Gin Blossoms

New Miserable Experience

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The Gin Blossoms were one of the more truly damned rock & roll bands to grace the pop charts in the 1990s. The group was founded and spiritually led by singer-guitarist Doug Hopkins, who also wrote the band's best songs; however, by the time New Miserable Experience marked the band's major-label debut in 1992, Hopkins had been kicked out (his bandmates had apparently tired of dealing with his alcoholism). Hopkins killed himself shortly thereafter, and the band later enjoyed the biggest hit of its career with "'Til I Hear It From You" (which, perversely, never appeared on a Gin Blossoms album, but only on the Empire Records soundtrack -- and was written by outside writer Marshall Crenshaw to boot). The band dropped from sight not long after.

Released during the heyday of grunge music, New Miserable Experience remains the best and most representative document of the group's existence, a tight and lean collection of brilliant, edgy pop music that was markedly different from the bulk of 1992's modern rock albums. "Hey Jealousy" and "Until I Fall Away" are the two songs that leave the deepest impression -- and, appropriately, both were successful singles -- but the crunchy, jangled melodicism and lyrical desperation of "Hold Me Down" is similarly notable. Two dilettantish genre pieces -- "Cajun Song" and a country weeper called "Cheatin'" (as in "you can't call it cheatin' 'cause she reminds me of you") -- provide the program's two low points, but even those aren't completely without charm.

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