From our sponsors:
Big Head Todd And The Monsters
w/ Hazel Miller + Ronnie Baker Brooks
March 29, 2014
7 p.m. Doors / 8 p.m. Show | $25 ADV / $27 Doors | 21+
More info: crystalballroompdx.com
1332 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
Big Head Todd and The Monsters’ ninth studio album Rocksteady finds the veteran Colorado band returning to their DIY roots and forging into surprising musical territory.
Funky, lilting, and melodic, Rocksteady features founding members Todd Park Mohr (lead vocals and guitars), Rob Squires (bass), and Brian Nevin (drums), with keyboardist, steel guitarist, and backup vocalist Jeremy Lawton, who joined The Monsters in January 2004. Lawton produced and mixed the album.
Rocksteady cuts across a broad swath of stylistic terrain. “Beautiful,” the set’s first single, offers a sunny Caribbean vibe, as does the band’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” long a concert staple. “Back to the Garden” and the homage “Muhammad Ali” pulse with a roots rock groove, while the set’s title track is based in the like-named, revved-up Jamaican style that preceded reggae’s arrival in the late ‘60s. “I Hate It When You’re Gone,” dressed with a full horn section, is blazing old-school R&B, while a version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” is burning Chicago blues in a Monsters pocket.
“It’s a soul/Caribbean record that rocks,” Mohr says. “We almost went out of our way to take all the rock out of it, but it really rocks. It’s the very first album we’ve ever done that’s this cohesive and focused. That’s what makes it shine and stand out from our other albums.”
Rocksteady is the latest chapter in a rock ‘n’ roll career that stretches back nearly 25 years. Founded in 1986 by Mohr, Squires, and Nevin, then University of Colorado students, Big Head Todd and The Monsters became one of the region’s most popular acts through constant touring. After issuing two popular independent releases on their Big imprint, the band hooked up with Irving Azoff’s Giant Records for the platinum album Sister Sweetly (1993). The Monsters issued four chart albums on Giant and Warner Bros.
Their formidable reputation rests on their stage performances; Big Head Todd and The Monsters Live was recorded on the fabled H.O.R.D.E. tour. Over the years, the group has developed a close relationship with their fans: Their last album, All the Love You Need, was released as a free download, and was snapped up by half a million of The Monsters’ followers.