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Found out about Me [Part 1/4]

April 3, 2016

Picture of a photograph

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)

[Part 1/4]

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:

Major Lodge Victory

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.

Phil Rhodes Matt Sharp.pngFormer 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)

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  1. Oh man this is cool! It’s like a flashback to Young Gin Geoff! Awesome stuff. It’s amazing how u pin pointed the drummers feel where his replacemet. Didn’t have that feel! Great call…..look forward to part 2…
    Great stuff dude….

    • Much appreciated Deke – and stories about an even younger Gin Geoff (I like that name!) are still to come

  2. Really liked this, Geoff. I have a few albums I’ve felt similarly about. Important (to us) bands with underwhelming albums … mostly because we’re hoping for that spark … glad this one is starting to click. Might never be what you were looking for, but the returns looked to have increased! Hurrah!

    • Thanks J!
      I was thinking of you when I saved that opening photo (I saved it as ‘picture of a photograph,’ a tip of the hat to the STP Big Bang Baby lyric).

  3. I love all of this. I liked MLV! I am biased though, I like all GBs.

    3) Who has time to fall in love with new albums? THIS GUY, even in my 40s! It never stops, man. It’s in the frickin’ DNA. 🙂

    • THanks Aaron!
      I’ve really been enjoying re-immersing in the GBs, so many fantastic songs.
      I admire your ongoing enthusiasm for new music Aaron, it’s contagious, and that’s an excellent thing!

  4. Also, awesome flashbacks. Can’t wait for more!

  5. Hackskeptic permalink

    I love these flashbacks Geoff. Excellent stuff! I envy that you have such detailed memories of a time and place when you listened to the record. My memories are so blurry and I don’t think I could ever write using personal experience like you do.

    • Thanks Geoff!
      It’s amazing what a song can do – I hadn’t heard some of these albums in years, but as soon as I played them again, memories came rushing back.

  6. I had no idea this album even existed!

  7. First, I have to say I didn’t get to read this until you wrote part 2, and I love the way you’re setting this up. I am admittedly unfamiliar with this album, but perhaps should take a listen.

    I feel I must mention that after viewing the 2006 pictures several times, I see no evidence of shirt-tucking, which is probably because shirt-tucking is uncomfortable and highly overrated. I do not support the shirt-tucking movement. Shirts do not belong in pants. Unless you’re wearing a suit. 😉

    • At first listen -it sounds miles away from NME. But in hindsight (for me listening 10 years later), it’s probably an appropriate path for them to take, instead of trying to recreate that early 90s gem.

      Haha, I agree wholeheartedly that this whole shirt-tucking in business is overrated!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Found out about Me (Part 2/4) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. Found out about Me [part 3/4] | 1001albumsin10years
  3. Found out about Me [Part 4/4] | 1001albumsin10years
  4. Magazine – Real Life (1978) | 1001albumsin10years

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