Bozmo // Leather Umbrella
Peaking Pear Records
Recommended Track: Wig Strut
Upon reading the name Bozmo for the first time, I couldn’t help but laugh like mad. A name like Bozmo immediately invokes the image of circus clowns, genies and other strange creatures. A glance over the Lennon-esque character sheltered beneath a floating, oversized umbrella on the cover of this new album confirmed my usual suspicions. What kind of psychedelic nonsense was I in for this time? As it turns out, Bozmo’s latest release Leather Umbrella, the effort of Berkeley man Bo Moore, is actually a pretty fitting name for a musical act that combines the essence of the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Turtles and other flower power groups with a layer of dirty and fuzzy lo-fi rock. Let us enter the musical realm of Bozmo.
Leather Umbrella opens up with the instrumental track “Sad Bishop”, featuring some tape warping, a distant flute and undecipherable reversed vocals. It’s as if this opening track is the portal through which we arrive at the crazed planet Bozmo, somewhere on the fringes of Bozmo space. The album namesake “Leather Umbrella” is the amusing and whimsical tale of a vain man who acquires a fancy dancy leather umbrella. But the love of his life isn’t at all impressed. “This is why you’re lonely, why you’re a nobody!” she curses. Complete with claps and a harpsichord in the closing minute, “Leather Umbrella” sounds like a Ray Davies ditty straight from The Village Green Preservation Society. “Wig Strut”, with its heaving strumming and soft drumming shows off the lyrical potential of Bozmo, takes the cliched theme of a mysterious and exotic lover and turning it into something strangely poetic.
Unfortunately, the album begins to lose attractiveness and appeal as a unique psych pop endeavor. “Open Wide” features the more heavier side of Bozmo, but aside from a gnarly distorted guitar solo, the track comes off as fairly generic and seems misplaced on the album. This trend continues through the peculiar yet sleepy track “In A Dream”, indie rock ballad “Cheap Blue Memory”, and “Leather Umbrella” rehash-with-a-vest “Perry and the Vest”. The end of the album makes a return to the original psychedelic theme with “Nervous Intellectuals”, a cleverly written observation of those cursed with social awkwardness. “Have a piece of pie, without all the critiquing,” Bo Moore sings. Wait, is this song directed at me? Moore speaks from the heart on the melancholy acoustic lullaby “Chapel of Peace”, leading towards the album finale with the spooky and sinister “Pink Winter”, and chaotic instrumental “Minor Bishop”.
While Leather Umbrella fails to maintain overall cohesion, Bozmo has presented an album worth trying. I’ve since returned to Earth from Bozmo, a process called Bozmosis, and am generally pleased with my adventure. Leather Umbrella, mostly recorded in San Francisco, has been released on cassette via Peaking Pear Records so that you too can experience Bozmo.