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WHO IS RENO BO?
8/19/15

By Bud Scoppa

Here's an essential addendum to my Top 10 Retro Albums of 2015 post from 7/6.

Peggy and I were driving home from the Arclight Sherman Oaks (where we'd just seen Joe Edgerton's terrific indie film The Gift) when we heard what sounded like a great outtake from Matthew Sweet's 100% Fun on SiriusXM's Mike Marrone-programmed The Loft. The readout ID'd the act as Reno Bo. (Related digression: Earlier this summer I'd first heard "Alone" by The Lodon Souls, who made my retro list, on Spectrum while driving to the same cineplex.)

I was instantly intrigued, and as soon as I got home I Googled "Reno Bo." The way his site described him got me really intrigued.

"Lessons From A Shooting Star is the new album from Nashville-based, New York-born songwriter, musician and producer Reno Bo. 2010 saw the release of and a tour in support of his debut album Happenings and Other Things. Before moving to Nashville, Bo spent the previous several years on the road playing bass with fellow New Yorkers Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes) and The Mooney Suzuki and as leader and songwriter of The Fame (whose name Lady Gaga is rumored to have used as inspiration for her album of the same moniker.) 

"Bo was a middle-school kid living in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a friend gave him The BeatlesWhite Album on CD for Christmas. Bo hadn't listened much to classic rock radio; he was a pop fan, raised on Beach Boys records and the doo-wop songs of his parents' youth. The White Album blew the doors wide open, though, kicking Bo down a classic rock rabbit hole filled with The Rolling StonesSticky Fingers, Big Star's #1 Record and Led Zeppelin I. There was no turning back. 

"Years later, those early influences are on full display with Lessons From a Shooting Star, an album that mixes the hooks and harmonies of classic pop music with the size, sweep and swagger of rock & roll. It's Bo's second solo record, with the multi-instrumentalist handling virtually every job—from the songwriting to the bass guitar to the vocals to the production—himself. For a musician who'd spent the past decade touring the world as a member of other people's bands, Lessons From a Shooting Starwas a chance to focus inward. It was a chance to make music that was completely his."

There's more, but I'd read enough. Then I noticed that the B-side of the single "The Brighter Side," a co-write with power-pop savant Brendan Benson from the album, was "Have You Seen Her Face," a delectable deep track from The Byrds' Younger Than Yesterday. To say the dude totally nailed the vibe of the original would be a massive understatement. To my ears, this is the most knowing Byrds cover since Tom Petty recreated "Feel a Whole Lot Better on Full Moon Fever. And that cut is a great intro to an album that richly deserves to be listened by anyone for whom the reference points above strike a chord.