New Miserable Experience

Gin Blossoms

An immensely re-listenable album, New Miserable Experience gives us some of the best pop/alternative rock that Tempe, AZ had to offer in the mid 90s. Hits like Hey Jealousy and Found Out About You are well balanced by the garage-influenced Hands Are Tied, the desperado faced Cajun Song, and the full-on country of Cheatin'.

New Miserable Experience is the most complete album by the Gin Blossoms.

The album has some great tunes for sure. It was literally the first CD that I purchased in 1993. At the time, Boston-based rock station WAAF was into playing a large variety of rock songs across many sub-genres.

A fair share of the songs on New Miserable Experience were carried over from their first two studio efforts, Dusted and Up and Crumbling.

The original versions of Hey Jealousy and Found Out About You from Dusted

Like any band before their breakthrough success, every song is just a little faster, just a little more frantic, has just a little more grit and a little more edge to it.

You can hear that here on Hey Jealousy and Found Out About You. What’s really interesting about those two songs is that they were written in 1989, only 400 miles from the Sunset Strip, where Hair Metal Bands ruled the land.

Better still, they shared quite the commonality with Buffalo’s Goo Goo Dolls, also active at the time.

Doug Hopkins, guitar player, songwriter, and founder of the band

On a sad note, Doug Hopkins committed suicide a year and a half after being fired from the band.

Which, really sucks.

Setting aside the sadness of the event, his songs were the highlights of their (early) catalogue. What a loss.

Rating

I give New Miserable Experience a 710

A strong 7. You could put the album on repeat for a trip to the next state over and not notice it started over.

Track listing

  1. Lost Horizons
  2. Hey Jealousy
  3. Mrs. Rita
  4. Until I Fall Away
  5. Hold Me Down
  6. Cajun Songs
  7. Hands Are Tied
  8. Found Out About You
  9. Allison Road
  10. 29
  11. Pieces of the Night
  12. Cheatin’

New Miserable Experience album notes

Lost Horizons

As pure a 90s pop song as one could write without being a hit. Slightly overdriven electric guitars, chimey arpeggios, bright basslines, Lost Horizons nails the Tempe-style pop rock sound.

I’ll drink enough of anything! The Tempe scene was quite open about their boozing, just see: The Refreshments The Bottle & Fresh Horses.

Hey Jealousy

The hit! Hey Jealousy made the Gin Blossoms a household name. Hey Jealousy is also well known in the bar band circuit. Like a Fantasy Football WR3, it gives the 3rd or 4th singer in a band a chance to take the mic and give the lead singer a chance to grab a beer, hit on the ladies, or god forbid, pick up a tambourine.

Don’t be that guy!

Hey Jealousy rocks surprisingly more than you remember.

Mrs. Rita

Hey, we all hope Mrs. Rita is coming around.

Mrs. Rita is hard(er) version of the future penned hit, Follow You Down.

The consistent bass from Leen allows the guitars to layer and layer over it, filling in the sound.

The same future penned hit that Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles all but stole from the Gin Blossoms. Really, listen to the intro(s).

Until I Fall Away

Oh no! The dreaded lead singer playing a tambourine! It only took two tracks! Damnit!

Until I Fall Away features an acoustic guitar solo. Always tasteful.

The pre-chorus scale run is unusual for a song at this tempo.

What can you say though, Gin Blossoms wrote really tight knit, sing-a-long songs, whether they were upbeat, sad, etc.

Hold Me Down

Hold Me Down could easily be found on The Refreshments Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy, as Robin Wilson and Roger Clyne share a very similar timbre, and the instrumentation is closely arranged.

Tempe, AZ had a mini-scene, and both the Gin Blossoms and The Refreshments were key bands in creating it.

Also, please please please tell me that the guy in the beginning on the Hold Me Down (live) video is a pre-famous Vince Vaughn.

Cajun Song

Once again, Cajun Song could be on Fizzy Fuzzy. The same somber desert cowboy who leaves a trail of margaritas, seƱoritas, and the dusty, dirt road home is here on New Miserable Experience as well.

Absolutely love Chenier’s accordion.

Hands Are Tied

A 1 2 3 count in. Way to keep the garage feel, boys.

Hands Are Tied is (perhaps) the hardest rock tune on the entire album. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t feature the arpeggiated guitars.

The solo is a weird, expressive 90s rock version of some Texas / New Mexico blues, with a garage punk chug.

Found Out About You

Another Hopkins penned tune. And, the best song on New Miserable Experience. The Gin Blossoms may be known for Hey Jealousy and being on the Empire Records soundtrack, but Found Out About You is their best work.

Great intro. Catchy chorus. Solid verse.

The clean solo into the overdriven solo shows songwriting finesse.

You can feel the punch of “WHISPERS at the bus stop, NIGHTS out in the school yard, I FOUND OUT about you”

Fun fact: Noles, Pants, and I covered this at a Boston nightclub several years back.

Dope song.

Allison Road

Is that a 12-string to open the song? I’m not a good enough drummer, nor do I possess the rhythmic understanding to comment on Rhodes first drum beat.

Allison Road is 100% on-brand for the Gin Blossoms. Catchy chorus with tons of backing vocals. Chord changes that infer a brief new musical direction. Constant note plucking.

Plenty of slides and guitar bends, courtesy of the southwest.

29

29 is quite the lonely portrait that gets painted across it’s 4:19 airtime. Leen’s bass plays in-between the solo nicely.

Pieces of the Night

Night driving. In retrospect, should have seen that coming via the name alone.

If you distilled the Gin Blossoms (booze pun!), you’d hear Toad the Wet Sprocket in Pieces of the Night, especially in the Something’s Always Wrong choral melody.

Becker lending a hand on piano.

Cheatin’

Country music! I cry Country foul! This ain’t grunge! This ain’t hair metal!

Nah, it’s cool. Jesse Valenzuela drops some West Texas knowledge on us. Specifically, that things are all the same, from New York City to Galveston.

Reverb’d slide guitar. I’m for it.

Thank you, Robby Turner, for the delightful pedal steel.

As good as Cheatin’ is as a song, they did not end New Miserable Experience in full 90s rock splendor.