Two sides: For every fan, there's a nay-sayer

For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. In Charlottesville, there are two definite reactions to the success of the local Dave Matthews Band.

On the one hand, there are those who love/adore/admire/respect what Dave has done musically and for the community. But for every person on that side of the argument, I've met another who grimaces in disgust at the very mention of the band's name.

It's natural. You can't win them all, and you very well might die trying.

Last week the Dave Matthews Band released a new studio album, Stand Up. With this effort it looks as if they've found a way to keep their name on people's lips for a long time to come. All the anti-Dave types may just want to start packing their bags and looking for another 'ville to live in.

Personally, I haven't bought a DMB album since Before These Crowded Streets. That album was absolute genius, the climax of an amazing run of albums and tours that solidified the group in the minds of both fans and critics.

After that, things (specifically, Everyday) went a bit downhill. Well, maybe not downhill– let's just say the album seemed sterile. Previously the band oozed soul and passion, but on that record those elements were sorely missed (save for a few magical moments).

Stand Up reeks of passion and inspiration. The first five tracks are huge and gripping, with big, big, big drums, catchy riffs, and sing-a-long vocals. Two of the tracks are singles, and a third is the title track ("American Baby," "Dreamgirl," "Stand Up"). It's a pretty explosive introduction, figuratively and literally: fireworks explode in the background of "American Baby."

After the first third of the album, things slow a bit, but not much. "Smooth Rider" is a transition track into "Wake Up," a song I personally don't jive with, but I could never deny its musicality and the band's musicianship. Let's just say I have a profound respect for the skill evident in this disc.

As the album progresses, the depth of the band becomes more apparent. The ballads are stronger, the grooves get darker and grittier, the song arrangements more unpredictable. Much of this is because of the influence of producer Mark Batson on all but two of the songs. He seems to have turned the band on its head and has shaken something different and fresh out of the boys.

Batson's background in hip-hop leads him to focus on the drums and on creating loop-able moments of the band's jams and noodling sessions. This works because the guys in the DMB are some of the best musicians around, hands down. Carter Beauford is a drummer's drummer. With him driving the train on Stand Up, the band can't go wrong. Everything else falls into place.

For those with an equal and opposite reaction to mine, there will be more to join your ranks, but only because after Stand Up, there will be a new or born-again fan popping up for every one of you.

Stand Up