Chickenfoot and the GrooGrux King


With the current members of Van Halen content to tour the reunion circuit and repackage the same batch of hits every few years, I am forced to settle for substitutes when it comes to my old school rock addiction. Enter the self-titled debut from supergroup Chickenfoot. This album is filled with fist-pumping arena rockers, plus a lighter-waving power ballad or two, without even a hint of irony. Guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani provides the monstrous riffs and scorching solos. On the bass we have Michael Anthony, who also brings along the back up vocals that were such an indispensable part of the classic Van Halen sound. Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith keeps each song churning with propulsive rhythm. And at the mike is Sammy Hagar, who unfortunately is also the group's weak link.

Here the Red Rocker writes the same juvenile lyrics he has made a living on his whole career, extolling the virtues of fast cars, pretty girls, and occasionally, riding in a fast car with a pretty girl. Sammy, you are 61 years old—your schtick is starting to get a little creepy. Maybe it's time to broaden your lyrical horizons a bit? Still, this is a good soundtrack for cruising around town on a warm summer night. You might even want to roll the windows down. With any luck the ensuing road noise will drown out the words.

Dave Matthews Band
Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King

After their previous album (Stand Up) was a decidedly mixed bag, it has taken Dave Matthews Band four long years to release a follow-up. The band has put out a new album every 2-3 years like clockwork for most of their career, so such a lengthy recording drought is not something I am accustomed to from them. Was Big Whiskey worth the wait? Find out after the image!

Things start out on a solemn note with "Grux," a mellow LeRoi Moore saxophone ditty recorded shortly before he died last year. Based on this opener, you might think you're in for an introspective tribute, but this moment of mourning is short-lived. The theme of the album (minutely rendered in the hand drawn cover art) is a New Orleans-style funeral parade—more celebratory than somber. The party really gets started with "Shake Me Like a Monkey," an in-your-face tune that wastes little time restoring the swagger that has largely been missing from the band's more recent material. In regards to the main character of this song, always articulate frontman Dave Matthews elaborates, "The guy’s got a top hat on, a big cane, and he’s slapping people. He’s singing this song with his big platform clogs on, silver pants, and a long, black coat. He’s out of his mind—and in this song, he should be."

From here, the album effortlessly bounces from laid back ("Lying in the Hands of God") to energetic ("Why I Am") and heavily groovelicious ("Seven"). DMB will always be known more for their live performances than their work in the studio, but there is an undeniable flow to this batch of songs. So, in answer to my previous question, yes, Big Whiskey was worth the wait. As if my use of the phrase "heavily groovelicious" hadn't already tipped you off.

1 comment:

Krissy said...

Ah, Dave Matthews. He always seems to be on something... But I agree, the album is pretty good and I'm actually hoping we'll hear some of it live in September at Usana.