You can’t spell “dumb” without DMB, but simplicity alone cannot account for the collegiate domination of the Dave Matthews Band. Boston wiseacre Don Lennon thinks their hegemony is inevitable; his new album, Downtown, starts off with a deadpan account of how a clueless but horny undergrad, surrounded by the South African superstar’s music (“It was the crimson on the hilltop/it was the acorns in my hair”), pretends to be a fan so he can stay a little longer in this one girl’s single. Soon he’s converted, and not necessarily because he likes what he hears: “When you own all his albums and you’ve memorized the words/it’s kind of weird to look onstage/and think, ‘Oh my God that’s really Dave.’ ” There’s also a dance number with an ecstatic chorus celebrating Matthews’s ubiquity (“At a microbrewery or a Chili’s bar and grill, Dave comes alive/ . . . on a talk show in New York/at a cook-out in Cape Cod . . . “).
Lennon’s not just into jam bands: There are songs that describe (or at least mention) the 12-foot image of Lenny Kravitz on a Jumbotron in Lisbon, a flyer for a John Sex show, John Cale riding in a car and thinking, Kramer’s doomed relationship with Ann Magnuson, and the Mekons coming to town. Lennon’s singing is as noncommittal as his folksily MOR tunes, but as with most boys, you can tell he really cares about something when he gets petty—especially in “The Boston Music Scene,” which belatedly but ingeniously nails Stephin Merritt’s melodies and meter (and tosses off a few John Woo guitar figures, too). Lennon carps about his peers’ pretentious mix tapes, astronaut costumes, gear obsessions, and bad manners; “You’d better take my advice,” he warns, “just like you’d stick a piece of tape/on every cord and microphone/You better stick one on yourself/before they claim you as their own.” But then, suddenly, he launches into a premature elegy for his favorite bands and clubs, and you tell he really misses the glory days, when music really mattered. Which, for fans like Lennon, could start tomorrow.
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