Recently, mysterious Memphian Harlan T. Bobo released Sucker, his third album. Just like Bobo’s past efforts — 2007’s I’m Your Man and his 2006 debut Too Much Love — Sucker is a damn-near-perfect blend of old-school rock and all the good things that ever came out of the Memphis/Detroit/Chicago trifecta.
Bobo, who coyly calls his genre “garage, apartment rock,” came out of nowhere with Too Much Love, his ode to being dumped. It only took me one listen to see that Too Much Love was basically flawless. Bobo never even intended to release Too Much Love; he wrote it because he had to get some things off his chest. The album is similar in its success to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago — Bobo passed the music around to friends on CD-Rs with handmade artwork. Eventually, everybody in town wanted a copy, and Goner Records picked it up. Wise move.
According to Bobo, “I made [Too Much Love] when I was 35 and people liked it, and I didn’t expect that. So, I continued.” I’m Your Man, his second album, came out in 2007. In the meantime, he wrote string arrangements for Cat Power’s album The Greatest. This year, Bobo put out the short-but-sweet Sucker. Tracks like “Bad Boyfriends” and “Selfish Life” are catchy and introspective, respectively. For many writers, catchy songs can’t be introspective; for Bobo, they’re two sides of the same coin. And for someone who never intended do what he’s doing, he’s damn good at it.
The video above is a live rendition of “Errand Girl,” from Sucker. It was put together by the extremely talented Mike Brown and Alan Spearman for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper. You can buy Sucker on CD at the Goner site or digitally via iTunes. According to Goner, a vinyl edition is coming soon.
MP3: “Pretty Foolish Things” from I’m Your Man (2007)