Saturday, September 20, 2008

Andy Bopp -- This Guitar Kills Singer Songwriters (2008)

Andy Bopp – This Guitar Kills Singer Songwriters (Rainbow Quartz)

The Myracle Brah man and lead Love Nut breaks out his trusty acoustic guitar and leafs through some of the yellowed pages of what is now a rather large songbook to reel off a reliably entertaining set of tunes. This album contains no revelations but serves to confirm what I already knew -- he’s one helluva songwriter.

Well, I suppose there’s one revelation. Okay, revelation is putting it strongly, but "Hello" is a new song. And it sounds like a typical Bopp song. His vocals are strong, the hook is established early, and fans of music that gravitates in The Beatles/Badfinger/early Big Star universe should enjoy this quite a bit.

That universe is a large part of Bopp’s songcraft, though his work with Love Nut showed an affinity for Cheap Trick at times, while Myracle Brah periodically attempted to build on its ‘60s classicism with some moodier sounds. In this acoustic format, pop rules the day. But it’s not overly slick. If anything, the more intimate approach draws more emotions out of these songs, even when the lyrics may seem a bit impenetrable.

Bopp draws most from what may be the two best albums from his past: three songs apiece from Life From Planet Eartsnop and the second Love Nut album, Baltimucho. Knowing a good thing, he opens the album with the lead track from Eartsnop, "Whisper Softly". This is just over two minutes of pop perfection. The rise and fall of the melody is matched by the even greater rise and fall of the melody (I just reread this and I'm trying to figure out what I meant -- I think what I mean is that the chorus has a rise and fall melody and the bridge out of the chorus is similarly structured, but more intense. I think that's what I was referring to).

Bopp also takes on "Just Because", a ballad that has a bit of a John Lennon-ish feel, and my favorite Myracle Brah song of all, "Good Day to the Night". "Night" simply has one of the best power pop choruses I have ever heard. It’s urgent and memorable and Bopp sells it with all he has. This is a song that, even when played without a full band, is intense from the get go and manages never to let up. All without any outrageous tempos or excessive guitar noise.

The winners from Baltimucho sound great too. "Falling Down" and "Miss Fortune" (a song Myracle Brah also recorded) have that "should have been a hit" kind of feel. While the first Love Nut album was alright (and is represented here by "Jane"), Baltimucho was chock full of great songs. One of those was the type of song that should have been played at high school proms everywhere, "If You Go Away".

For a lot of folks, this may have been their introduction to Love Nut, as it was featured on one of the Yellow Pills CD compilations. It’s a plaintive plea to a lover, telling her what life will be like if she splits. It showcases another one of Bopp’s instantly classic melodies. This song is unforgettable from the first play. The original version had a lot of dramatic lead guitar work. While that was swell, Bopp shows that the song is just as great without it.

Bopp also plays numbers from Platespinner and Bleeder, and those hold up as well as the other relatively better known tunes. I suppose the songwriter doing his songs acoustic is now akin to the live album or the all-covers affair -- a stopgap. But if the album is a good listen, who cares? Hearing this, I’d really love to have Bopp come to an intimate venue in Chicago soon.

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