Not content with making its new album available for free download, Big Head Todd and the Monsters distributed 500,000 free cardboard-case promotional copies of its latest, All The Love You Need, flouting not only the functional obsolescence of the CD format but also the band's own commercial irrelevance. The Boulder, Colorado, group partnered with magazines and radio stations, including Warrensburg's KTBG 90.9 ("The Bridge"), which selected 12,000 area residents to receive the cardboard promotional copies based on demographic data.
Among the recipients were my friend Derek Noll and my mother, Davida Miller, both of whom were prepared to toss the discs in the trash. I persuaded them to give conversion a chance by listening to All the Love You Need in its entirety. The results might leave these saviors of direct-mail disc-marketing brokenhearted.
Name: Davida Miller, age 59
Music creds: Owns three copies of Christmas With Johnny Mathis; listens to the clean version of Eminem's greatest hits
Name: Derek Noll, age 30
Music creds: Former singer for the local punk band Exit/Out; has framed two rare Bad Religion albums
Track 1: "Her Own Kinda Woman": Hard-edged funk blues with wah-wah guitar
Mom: If I heard this song on the radio, I would never say, "Who is that?" I would say, "Turn it off."
Derek: This is pretty much what I expected, but worse. It's like a cruddier Blues Traveler. Also, I hate it when bands spell things that way — "kinda." (Derek, an English teacher, recently appeared on a local newscast lamenting that text-messaging leads students to substitute "2" for "to" in their papers.)
Track 2: "Cruel Fate": Jangly acoustic number with a pronounced country twang
Mom: This is horrible. I'm not trying to be mean — it's a free CD.
Derek: Who likes this band? I guess they have to be sort of successful. I wonder why they decided to send out 500,000 CDs. That must be where the bulk discount starts to kick in.
Track 3: "All The Love You Need": Mellow groove rock with a country chorus
Mom: I like this one, the words, the rhythm and the feel. [Chorus begins.] I wish it would've stayed the way it was. I guess they're just trying to make it, and maybe country-western has a bigger audience. People love that Carrie Underwood.
Derek: [When Todd raps, We wanted success in the area of undress] Some stoner girls would fall for that shit.
Track 6: "Ever Since Ya Pulled Me Under": Seductive funk with a rhythmic delivery
Mom: It's got a beat like a rap. This isn't like the rest of the junk. If you bought the CD thinking it all would sound like this, you'd be bitterly disappointed. It's a little like Jack Johnson.
Derek: This is the best one so far. [Smooth voice] I could make love to this song.
Track 11: "Beautiful Rain": Fast-paced, rowdy bar rock
Derek: This is clearly far better than the last few songs. He's rocking out!
Mom: I don't know why they try so many kinds of music. I guess it's just like, "Look, I can do all this," but they don't do most of it well. This is just terrible. Sorry, Big Head.