Mona, Modern Primitives

When: Mon., July 29 2013

MONA Mona seems obsessed with filling big shoes. Impassioned frontman Nick Brown says he wants to be bigger than U2’s Bono, and the Nashville combo aspires to be spiritual descendants of Sun Studio’s legendary Million Dollar Quartet — Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. Mona gets points for lofty goals, but reality fits the band somewhere between the Dixie-styled bombast of Kings of Leon and the unhinged swagger of Rocket from the Crypt. Sporting a leather-jacketed retro look that is less tortured James Dean than rebels-out-of-time, Mona can seem as silly as nifty-’50s revivalists Sha Na Na did in the 1970s, especially when big-mouthed Brown makes puerile pronouncements like, “Mona’s never lost a bar fight.” Such would-be toughness rings false, since Mona’s boy-band good looks paint them as greasers unaware that they’ve been cast in Kenneth Anger’s homoerotic motorcycle flick, Scorpio Rising. Yet when they concentrate less on looks and more on Brown’s gravelly, Joe Strummer-styled shout and dual guitars that intertwine buzzing rhythm with soaring leads, Mona’s big sound deftly combines arena anthems with jittery and reckless rock ‘n’ roll.

Pat Moran

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