Found out about Me [Part 1/4]
Found out about Me:
My (not so) New, (not so) Miserable Gin Blossoms Experience
By Geoff Stephen
Where Are They Now/Prologue (2016)
Learning the Hard Way (2006)
The summer of 2006.
Taking the bus every weekday to a ‘real’ summer job, listening to my newfangled iPod 1GB nano, wearing a tucked-in shirt (no knee-length, long-sleeve, earthy green number à la 1995-Geoff).
Living in a questionable apartment with my unquestionably gorgeous girlfriend.
During that summer, we bought a car, adopted a pet, filled out a Census together…talk about being grown-ups.
Me in 2006 with aforementioned car & pet.
Regrettably, could not find any mid-Census action shots.
Though I was giddy as a school-kid when I heard there was a new Gin Blossoms album available.
I remembered reading an interview during university where the guitarist Jesse Valenzuela had said something along the lines of, “Gin Blossoms? I don’t think we’ll hear from them anytime soon.” Referring to his own band in the third person plural? A reunion looked bleak.
Besides, Valenzuela had co-written the Corner Gas theme with one of the guys from The Odds, I’d assumed they’d all moved on to different projects.
Pleasantly surprised at the news, I promptly bought Major Lodge Victory, the first Gin Blossoms album in 10 years.
I opened the shrink wrap, played the CD and was…underwhelmed.
It started reasonably well…but then it got boring & bland.
I looked at the sleeve, the band was down to 4 members?
Apart from the late-album track Curious Thing, the CD was pretty much relegated to the shelf.
And upon the CD shelf it sat…until the spring of 2016 (while the CD shelf may be the same, it’s now in a much less questionable living space & thankfully still with that same unquestionably gorgeous gal).
After several listens this week, it turns out, the album’s not nearly as boring as I remembered. It’s still not terribly exciting at times but it’s inevitably melodic.
In 2016, I’d classify the Major Lodge Victory tracks as follows:
A decade ago, the majority of the album would have been in the 3rd category.
Why the favourable review now? Unfavourable then?
I’ve come up with a trio of theories as to why I wasn’t so enamored in 2006:
1) Former drummer Phil Rhodes is (still) noticeably absent.
It’s not unlike Weezer post-Matt Sharp: subsequent bassists have played competently, but without some of the inimitable Sharp-isms.
Though his drumming was never fancy, I really liked how Rhodes would frequently open the hi-hat slightly towards the end of 2nd verses, propelling the songs into the choruses.
A minor detail perhaps, but for a 2nd verse enthusiast (that’s for another series), it makes a major difference. Without it, the 3rd category songs don’t seem to go anywhere, or they don’t seem to get there as urgently as I’d like.
Former Gin Blossoms drummer Phil Rhodes (left) and former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp (right)
2) In terms of other missing contents, maybe some tracks were missing the contrast that made previous Gin Blossoms albums more interesting.
3) By 2006, I was in my mid-twenties, I wasn’t 14 anymore; I was adopting pets and tucking in shirts, who has the energy to fall in love with new albums?
14-year olds, that’s who.
14-year olds like me, when Major Lodge Victory’s predecessor was released in 1996.
(to be continued)