending the first Coachella, most people don’t even know what year it took place.

As for radio and the conventional "Billboard" chart…  You saw that nonexistent lineup for the Rick Ross signing.  Hysteria exists at most in the hearts of your fans, just play to your fans!

I played the new Dave Matthews Band album, "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King".  I won’t say I hated it, but I found it torture to listen to.  It sounded like Dave Matthews, it had all the elements except memorable material.

Then I hit track 7, "Spaceman", and every cut thereafter was really good.


Who did the sequencing?  Who picked the single?

A non-fan who hears "Funny The Way", the track they’re promoting, is going to laugh.  Because it’s everything they hate about the DMB, there’s no risk.  But there’s risk in "Squirm", cut 8, and unlike "Get On Your Boots", it’s not bad.  Someone not enamored of the DMB could hear it and be drawn in.

In other words, what’s the purpose of the single?  To deliver something radio will play that won’t move the public?  Top Forty is for tracks, not credible, career artists.  So, you deliver something "in-your-face", obvious, radio doesn’t play it anyway and everybody but the hard core ignores it.

And if it’s truly about the hard core, how about the cut that’s going to reach them most, the one that will penetrate them and cement their belief?

"Alligator Pie (Cockadile)", cut 8, starts off like the soundtrack of "Deliverance", it’s got no place on terrestrial radio, but it gets your toe tapping more than "Funny The Way".

"Seven", ironically cut 10, has got a lick straight off of "Exile On Main Street".  It twists in between repetition of this riff, but the cut’s got a creativity closer to the Stones opus, something from side 3, than what’s conventionally aired on the radio.  "Seven" is what you play when you’re tanked up and raging, whether in the frat house in the early morning hours or at the gig.

"Time Bomb" has got that magical "Dreaming Tree" quality, like it was cut by a folkie living in a hut deep in the northern territories of Canada.  This is the kind of music that made me a DMB fan.

The quiet feel is replicated in the following, incredibly intimate, "Baby Blue".

In other words, the tracks hitting the conventional DMB notes rubbed me the wrong way.  I know that sound, when the band fires on all cylinders and the crowd erupts.  But that’s about party, fandom comes from the cuts that you play alone, in the middle of the night.

I realize DMB still has a major label contract.

But I think this album should have been an EP.  Four, maybe five tracks at most.  It would have been more digestible.  And I would have focused on the music that REACHES people.  The classic albums oftentimes weren’t successful out of the box, it was only when the collective universe all found out they were listening and united that the anointment took place.

I advocate releasing YOUR BEST track in advance.  Not the one that’s most workable in the media.  Are DMB fans paying attention to mainstream media?

Bono is playing to the grandstand, he needs worldly acclaim.

Dave Matthews is more humble, more understated, and it’s when he makes music befitting his identity that he’s most successful.

Comments are closed