If you miss the delectable power pop sounds of the Sixties and the complex melodic structure of the Beatles, you'll want to check out the Philadelphia music scene's beloved adopted son, Jim Boggia.
Like Alex Chilton, he's one of those cult figures, the kind we can't figure out why he's not a major star. If Paul McCartney married Brian Wilson, they might have given birth to Boggia. He writes gorgeous, hook-y songs that stay with you and his musical chops are impeccable, strong enough to get him guest spots with Will Lee's Fab Faux, the celebrity-studded Beatles tribute band.
I guess they can't figure out a marketing niche for him. (Psst, record executives: a funny, hipper Michael Buble with a guitar -- and better songs.)
To call Jim Boggia's Misadventures in Stereo a smashing power-pop success almost seems like damning it with faint praise; that is, if you think the term “power pop” only encompasses a stylistic breadth that starts with the Raspberries and ends with the Romantics. However, if your definition extends instead to the somewhat more singer-songwriterly realms of Aimee Mann, Michael Penn, Matthew Sweet, et al, it may start to make more sense. Especially when you discover that Boggia's last album featured contributions from L.A. pop cult-hero Emitt Rhodes and Mann herself.
The Philadelphia-based artist's third album makes no bones about its influences; “Listening to NRBQ” not only lives up to its title but even goes so far as to feature the Q's erstwhile leader, Big Al Anderson, on guitar. Elsewhere, echoes of the Beach Boys and Beatles abound. That said, Boggia is much more than simply the sum of his inspirations. His unerring melodic sensibilities canter in intriguing, unexpected directions through settings that match a musical sophisticate's knowledge of harmony with a pure popster's knack for gut-targeted hooks.
His voice doesn't do the material any harm, either; Boggia's possessed of a smooth, airy tenor that's shot through with soulfulness, enabling him to glide gracefully atop an elegantly arcing melody or deliver a visceral punch on one of the album's more rocking tracks. Misadventures in Stereo proves that its possible to pack a sharp pop bite and go deep into troubadour territory with surprising simultaneity.
There's no such thing as a bad Boggia album. They're collections of marvelous songs instead of two hits sandwiched into a bunch of filler. And he's a great live act, too.