by Big Head Todd & the Monsters
3.7 4


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For a while there, it seemed like every town had a band like Big Head Todd & the Monsters -- and, if you live in a college town, you probably still have at least one that does. They're a roots band in the post-R.E.M. age, turning out serious, melodic, lightly jangly guitar rock that's very earnest and straight-ahead. At the height of alt-rock, they were on the cusp of success, but they pushed too hard -- hard enough that they wound up compromising their sound without the commercial rewards. This happened on two successive efforts, and they eventually retreated for a long, long time, taking five years between studio records before reappearing in 2002 with Riviera. This is a modest affair, never pushing too hard toward radio or to their jam roots. Frankly, after two deliberately calculated albums, the return to their simple roots is welcome, especially since they've cut away all excessive tendencies and made a clean, rather melodic, enjoyable record. There is no "Bittersweet" -- and even if there were one, it probably wouldn't get them radio play in 2002 -- but the songs are all sturdy, whether they're rockers (like the first-rate opener "Julianna"), or contemplative ballads, and they resonate because the group no longer is swinging for the bleachers, they're simply playing the game the best they know how. And, by doing so, they've wound up with their best record in nearly a decade.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/26/2002
Label: Warner Bros / Wea
UPC: 0093624826620
catalogNumber: 48266
Rank: 144097

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Riviera 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Juliana is great but there is a severe drop off after that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must admit, I approached this album cautiously. I have always been impressed by the musical and lyrical abilities of this band, but some of their albums have been ''track 2, track 8'' offerings. This one is different. Their in-studio performance here in Minneapolis made me give them another chance. The disc is filled with great songs with the signature guitar sound and ''big head'' lyrics. The percussion punctuates the soul-filled songs, and the production is keen. Julianna is NOT the only only good tune. If you have skipped other BHTM albums, this is the one to draw you back in.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Best BHTM since Sister Sweetly
Guest More than 1 year ago
After a 4 year hiatis w/ no studio efforts, BHTM returns w/ arguably their best output since Midnight Radio. It is refreshing to see and hear a band that is still viable, creating great music, playing for their fans and most of all having fun. I just read that Riviera has sold 70,000 copies which for an independent is awesome. They will make more money than on Beautiful World which sold almost 500,000 copies. Way to go boys.