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New Miserable Experience

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Editors’ Notes

Arizona’s Gin Blossoms distilled sun-baked alienation into tunefully rueful folk-rock of a high order. Built around the damaged psyche and unquestionable talent of founder/lead singer/guitarist Doug Hopkins, the group’s finest hour was its 1992 major-label debut New Miserable Experience. The torment (and twisted humor) implied by its title speaks volumes — the music here soars and jangles like the Byrds and R.E.M. at their best, while the lyrics unsparingly detail failed love affairs and blown opportunities. The combination is oddly exhilarating, as evidenced by the album’s two big hits, “Hey Jealousy” and “I Found Out About You.” “Cajun Song” and the country weeper “Cheatin’” add some diversity to the high-octane rock thrust. At the heart of it all are Hopkins’ dysfunctional dreams, revealing a panorama of romantic stalemates (“Mrs. Rita,” ”Allison Road”) and free-floating angst (“Lost Horizons,” “Hold Me Down”). The alcohol-soaked despair of “Pieces Of The Night” is genuine — Hopkins was forced out of the group, then took his own life not long after New Miserable Experience was released. The band carried on without him for a time, yet never equaled their earlier brilliance.

Customer Reviews

Pure Genius

These guys rock! The genius of Gin Blossoms' core writing team at the time, lead singer Robin Wilson, guitarist Jesse Valenzuela, and late lead guitarist Doug Hopkins, is evident in the raw emotion conveyed in refined, pleasing ways. Overall, Gin Blossoms were one of the chief bands who shaped adult alternative's sound. This album is an essential. 1. Lost Horizons- Doug Hopkins' slightly depressing alt-rocker is really made wonderful by Robin Wilson's melancholy vocals. The riff is catchy as well. (10/10) 2. Hey Jealousy- Gin Blossoms' definitive hit; another one of Hopkins' songs. The guitars have just the right amount of crunch. This track also showcases Hopkins' soloing chops. You'll be singing and dancing along with this one in no time. (10/10) 3. Mrs. Rita- Jesse Valenzuela's (and Jim Swafford's) song about a local psychic in Tempe, Arizona. A decent mid-tempo rocker. (7/10) 4. Until I Fall Away- Robin Wilson and Jesse Valenzuela's sublime ballad. It is by far one of the most beautiful songs ever written. (10/10) 5. Hold Me Down- A mid-tempo song in Gin Blossoms' unique style. A little drawn-out, but still highly recommended. (8/10) 6. Cajun Song- One of the album's two weak points. A bit too out-of-genre, but catchy. 5/10 7. Hands Are Tied- One of Robin Wilson's few grittier vocals (the other being "Weeds" on Gin Blossoms' "Just South Of Nowhere" DVD, one of Gin Blossoms' best songs), and a great rock song. (9/10) 8. Found Out About You- This song can be properly appreciated now that it isn't being played 15 times a day by every radio station. Some excellent guitar and writing by Doug Hopkins, and one of Bill Leen's best baselines. The solo is a bit weak, however. (9/10) 9. Allison Road- The original major-label version of the song, not the strange remix. A great adult alternative song. (8/10) 10. 29- In my opinion, the second best song Jesse Valenzuela ever wrote (next to "Follow You Down"). This song sets a nice, melancholy mood with its great chord progression. (9/10) 11. Pieces of the Night- A sublime melody that will stick with you for a long time. The version with the piano ending from NME Deluxe Edition is more highly recommended, though. (9/10) 12. Cheatin'- The album's second out-of-genre weak point. Compare this to "Congratulations... I'm Sorry"'s "Memphis Time," and this song balks. Thankfully it isn't meant to be serious, although Jesse Valenzuela is a great singer. (4/10)

A Must-Own Pop/Rock Album

Forget lumping this album into a strictly "90's Best" playlist, "New Miserable Experience" is one finely crafted pop/rock album period. Though the band's popularity is short-lived, that's no excuse NOT to pick-up this album. Even the lowest points of the CD (probably only 1 or 2 tracks at most) aren't enough to detract from the overall picture. Great song writing, great hooks and melodies equals one truly great album.

hey jealousy

Hey Jealousy, need I say more. But I will...Until I Fall Away, Allsion Road, Found out about you, Cajun Song...the list keeps going. And their new Cd is dynamite too. Definitely, if you like Goo Goo Dolls, Counting Crows, Matt Perrone, John Mellencamp, Hootie...you'll love Gin Blossoms and this CD. It's catchy and great to sing along with.

Biography

Formed: 1987 in Tempe, AZ

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

By blending contemporary power pop with elements of the post-grunge era, Gin Blossoms briefly emerged as torchbearers of the lighter side of alternative rock. Bassist Bill Leen and guitarist Doug Hopkins formed the band in 1987 in Tempe, AZ, rounding out the initial lineup with vocalist Jesse Valenzuela, guitarist Richard Taylor, and drummer Chris McCann. The following year saw several personnel shifts as the band struggled to solidify — McCann was replaced by Dan Henzerling (and, shortly thereafter,...
Full Bio