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Album Review

Don’t be threatened by the cover of Howlin’ Wolf's “Smokestack Lightning” on Rocksteady: Big Head Todd & the Monsters have not abandoned their laid-back roots rock and gone all dirty blues, they’re continuing to take things nice and easy. To put too fine a point on it, their rock remains steady, offering few surprises, but their light touch is often ingratiating. Sure, when they stretch they can stumble slightly — it’s unclear what the intent of “Muhammad Ali” is, the reggae-influenced numbers smack too much of a dorm room singalong, and every once and a while a ballad drags — but they have a way with rootsy midtempo pop, like the sweet “Beautiful,” they’re served well by the soulful horn of “I Hate It When You’re Gone,” they do an admirable, pleading version of “Beast of Burden” and, yes, the dose of heavier blues on “Smokestack Lightning” serves them well enough to suggest that they should let a little more grit into their smooth surroundings next time around.

Biography

Formed: 1986 in Boulder, CO

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

During the late '80s and early '90s, Big Head Todd & the Monsters (the Colorado-based trio of guitarist/keyboard player Todd Park Mohr, bassist Rob Squires, and drummer Brian Nevin) built their audience through constant touring, playing college towns across the country. With these tours, they built a solid fan base before they had even signed to a major label. Although they released a number of records, they weren't quite able to transfer the live appeal of their laid-back, slightly jazzy blues-based...
Full bio

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