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CD Review: II Big – In A Mendocino Town

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Artist: II Big
Title: In A Mendocino Town
Genre: Rock
Label: Russian River Records
II Big Website

Those big dudes form Northern California are back with a new album. It has been a few years since I heard new music from this talented band. II Big always aims to please and as they say on the CD sleeve- “We’re here for one reason alone, to share our love of music.” Well let me tell you, they do a fine job conveying those feelings on In A Mendocino Town.

They are not doing anything new here; it is the same formula-rock with a southern like flair (think Molly Hatchet) and a solid foundation of classic rock to keep their engines purring straight on through this platter. You know, even though they keep it consistent on every album and do not veer off course, their music still sounds crisp and fresh, just like that northern California morning air coming off the bay. Hey, if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For a band that can keep pumping out the same music album after album, yet continue to satisfy their listeners, well, that is an accomplishment by any standard. I am continually looking for something new and original and this band defies that rule of thumb every time I hear them, even though I know what to expect before I pop the CD in my stereo. I cannot pay a band more respect or compliment them any more than that.

There is some real good old-fashioned kick ass rock on this CD, yes sir. “She’s No Stranger,” “Howlin at the Moon” and “Hammer Down” get some real down n’ dirty lead guitar licks courtesy of Aubrey Hansen and an entire cast of guest musicians. Old reliable Eddy Ottenstein showed up for the sessions again to add his truckload of experience. His six-string weeps with joy when he picks it up and starts playing.

You can tell that this band is from wine country, they are getting better with age. This is their best outing yet. I hope a live album is coming from them soon, just so I can feel the energy of the crowd responding to their sound. You get the next best thing on this CD – they have a montage of their songs from live performances on a video for you to check out. It is just a little taste, just enough to keep you coming back for more, so you will anticipate the next CD. They may look like a bunch of bikers and cowboys but they are just as smart as all the suits that cross the Golden Gate Bridge every morning to go work for corporate America.

Their timing is perfect, its summertime, and time to roll those windows down and blast the tunes. The men in the band may be II Big but their sound is just right for everyone.

© Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

July 16, 2005

01. If I Can’t Be Your # 1 (4:37)
02. If Mama Don’t Like It (4:00)
03. She’s No Stranger (3:54)
04. Mendocino Town (3:49)
05. Rebel (Going Home) (3:48)
06. Howlin at the Moon (3:38)
07. Two Hearts (3:16)
08. Once Upon a Time (3:08)
09. Crossroads to Hell (3:56)
10. Duby’s Song (2:49)
11. There Came an Angel (4:19)
12. Hammer Down (3:10)

Rating-8.5/10

II Big Is:

Aubrey Hansen-Lead guitar, lead vocals
Tom Hansen-Keyboards, lead vocals, guitar
Vince Knight-rhythm guitar, backup vocals
Steve Lamun-Bass
Ken Ingels-Drums, percussion

Edit: LM

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