Written by: Mister Substitute
It’s 2023 and that band that your crusty roommate would play while trying to score with half of Nu Kappa Sigma just came out with a new album. Dave Matthews Band released their latest album since 2018 in Walk Around The Moon, a catch-all of music that feels equally familiar and new in tone but keeps that weird Dave-ism in lyric. Yes, Boyd is out after his sexual harrassment suit and they brought on some Herbie Hancock wannabe, but that guy that plays two saxophones at the same time for God-only-knows why is still in the band (I think). But much like Dave’s hairline, the band’s brilliance seems to be receding.
Look, don’t get me wrong: I have been a long-time so-called “Friend of Dave.” I remember vividly the first time hearing Everyday in my uncle’s green GMC Sierra sitting on my cousin’s lap driving out to ride dirtbikes where we got to ride in the bed of the truck on the way back but we had to lay down so no one would see us. Every time we heard the bari sax and guitar call and return in “So Right” my cousin with Downs would laugh his head off. And how could I forget ripping off the plastic of my copy of Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King and listening to it while driving up to see them live with my high school English teacher? I have all of their live shows on my Zune conveniently still connected and on my bedside table. I am well-versed in Dave-speak. I’ve seen them enough times that I can’t recall the exact amount of times.
While writing this, I had to verify something and so I listened to these DMB albums I grew up and loved, a sort of Litmus test to see if the Dave was still enjoyable and that I hadn’t moved on entirely from this 11-piece band of middle-age dads. “So Right” is still an absolute triumph. The lyrics to “Shake Me Like A Monkey” were still filed away. “Stolen Away on 55th & 3rd” still made me feel like it did when I first heard it.
And then there’s this new album. I remember seeing something on Twitter about DMB releasing an album yesterday (5/19) and naturally I had to check it out. 5 years since their last studio album and mostly written during the pandemic, Walk Around the Moon had this weird feeling to it, like I had heard each song before but somehow it was worse. The way almost every song started had me saying to myself “Hey that sounds exactly like… oh wait nevermind.” And like all of DMB’s albums before, Walk Around the Moon carried a recurring theme throughout: I’m old and we should all just love each other. Being the Friend of Dave that I am, I gave this album an honest shot, even a second shot. Then, midway through the second listen, I was so curious to find out if I had actually grown out of my Dave Matthews Band days, or if this album was just doodoo buckets.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), the latter is most likely true. Will I still listen to it, probably. Will I have to listen to all the other DMB that I love in order to get a better taste in my mouth, most definitely. Still, I feel my Days of Dave are slowly dwindling, I wonder if I will move on to Phish or Grateful Dead.