II Big, from Mendocino County in Northern California, are back with their fourth album, In A Mendocino Town. The band look and sound like Southern Rockers with some classic rock and country influences thrown in. While the album claims to be "Brand New Classic Rock", it's actually 70's Southern rock re-visited. There's certainly nothing wrong with that and in the current market climate Southern Rock is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, but as I listened to this album I had a hard time finding a sound that I would classify as II Big's. All songs were written by brothers Aubrey and Tom Hansen, who it appears also share the lead vocalist position. One of them sounds like Dickey Betts to a degree and the other like Air Supply, but which is which is hard to say as it wasn't listed. Both were lacking somewhat in that raw edge whiskey soaked voice typical of authentic Southern Rock.
While it is difficult in this genre to escape the influences of the like of Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, or Dickie Betts, on the overall those influences were very obvious here: track 1."If I Can't Be Your #1" was very close to Skynyrd's "What's Your Name". On Track 4. "Mendocino Town" vocalist Aubrey Hansen (?) not only sounded like Dickey Betts but the track sounded like Dickey Betts & Great Southern. Track 5. "Rebel (Going Home)" was Skynyrd meets Air Supply. Track 6. "Howlin At the Moon", a la Confederate Railroad. Track 7. "Two Hearts" a la Atlanta Rhythm Section, and so on and so forth. Perhaps the most notable track was Track 8. "Once Upon A Time", but for the wrong reason, here the riffs and melody were so close to "She's Not There" by The Zombies as to raise a question mark.
Musically the guitar playing, hooks and tones, are very good and the piano playing (Tom Hansen?) is really good. The last track "Hammer Down" seemed to be a taste of what II Big does best. Here although the track was reminiscent of J.B. Walker & The Cheap Whiskey Band you could get an idea of where they probably excel and it was easy to imagine that "live" is probably where these guys kick ass. The CD is enhanced with a short video which gives a peek as to what one could expect from a concert, which is a fun night of good music. As they say on the liner notes: "We're Here For One Reason And One Reason Alone To Share Our Love Of Music". If that is the intent then their mission is accomplished on this album, their love of Southern Rock is obvious.