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Dave Matthews Band 

Everyday (RCA)

It was only a matter of time before the Dave Matthews Band made its Big Rock Album. For the past seven years, the jam band has been steadily working its way toward rock radio. Not that Matthews and his quartet of university-schooled multi-instrumentalists haven't penetrated mainstream radio before, but previously they did so without catering to conventions. Violins taking solos where guitars usually grandstand and complex jazz-like song structures are, after all, not exactly on the same wavelength as Britney and her teen parade. Neither is Matthews's primary use of a driving acoustic guitar.

On Everyday, Matthews goes electric. After recording an entire album with longtime producer Steve Lillywhite, the group then scrapped the results to enlist Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette) to produce, co-write, and play keyboards. As a result, Matthews succumbs to the machine. And not just the big, bad industry one. Ballard shoves in whirring, humming, and generally distracting synths whenever he feels a jolt is needed (and considering their regularity, it's quite often). He treats Matthews and band as if they were newcomers, essentially stripping their organic appeal. The album's big ballad, "The Space Between," even sounds like an Aerosmith song (Ballard is a frequent collaborator of the aging rockers). Matthews's attempts to keep things natural are often undermined by the album's environment. Several songs twist and turn through atypical pop patterns, but Everyday sounds unfinished -- or at least hurried. "I just did it for the buzz," Matthews confesses on the single "I Did It." But the only buzz this album generates is the static from plugging in.

More by Michael Gallucci

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