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CD REVIEW: II Big - "Sounds of the Highway"
By David Lockeretz - 08/08/2002 - 10:15 PM EDT

Artist: Band: II Big
Album: Sounds of the Highway
CD Review: Hailing from northern California, II Big delivers up-tempo, entertaining rock songs with a little bit of a country/blues twang. Lead vocalist Aubrey Hansen, who also plays guitar, is solid; his no-nonsense style is a breath of fresh air in an era of divas (male and female) and head cases (again, male and female.) The instrumental work, lead by guitarist Eddy Ottenstein and featuring guests such as saxophonist Brad Ingels and B-3 organist Jack Jacobsen, also delivers. The rhythm section of Tom Hansen on keys, Steve Lamun on bass and Ken Ingels on drums is solid and tasteful.

The tunes are catchy and the grooves are thumping. "That Kind of Neighborhood" has darkly humorous lyrics with a touch of (admittedly heavy handed) social commentary. "Motor City Blues" has that grizzled veteran rail-rider vibe that (for better or worse) has been missing from rock since probably Dylan's salad days.

The main thing holding back this CD is lack of variety. Pretty much all of the songs are roughly the same tempo and many seem to be in the same key. The slow introduction of "Always In Trouble" and the prominent acoustic guitar on "Can't Take It When You Go" stand out, but a good, old-fashioned balls-to-the-wall slow blues jam or a James Taylor-style ballad would have been nice. Even an up-tempo blues shuffle would have provided good variety. Also, at barely over thirty minutes, this disc should have been longer.

Other than that I definitely enjoyed this CD and I'm looking forward to hearing future releases from II Big.

For more information about them, visit www.riverrox.com or call 707-486-0282.


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