Monthly Archives: May 2015

Album Review: Recently


When a band is first starting out it isn’t uncommon for them to re-release certain songs across multiple releases. This is true of the title track on Dave Matthews Band’s second release, “Recently”.

This EP is another series of live recordings, these ones all done in the bands home state of Virginia. The title track, is a reedit of the same song that was released 6 months earlier on the bands debut, “Remember Two Things”.

Back when we all still relied on physical copies of discs to play our music, “Recently” was one of the few albums that my friend Nate had on the job site, so it was played often. Those CDs were played so frequently that they were literally ‘played to death’, and often had to be replaced. I’m pretty sure that “Recently” may have been repurchased a few times over the course of those jobs… (Luckily, soon after, we discovered the CD-R!)

One of the tracks on the EP is a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, which was made famous by both him and Jimi Hendricks. I’ll accept any flaming that y’all have to offer when I say that I like DMB’s version better by a mile. From the slowed down intro verse, to the final crescendo, it’s a much more layered song than either Dylan’s or Hendricks’s. It’s actually one of the tracks that got my friend Nate hooked on the band.

The second and third songs on the album are again acoustic Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds songs, another sneak peak of the official Dave and Tim live releases that have put an awesome stripped down flavor on the catalogue. Also, on this EP is the first official release of what is my personal favorite DMB song, Halloween. Halloween is a fairly atypical DMB song. It’s very guttural, dark, and full of angst. It was written about one of Dave’s ex-girlfriends, who he had repeatedly asked to marry him, but she kept refusing. Halloween was written as the middle finger to her face.

Since the first DMB show that I went to in 2005, I’ve gone to multiple shows every year since, except for the year the band took off from touring. In all those shows it wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that I finally was at a show where they played Halloween. Once I realized what they were playing, it all came right back to hearing it for the first time while 25′ in the air on a ladder painting the trim boards on a house in rural Western Massachusetts. While I will probably deny it, my friend Tif who was at that show with me says I screamed like a girl at a Taylor Swift concert.

The importance of the “Recently” EP in the band’s discography cannot be denied, as it led to the record deal that helped catapult the Dave Matthews Band in to the public’s eye, which in turn was the stepping stone for launching a successful multi-decade long career.

Remember Two Things


I actually remember the first time I ever heard Remember Two Things. It was the summer of 2005, and I had just gotten home from Saratoga Springs, NY after going to my very first Dave Matthews Band concert.
Before that day, I had been a fan, but more of a casual fan. I had heard all the studio albums and a few live ones that had been released up to that point countless times, with the exception of Remember Two Things. I remember thinking of the album as just a demo, being that a number of the songs were re-released on subsequent albums (it wasn’t much later in life that I learned an appreciation for demos).
When the band started playing that evening at SPAC, they opened with a song I didn’t recognize, but everyone else seemed to know. In the pre-smartphone era, there wasn’t a way to Google on the go, so I took a mental note and when I got home I did an internet search.
It turned out the song was “One Sweet World”, and the very next day I was at our local record store buying a copy of Remember Two Things.
The album cover has an autostereogram image on it, which all through growing up I had never been able to see. (Autostereograms are those ‘Magic Eye’ 3D pictures that were really popular in the 90’s.) I spent hours going cross-eyed before I was finally able to see the hidden image. I won’t spoil it for you in case you haven’t seen it yourself yet, but trust me, it’s there.
   Remember Two Things was released on November 9, 1993 on the bands own label, Bama Rags. In 1997, after the band made it pretty big, their major label, RCA Records, re-released the album, helping it go platinum in 2002.
The 2014 re-re-release of the album has four different sections. The first six tracks are full band live recordings that were taped at two separate venues in Virginia and one in Massachusetts. The next two tracks are full band studio recordings, recorded at Flat Five Studios, in Salem, VA. Then there are two more live recordings, but are done acoustically, with just Dave Matthews on rhythm guitar and vocals, and long time friend and collaborator Tim Reynolds on lead guitar. Finally, there are two bonus tracks, early studio recordings of two tracks that would be reworked a bit and released on the debut studio album, Under the Table and Dreaming.
One of the things that had always struck me about this album is the quality of the live recordings. Remember, these were recorded at small venues, in the early 90’s (pre-digital era). Yet the instrument levels don’t wash out the vocals, the ambient and crowd noises don’t thunder over the band… It’s an high standard set right from the get go for the live official releases from DMB.
One of the other things that really stands out to me is the palpable energy given by each band member. You really get a sense of the youth that the band possessed when this was recorded.
More than twenty years later, these songs have all developed their own unique flavor that only time and experience can bring. Listening to these songs in their early incarnations, slightly simpler and stripped down versions, gives a look into the innate talents that each member of DMB possessed from the start, and gives you a baseline with which to view the musical progress of the band from then until now.

Finding Originality In Unoriginality


The Summer of Sequels

Spring 2015 is in full swing! With that comes a clear view of which direction the captains of Hollywood are steering their studios for the summer. Yet again, it seems to be that the soup of the day is sequels, reboots, and recycles. The amount of original material vying to be the next summer blockbuster pales in comparison to the number of continuations and remakes that are in the coffers.

Not that I’m really complaining. There’s a number of them that I am really looking forward to this summer. The way I see it though, each of these movies has a few obstacles to overcome if they want to hold their own. A few off my list are below:

Avengers: Age of Ultron

(Marvel/Disney)-May 1st

We already know the plot: Our favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes team up to defeat the bad guys, whilst setting up the scene for our next foray into superheroland. I’ve always been a sucker for superhero movies, and ever since 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel has been on fire, pumping out blockbuster after blockbuster. It seems that there’s been a trend for each new release to have to top its predecessors, both in the terms of action and destruction, as well as character crossovers. The other night I rewatched the first Avengers to catch back up before Ultron and I had to press pause and read a refresher on who did what and where and in which movie, because in my head it was all a run on montage of action and explosions. I think there in lies the danger for both Avengers 2 and the rest of the upcoming Marvel films; they run the risk of audiences becoming bored with more of the same. Although, the rumors that I’ve been hearing about Captain America: Civil War give me hope that Marvel is going to be getting back to some more story driven plots.

Jurassic World


(Universal)-June 12th

This is the movie that I want to be excited the most about this summer (and it probably is!), but I have major reservations. The original Jurassic Park was probably one of the most memorable movies of my childhood. If I’m being honest here, it was my love for that first trip to the Park that made me convince myself that I enjoyed the two sequels. Now, 22 years later, the carrot is being dangled again. I just read that Jurassic World is considered a direct sequel to the original film, ignoring the events of 2 & 3. There was another article that had a quote from Spielberg himself, saying that he is happy with the direction that this new film takes the franchise. I also read that this film’s director grew up with the same love for the original film as I did. But, I’ve already been lied to twice, so my expectations are low. That said, I’ll be in the theater opening weekend.

Ted 2


(Universal)-June 26th

Comedy sequels have a notoriously hard time living up to their predecessors. They tend to fall into the pattern of recycling the same jokes from the first movie so that through the power of familiarity, not humor, they can weasel a few more dollars out of your wallet. Now, I’m a huge fan of the stupid, irreverent, and crass humor that is Seth MacFarlane, but he is notorious for beating a dead horse. The first Ted wrapped all the storylines up pretty tightly, but the trailers for Ted 2 seem to dole out at least a passable reason why we are revisiting the characters. If MacFarlane can find a way to not rehash his first film, then this could be one of the rare comedy sequels worth seeing.

Terminator: Genisys


(Paramount)-July 1st

The last two Terminator movies have lacked a key element that was a driving force in the first two: suspense. T3 played off as a straight action movie, and Terminator: Salvation was heavier on the drama then it had to be. It seems, from the trailers at least, that Genisys is shooting for the in-your-face, heavy action, summer thrill ride of a movie, instead of the paced, suspenseful action that started it all. I hope they get their formula right this time, but if not, they can always send back another machine from the future and reset the timeline, yet again.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation


(Paramount)-July 31st

If you pretend that MI:2 never happened, then you have a solid series that has been running strong with the same lead actor for nearly 20 years. Tom Cruise, love him or hate him, has made the role of IMF Agent Ethan Hunt his own, and his commitment to the role is one of the things that make the series one of the more enjoyable in the genera. I think the fact that there has been a different director for each film has helped maintain its freshness, even after all these years. Tom Cruise wanting to do a lot of his own stunts definitely adds to the flavor as well. As long as the writers stay away from the camp and ridiculousness that plagued the 2nd installment, I will always look forward to a new Mission: Impossible flick.

The Fantastic Four


(20th Century Fox)-August 7th

It’s a morbid curiosity that fuels my desire to see this movie. The Fantastic Four is one of the Marvel properties that they sold the movie rights to back before Disney bought the company and turned Marvel’s movie studio in to a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s been only 10 years since Fox, who had bought the rights, released their oft panned first Fantastic Four movie. It would now seem that Fox is trying to grasp at straws the way Sony did with Spider-man. Add into that drama the personal and professional issues of the films director Josh Trank, and this is set up to be a train wreck that I don’t want to miss, when it hits Netflix, of course.

The Transporter: Refueled


(Europa)-September 4th

I recently read that Jason Statham turned down reprising his role in this series because they offered him a 3 picture deal for the same money as only one of the previous films in the series. Again, I have super mixed feelings on that. The first Transporter movie was phenomenal. From there, there was a sharp nosedive into mediocrity. Casting another actor as Frank Martin seems a bit odd, but it works for James Bond, so I guess anything is possible. This is another series that would do well to go back to its roots. The first film had a less is more feel to it that set it apart from other movies in it’s category. Hopefully they bring the story back to basics, or this movie could wind up on a rack at the dollar store very quickly.