Author: Andrew Zrike
Since forming in 1986, Big Head Todd and the Monsters have been rocking the United States from coast to coast with their addictive blend of straight forward rock.
The band's first two releases, Another Mayberry and Midnight Radio, were self released on the band's own Big Records, and were marked by a delightfully raw and underproduced sound.
The popularity of these albums, in addition to the band's reputation as a tight and energetic live act, helped the band to quickly earn itself thousands of fans, first in the band's native Colorado and then slowly moving across the country.
The buzz surrounding these early releases helped to earn the band a record deal with Giant Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers.
While on Giant records, the band released Sister Sweetly, a platinum-selling record that generated the top five rock tracks "Bittersweet" and "Broken Hearted Savior," in addition to "Strategem" and "Beautiful World" in subsequent years.
After not recording a studio album in over four years, Big Head Todd and the Monsters are back with another solid record that explores some new sounds and textures without straying to far away from the band's trademark sound.
The album has been in production for over three years, partly due to the fact that the band's label wanted to package the band as the next Matchbox Twenty and partly because the label folded last year.
The demise of Giant Records was a blessing in disguise.
It enabled Big Head Todd and the Monsters to release the album that they thought best represented their development as a unit rather than the record that the label thought would earn the most money.
Like their original two releases, Riviera is a refreshingly underproduced album and marks the band's return to their original label Big Records.
Riviera begins with the highly addictive "Juliana," which begins with a driving mixture of guitar, bass and drums.
Mohr's highly distinctive voice quickly comes in and establishes the yearning mood of the song. Mohr has one of those emotional voices with a raw integrity that makes the listener believe everything he has to say.
He sings, by the sound of things, from the heart, so when he sings in the song's chorus "Juliana why won't you believe ... I'd be the lover you want me to be," you instantly believe him.
The rest of the album is entertaining, making quick jumps back and forth from more rocking tracks to songs that are highlighted by Mohr's emotional lyrics and voice rather than the power of his guitar. "Hysteria" is one of these tracks.
It begins with some nice acoustic strumming and some excitingly free bass playing. Mohr's voice is allowed to be the highlight of the song, and as the music builds, it all comes to a climax with each chorus.
The album's single "Wishing Well" is not the standout track that one usually associates with a big release.
Still, the track is a solid song that is highlighted by a strong and well-harmonized chorus.
Big Head Todd and the Monsters recently embarked on their first major tour in several years, a surprise since the band has earned its popularity in part from it's incendiary live shows.
Evident in part by numerous sold out shows — including tomorrow night's performance in Boston — the band's popularity has not waned in its time out of the public eye.
Be sure to look for the band across the country during the next year and definitely try to catch them when they come to your area this summer.
For those of you who will be in the area, try to catch them when they return to Vermont to play the Ben and Jerry's One World One Heart Fest on June 22 at Sugar Bush with Colorado buddies The Samples.
The show promises to be well worth the drive.
Big Head Todd Keeps On Rocking with 'Riviera'
Author: Andrew Zrike