83 internautes sur 83 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
In 1992, I was the pop music editor at a Southern California newspaper when I received a promotional cassette of "New Miserable Experience." That night I popped the tape into my stereo and listened in awe as the glorious opening strains of "Lost Horizons" pealed from the speakers. With its bittersweet lyrics about hard drinking and misspent youth, "Lost Horizons" raged like some woebegone Irish shanty. To wit: "I'll drink enough of anything to make this world look new again ... I'm drunk, drunk, drunk in the gardens and the graves ..."
And I remember thinking that these weren't the trivial musings of some spoiled rock star. No, this was honest-to-God poetry composed by a genuinely tortured soul. "New Miserable Experience" devastated me so completely, I phoned my girlfriend Kathy and commanded her to come to my place IMMEDIATELY. That night we cruised the Sunset Strip with the tape blasting from the stereo. We talked about the record, and how we knew that whoever wrote the songs wasn't faking his pain. The Gin Blossoms articulated the doubt and uncertainty Kathy and I felt about our own lives, our own futures. The album became the soundtrack to our brief but unforgettable fling.
It's been nearly 10 years since that memorable drive and "New Miserable Experience" now strikes me as both an unsung masterpiece and a symbol of pop music's bygone glory. The album is part of a '90s musical explosion that spawned acclaimed recordings by Nirvana, Massive Attack, Jeff Buckley, Tool, Alice In Chains, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dr. Dre, The Black Crowes, Soundgarden, Sarah McLachlan, Pearl Jam, Tupac, Stone Temple Pilots, The Offspring, Billy Joe Shaver, Counting Crows, Rosanne Cash, Sting, The Devlins and others. For some inexplicable reason, established acts and new artists alike had plugged into the same electric muse, and life seemed so much better for it.
Though most of the records from that era have retained their mystique and complexity, "New Miserable Experience" ranks among the heaviest. If you're a misfit, outcast or just an exceptionally sensitive human being, then you MUST experience this album. If you're a party animal seeking the musical equivalent of a Schwartzenegger movie, then "New Miserable Experience" probably isn't for you. Its subtle charms and vulnerable lyricism will soar over your head like a cruise missile.
NME's success is due largely to the Blossoms' star-crossed resident genius, the late guitarist-songwriter Douglas Hopkins. By the time the band recorded "New Miserable Experience," Hopkins was already in the grip of a crushing, alcohol-aggravated depression. Endearingly honest and self-effacing, "New Miserable Experience" chronicles Hopkins' descent into a booze-induced hell. Don't let the Blossoms' choirboy vocals, glimmering country-rock guitars and hummable pop melodies deceive you. As its title suggests, "New Miserable Experience" is veritably saturated in luxuriant sadness.
Indeed, as other reviewers have suggested, listening to this record could bring you face-to-face with your own slumbering demons. Consider the review submitted by John J. Ronald of Texas. As a painfully shy young adult with substance abuse problems, he listened to this record "religiously." Having since matured into responsible adulthood, Ronald now views "New Miserable Experience" as almost unbearably sad. His review bears testament to the emotional depth of this record. In a modern rock 'n' roll world where blowhards like Korn and Linkin Park are considered standard-bearers, "New Miserable Experience" decimates listeners without once resorting to vocal histrionics or guitar overkill. Just powerful performances and earnest lyricism. Where I come from, that's called "soul."
Considering the piteous current state of popular music, NME's soulfulness now inspires wistful sadness. Mergers and consolidation have resulted in a profiteering music industry trafficking lowest-common-denominator pop. Sadder still, many of my '90s musical heroes are dead including Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley, Tupac, Eddie Shaver and the Blossoms' own Doug Hopkins. Did these troubled artists take the last vestiges of rock 'n' roll emotionalism to their graves?
Though that question remains to be answered, one thing seems certain to me: "New Miserable Experience" ranks as one of the finest rock albums EVER, and I defy anyone to cite another record that's more honest, passionate or brutally introspective.
Lest anyone accuse me of mincing words, consider this: I'm a freelance music writer and critic by trade. The thought of writing a record review without being compensated is downright repulsive to me. "New Miserable Experience" is so pure, so beautiful, so transcendently profound, I simply had to pay my respects here.
Rest in peace Doug, you beautiful drunken angel. And goodnight Kathy, wherever you are. God, I miss you ...
14 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
The first thing that may come to mind is "New Miserable Experience" - that album didn't come out in 1994, but came out in 1992. However, when I look back at the music scene in 1994, the album that I felt made the biggest impact was "New Miserable Experience". Many might consider 1994 a down year in the music industry, but I look at it more as a transition year. This collection of twelve tunes was a terrific example of how this transition could also translate to superb quality. This was the era when Alternative Rock began to go mainstream.
As far as Alternative Rock goes. This was originally a term that was a "catch all" to describe those genres of music that didn't fit into the mainstream. In the 80s, you had Punk, New Wave, College Rock, Underground music, etc. All of these were considered Alternative Rock. One genre that evolved as an offshoot was Grunge. Nirvana really was leading the movement here. I looked at Grunge as integrating elements of Guitar Based (to a minor extent acoustic elements) with some of the elements found in the various genres that fell into Alternative Rock. Many called Grunge, "The Seattle Sound". As Nirvana led this revolution in the industry, they helped bring not just Grunge - but the entire Alternative Rock movement into the mainstream. Caught up in the wave of this was an Arizona based band named the Gin Blossoms, who had been doing some recording. In 1992, they would release the album "New Miserable Experience". I think the Gin Blossoms took the next step in this revolution of the Alternative Rock movement. While Nirvana brought Alternative into the Mainstream, the Gin Blossoms steered them to the front of the pack. Some even say the Gin Blossoms are the pioneers of the "Arizona Music Sound".
Gin Blossoms, with three guitarists (Lead Singer Robin Wilson, Jesse Valenzuela, and Doug Hopkins) and a Bassist (Bill Leen) provided those Guitar Based elements that this latest surge in the Alternative Rock Revolution (they also had a terrific drummer in Philip Rhodes). As mentioned earlier, Gin Blossoms had been around for a few years on the Arizona Music Scene. By 1992, they were ready to record their first full album "New Miserable Experience". It would be Wilson, Valenzuela, and Hopkins that would emerge as the three primary songwriters for the band. Not discrediting or discounting his band members, it seems that Doug Hopkins really provided the edge in terms of songwriting among the trio. It would be Hopkins' own personal battle that would become the underlying theme of the collection - and thus the title "New Miserable Experience".
Hopkins had a history of alcoholism and depression. During the recording of "New Miserable Experience" it reached a breaking point where the band was forced to part ways with someone who was arguably the creative force behind the band. Following the release of the album, a legal battle ensued. Eventually after several attempts, Hopkins would commit suicide. While Kurt Cobain's death is a major event in music history - Hopkins' death is often just a footnote. Perhaps this is because he was only a part of this full album. His impact is clearly felt on "New Miserable Experience" because most of the best songs are the Hopkins penned tunes.
The first two songs definitely are a reflection on Hopkins' own lifestyle - and these are songs written by Hopkins. These tunes definitely belong back to back. In "Lost Horizons", Hopkins writes "Drink Enough of Anything, To Make This World Look New Again" and "Drunk Drunk Drunk in the Gardens". By the second track which is the Gin Blossoms biggest hit "Hey Jealousy", it seems like Hopkins realizes he had too much to drink as he writes "You See I'm In No Shape For Driving".
Hopkins is also responsible for what is considered the band's second biggest hit "Found Out About You". Although not about drinking, it follows the jealousy theme of "Hey Jealousy". Hopkins would also write two very strong songs that aren't as well known - these are "Pieces of the Night" and "Hold Me Down". "Hold Me Down" has a very Southern/Rockish sound. As a co-writer of "Cheatin" with Valenzuela, Gin Blossoms show a lot of diversity in making a song that sounds more Country music-ish than Alternative Rock-ish.
Don't discredit the other songs. The Wilson and Valenzuela penned songs are very good as well. "Mrs Rita", "Until I Fall Away", "Allison Road", "29", and "Hands Are Tied" might not be written by Hopkins, but they don't show any shortcomings.
There are a lot of interesting elements that make this an "Album of the Year". You won't hear much in the way of Synthesizers and Keyboards. This is much more of a string based effort (although there is some Piano in "Pieces of the Night" and "Until I Fall Away"). Another big factor is Robin Wilson. Wilson is a very underrated lead vocalist. His voice lends itself very well to this guitar based sound. Combine this with some terrific background vocals from Jesse Valenzuela, it provides from some incredible harmonies. This is evident on "Hey Jealousy", "Found Out About You". "Lost Horizons".
The liner notes are outstanding. All of the lyrics to all of the songs are included. There are full songwriting and musician credits given. There are also production credits listed. There is an exhaustive "Thank You" section which includes some interesting "Thank Yous" to the Tempe Music Scene and to another group that followed the heels of Guitar Based Alternative Rock - Toad the Wet Sprocket. The liner notes are written in "handwriting", so they are a little difficult to lead. Gin Blossoms would never have follow-up success like this album. Their follow-up "Congratulations I'm Sorry" was not as strong and didn't sell nearly as well. Eventually the band would split and reform in 2002. However, the impact from 1994 cannot be erased. This is a must have album.