Jim Boggia — Misadventures in Stereo a rare blessing

I know this is Andy’s territory — tracking power pop masters from album to album and marveling at their almost genius ability to leverage a mind-boggling fluency in the language of pop (from unusual instruments to chord progressions to seminal guitar solos) and then create impossibly layered tracks that directly connect with generations of audio junkies, opening secret doors to our memories and plumbing the innermost chambers of our hearts. I’ve also staked out my own territory on this blog, summed up by: “It’s the song, not the arrangement.” (Aren’t you glad that second sentence was shorter? Whew!)

Boggia's love of pop music is life-long.

Boggia's love of pop is life-long and he puts every ounce of it in his music.

So, imagine my cognitive dissonance when I’m introduced (several years late, it seems) to an artist who not only handles the whole power pop schtick with panache but also crafts gem-like, beautiful songs that would grab your gut if he just showed up at the charmingly grungy coffee house on the corner and started strumming and singing. The artist is Jim Boggia and he’s just released his third album, Misadventures in Stereo.

Go to his MySpace page and you can bring up his tunes now, while you’re reading this. If you have any pop sensibility at all, you’re gonna love it. More importantly, your pop-infused nervous system will be in very good hands. The guy’s a magician but, so far, he’s used his talents only for good — even though this is reported to be his “darkest” album. Hey, it sounds pretty cheerful to me, considering the political quagmire we find ourselves in, the continuing loss of lives in Iraq, and the cruelty we manage in our daily lives, mano a mano and heart to heart. His website, www.jimboggia.com, will give you more perspective — he’s got an interesting story and his lifelong passion for friends, life, and music is evident throughout.

His voice is wide-ranging, strong, and expressive — capable of nuance as well as big emotion. He’s really more like a ventriloquist — sometimes using his own voice but just as often speaking through a guitar, or a piano, or even a glockenspiel. It’s all him. Though an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and a reported wizard in the studio, almost all of the tracks on Misadventures were recorded live to analog tape and then mastered at Abbey Road studios in London. The pedigree of this album is impeccable.

From “Johnnie’s Going Down” (an instant classic) to “To and Fro” (a modern-day love anthem) to “No Way Out” (a drunken rant as disciplined as a classical symphony in its construction) to “So” (as nicely crafted as a Paul Simon character sketch) to “Nothing’s Changed” (add a soaring vocal and you’d swear you were listening to Sara MacLachlan at her best) — the album is more like a treasure chest. And that’s just the first half.

Harking back to a bygone era of vinyl pop, Boggia encourages fans to listen to the new album a “side” at a time. For you youngsters, that means the first half of the songs in order, all in one sitting. And then on to the second half of the songs, in order.

I’ll let you discover “side two” on your own, with one caution: brace yourself for “Three Weeks Shy.” This Iraq War–themed track represents pop music at its highest calling — relevant, gutsy, and full of heart.

Boggia’s songwriting craft, obviously, extends to creating the album experience as well — he creates a whole package. Think Beatles. Think Stevie Wonder. Big influences and big heroes. By the way, on August 19th, Misadventures was also released on vinyl — in MONO, no less.

His confidence with shape and arrangement goes way beyond the anal obsessiveness that sometimes annoys me with modern-day power pop artists. Give the album a good listen and you’ll become a believer, too. Honestly, I could do a blog post for each song on the album, but for now just get the music and listen to it. And, of course, I’d love to hear what you think.

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10 Responses to “Jim Boggia — Misadventures in Stereo a rare blessing”

  1. I’d love to hear the mono mixes… I know the Beatles’ early albums sounded terrific mixed that way (vs the later stereo reissues). This guy intrigues me — I need to check out his last album, which is supposed to be even poppier and more layered! Just my speed.

  2. Whoa! Check out Misadventures first. Safe in Sound (2005) will still be there. And so will Fidelity Is the Enemy (2002).

    Regarding the Mono mixes of the Beatles . . . it’s more of an acquired taste, most effective with those of us raised on AM radio.

  3. Johnny Moondog Says:

    I think this is Boggia’s best recording to date. I like the other two, but this one is solid. The Beatles influence is there, but there are clear nods to Harry Nilsson, The Kinks, Todd Rundgren, Paul Simon and dare I say Sparks (especially To and Fro…listen to it and then pull out the early Sparks stuff and see what I mean).

  4. You got me very curious about Sparks, Johnny.
    Thanks for the comment and the insights.

  5. Jim Boggia’s CD is the only one that’s been playing in my car since August 5th. It’s THAT good. Each song is a masterpiece; and my favorites keep changing, depending on my mood. But “To and Fro”; “No Way Out” “Johnny’s going down” and “Birthday” would be the ones that I’d wear out if I only had the vinyl record to play.

  6. I know what you mean. I think I’ll try to get the album on vinyl. And then I’ll try to get a turntable. And then see if I can hook it up to my stereo . . . That picture of Jim, hunkered down with the 45-RPM record changer sums it all up. Our love affair with music will never be over — especially with musicians like Jim around.

  7. This is such a cool record. Thanks for writing about it. I love.

  8. I’m trying to remember how I heard about Jim’s album . . . There’s so much happening out there, we have to be each others guides. Whatever — this one is a true treasure.

  9. Good blog very interesting content.Music

  10. I’d like to begin my very own blog one day. It was a really nice blog that you simply made here. Continue the success 😛

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