Albums I Grew Up On: '90s Jangle Pop

Previously: Butt Rock vs. Geek Rock

If one were to assemble a time capsule of the '90s, I'm pretty sure these two albums would have to be included.

Gin Blossoms:
New Miserable Experience

I first saw the music video for "Hey Jealousy" during the closing credits of Entertainment Tonight, aka my primary sources of "news" back in 1993. That song of course went on to become a huge hit, and as other singles like "Until I Fall Away," "Found Out About You" and "Allison Road" just kept coming, I eventually had no other choice but to add New Miserable Experience to my cassette collection.

Setting the tone as all good album openers should, "Lost Horizons" bursts forth with a euphoric pop hook, but the melancholy lyrics pack a hidden punch ("She had nothing left to say, so she said she loved me, and I stood there grateful for the lie"). Its ironic title, New Miserable Experience, perfectly sums up the album and the band, who hit it big just before ousted guitarist/songwriter Doug Hopkins committed suicide. Not surprisingly, their later material failed to capture the same depth and torment of their debut.

Proof that some of the best art is born out of misery, I feel like the Gin Blossoms' music has enjoyed a staying power that many '90s alternative bands have lacked (Dishwalla, anyone?). New Miserable Experience is one of my top 15 favorite albums, and only an unfortunate foray into country on the all-important closing track ("Cheatin") has kept it from cracking my Desert Island Discs.

Hootie & the Blowfish:
Cracked Rear View

It may be a well-worn musical cliché, but I started listening to Hootie & The Blowfish before they really caught on. It must have been a combination of their unusual name and laid back vibe that did it for me. In any case, I remember endlessly extolling the virtues of Hootie to my seemingly oblivious classmates in 9th grade geometry. And yes, I realize how funny that last sentence sounds.

The ensuing summer of '95 was something of a transition period for me. I was old enough to stay up later, but not old enough to be out with friends every night. Typically my nights were spent watching The Late Show With David Letterman, and Hootie was the musical guest with increasing frequency. Next thing I knew, "Only Wanna Be With You" was all over the radio, and Cracked Rear View was selling millions upon millions of copies.

Once the summer ended, I was waiting in line for the school bus after my first day of high school. One of my old geometry classmates saw me and exclaimed, "Hey, it's that Hootie & The Blowfish kid!" Yes, that's me, "Hootie & The Blowfish kid" at your service.


Krissy said...

I loved Hootie. It's a shame after how awesome they were, Darius ended up on a Burger King commercial.

Timothy said...

Police Chief Wiggum hands Bart a tape to record his dealings with the bad guys.

Bart - "Hootie and the Blowfish?"
Chief Wiggum - "Yeah, it's cheaper than a blank tape."

That pretty much sums your taste in music.

Dave said...

Geez, Timothy, I'll leave it if it means that much to you.