Post-Weezer Power Pop Hits The Spot

They say that nice guys always finish last -- with their new album, Now Playing, Jason Cropper and his band Chopper One are setting out to prove them wrong.

In case you're one of the few who hasn't already heard the sad story, Cropper was one of the original four members of Weezer. His departure from the band was prompted by his girlfriend Amy's pregnancy and preceded the release of the band's self-titled debut Weezer by just a few months.

Weezer met with massive success, rocketing the band members to stardom -- with new guitarist Brian Bell in the spot Cropper had vacated. Cropper, not wanting to be a dead-beat dad, stayed at home with Amy, now his wife, and their newborn baby girl.

However heart-wrenching missing out on the "Weezer experience" might have been, Cropper regained his footing and without looking back, formed Chopper One, a three-piece consisting of himself on guitar and vocals, his wife Amy Cropper on bass and vocals and drummer Tyrone Rio.

With Chopper One, Cropper is finally getting his day in the sun. He co-wrote all the songs on the album with Amy, and together they deliver 14 tracks of fuzzed-out, fun-filled, pop rock. Following the Weezer recipe for success, they employ the hook-plus-harmony method of songwriting and come up with a batch of winners that make it clear that his contribution to the Weezer sound was not insignificant.

Displaying lyrics that betray their new-found status as parents, the Croppers baby-talk and toddle their way through some serious subjects. In "Free Lunch," Jason tackles the tough time kids have growing up.

"Took a trip once, I was 13/ Thought I was unlucky/ But I guess it doesn't mean much/ I was the new kid/ Wasn't in the cool bunch Rode the bus to school/ And I had to eat the free lunch/ There was a girl, said I was groady/ Didn't have the cooties/ But my ego just folded."

Amy takes lead vocals on "Frank N. Stein" and her flutey but down to earth voice tells what might well be the story of Jason's departure from Weezer. "Baby makes three, now itÕs time to leave, what's it gonna take to make my family happy, and what about me?" Throughout all of the songs, the two Croppers use thick harmonies to accent and fill out the melodies.

On "My Star," Rio's rhythmic tom beats draw us into the song before exploding into a series of punked-out fills that introduce the vocals. "Well my carÕs faster than your car baby, and I'm gonna drive away from here, and my love's stronger than any other, don't tell me that we're over dear." Jason sings lead on this tune and Amy ably backs him up with a series of "yeah-yeah"s that would make pop veterans of the past proud.

All the elements that Chopper One excel at are brought together in "Cherry Crush." Lyrics that are cute but not sickeningly so, enthusiastic drumming, distorted but friendly guitars and sweet-and-sour harmonies combine to form the catchiest song on a catchy album. To top it all off, the band added handclaps to a song whose chorus is, "I love my Cherry oh so much, strangely enough she's my cherry crush. "

Like the "fuzzy bear" in the lyrics of their second track "Come Touch My Fuzz," Chopper One offers rock that addresses strangely adult topics with music that's the straight ahead pop the kids love. Publishing their songs under the name "ubermommasuprapoppa music," the Croppers prove that there is life after Weezer and that, as they say, all good things come to those who wait.