“GrooGrux” is a term coined to describe a band member’s style and self. The name “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King” is Dave Matthews Band’s tribute to deceased band member LeRoi Moore. The album is full of love and energy and plenty of GrooGrux to go around. It’s their first since 2005 and has definitely not been rushed. It has a slow-cooked quality of thoughtfulness and confidence rarely seen in today’s industry of rapid-fire singles.
This album is definitely not an archive of singles and filler. Having so much success, the band can afford to do as they please, free from the pressures of executives and the need to establish themselves. Each member’s love for their craft becomes apparent though their obvious skill.
There is a balance among the many instruments that is refreshing and interesting. It is not very often there are saxophones, trumpets and banjos on the radio.
Too often, bands are just the backup to the lead vocalist. The band has many solo moments, but do not stop jamming when Matthews starts singing.
Matthews himself is not an amazing singer. However, he does his job well. Like Bruce Springsteen, he puts it all out there and keeps the focus away from his lack of classical skills. Instead what draws the listener in is the overall combination of all the elements together.
Each song is different from the last, and the tempo rarely slows below a head-nodding jam. However, when it does, the calmer moments punctuate the faster ones.
One of the best songs in the album is “Shake Me Like a Monkey.” Right from the get-go, the GrooGrux is there. After a moment of jamming, the song becomes more rock-inspired and guitar-heavy. It has some more traditional elements that make it accessible to even a casual fan, and should be instantly identifiable by any passer-by as Dave Matthews Band.
Another great song is “Alligator Pie.” It is pretty light on lyrical content, but extra heavy on general awesomeness. If you’re still confused about what GrooGrux is, listen to this song. There is banjo, a hint of harmonica and drums to spare.
Overall, it is a very solid album. It is one of the best so far of the year, and for good reason. There is never really any specific unifying theme beyond life, love and happiness, but many moments ring true and sweet.