Monday, June 21, 2010

Albums2010 #13: Before These Crowded Streets

I don't know if it's true anymore, but when I was an undergraduate, the Dave Matthews Band was so beloved and so listened to by the college population that it was almost a cliche. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's still that way today: certain bands, like Phish, Dave Matthews and OAR- you think of them and you don't think about middle aged peeps getting their groove on, you think about college kids, trying to be cool and wishing they were hipsters- and sometimes think they actually are, despite driving a ridiculous SUV and wearing clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch.

And I'll admit, I indulged in a little love for the Dave Matthews Band back in the day- and with Before These Crowded Streets, it's not hard to see why. This is a good album. Of all their albums, the songs on this album were the ones that got played on the radio the least- at least in my memory. You heard a lot from their first two albums, but not so much from this one. That might be an incorrect impression on my part, but at the same time I think it's sort of nice as well. This was an album that probably belonged body and soul to college radio as a posed to being splayed out across the Top40 mainstream, which makes it probably very familiar to people who were in college back then as well as a new discovery to people just getting acquainted with the Dave Matthews Band.

I'll admit this though: my premise may be totally and utterly flawed- but my impression is that Before These Crowded Streets wasn't played that much on the radio, yet college kids snagged this album and listened to it by the bucketload- myself included.

Best reason to like this album: it knocked the Titanic soundtrack off the top of the charts. (Interesting as well: it's one of just two DMB albums released on vinyl.) Second best reason to like this album: the first half of the album is just beautiful- you don't need to hit skip once. Songs like 'Rapunzel' blend into the Middle-Eastern flavor of 'The Last Stop' and 'Don't Drink The Water.' But it's the fifth track, 'Stay (Wasting Time)' that's probably my favorite. My freshman year in college wasn't necessarily the most cheerful of times for me, personally- and in the mess of trying to figure out what to do with myself (still working on that, HAH!) and trying to figure out college, this was the one song that would always, without fail, cheer me up. So I have some fond memories of the front half of this album, because it certainly helped buoy my moods when things were shitty.

The second half of this album isn't bad, but it's somewhat hard to quantify. Probably the gem of the back half is 'The Dreaming Tree.' Quieter, more subdued, it's an 8 minute composition of quiet beauty that rounds out the album quite nicely, I think.

Overall: This is without a doubt the best of the Dave Matthews Band- and if there was an anthem for college kids in the early 00s, the Dave Matthews Band was the band of choice and this was the album of choice. Everyone had it, everyone listened to it and it's only the sheer quality of this album that saves the Dave Matthews Band from slipping into the realm of 'college-kid' cliche.

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