Learning the Hard Way - Gin Blossoms, Valenzuela, Jesse
Come on Hard - Gin Blossoms, Valenzuela, Jesse
Someday Soon - Gin Blossoms, Valenzuela, Jesse
Heart Shaped Locket - Gin Blossoms, Sandberg, Sue
The End of the World - Gin Blossoms, Valenzuela, Jesse
Long Time Gone - Gin Blossoms, Sandberg, Sue
Super Girl - Gin Blossoms, Valenzuela, Jesse
Let's Play Two - Gin Blossoms, Sandberg, Sue
Curious Thing - Gin Blossoms, Jones, Oliver
Jet Black Sunrise - Gin Blossoms, Leen, Biil
Fool for the Taking - Gin Blossoms, Sandberg, Sue
California Sun - Gin Blossoms, Sandberg, Sue
After a string of hits across the first half of the nineties, the Gin Blossoms disbanded by the decade's end. With the appearance of a greatest hits collection continuing to keep their songs alive, the band did a reunion s... more »how that led to a full fledged tour in 2002. Returning to the studio with a dozen new songs, Major Lodge Victory is their first new album in ten years. It's full of guitar hooks wedded to emotionally evocative lyrics ("I promise I won't hurt you anymore" "Mama said your life wouldn't be too easy, that's about the only thing she said at all"), most songs being by band founder Jesse Valenzuela. Robin Wilson's lightly vibratoed vocals have an evocative presence that call to mind Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield anyone?). The band manages to be at once crisp and powerful, occasionally finding grooves to settle into, but never straying far from the dramatic needs of each song. --David Greenberger« less
After a string of hits across the first half of the nineties, the Gin Blossoms disbanded by the decade's end. With the appearance of a greatest hits collection continuing to keep their songs alive, the band did a reunion show that led to a full fledged tour in 2002. Returning to the studio with a dozen new songs, Major Lodge Victory is their first new album in ten years. It's full of guitar hooks wedded to emotionally evocative lyrics ("I promise I won't hurt you anymore" "Mama said your life wouldn't be too easy, that's about the only thing she said at all"), most songs being by band founder Jesse Valenzuela. Robin Wilson's lightly vibratoed vocals have an evocative presence that call to mind Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield anyone?). The band manages to be at once crisp and powerful, occasionally finding grooves to settle into, but never straying far from the dramatic needs of each song. --David Greenberger
Not missing a beat after 10 years, Gin Blossoms return with
A. G. Corwin | 08/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ten years after their last album Congratulations I'm Sorry, alt rock popsters Gin Blossoms return with their new studio release Major Lodge Victory. Somehow recreating the magic that brought them such success in the 90s, the Blossoms a breezy summer sound with a sound addictive enough to stay in your CD player for a good long while.
As with any Gin Blossoms album you have the melodic uptempo rockers destined to be singles. The galloping opener and first single "Learning the Hard Way" kicks off the album with infectious layered harmonies, "Come On Hard" is an entertaining track with a fast picked guitar melody, "Long Time Gone" is addictive, and "Let's Play Two" has a melody that will stick in your head for a while. "Fool for the Taking" is another sure single fitting perfectly into the band's formula.
Of course you can't have a Gin Blossoms record without the mid-tempo rockers like "Heart Shaped Locket" and "Curious Thing," which deliver strong rhythm guitar chords, layered harmonies, and a sing-a-long vibe. "Someday Soon" slows the pace down with its gentle harmonies and Robin Wilson's strong vocals. "Heart Shaped Locket" is a nice song to sing along to, but its bubble-gum lyrics sap a bit of strength from an otherwise nice melody. "The End of the World" is a beatle-esque ballad while closing track "California Sun" ends the record on a nice note.
If you are a Gin Blossoms fan from back in the day, you need to pick up this album. Like previous records there are few stylistic departures from the overall sound, making the album pretty homogenous, but the band's sound and songwriting fill the 10 year void since the last album. This is an album of enjoyable pop that deserves attention. For anyone new to the band, this record may not be a classic, but its infectious pop is perfect for a hot summer at the beach or a long car ride. Recommended.
A.G. Corwin St Louis, MO"
It's Been 10 Years, But It Was Worth the Wait!
Brian Hartman | Scotch Plains, NJ United States | 08/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For God's sake, BUY THIS CD!! :)
Those of us who've been fans for years have been waiting for this ever since 2000 and the rumors that they were coming back together. I've got to say that I'm definitely not disappointed with their latest effort.
These are all songs in the classic Gin Blossoms, pop, jangly, hook-laden style. The real standouts on the album are "Learning the Hard Way", "Come On Hard", "Someday Soon", and "Super Girl".
The reason this gets 4 stars instead of 5 is because of certain songs like "Let's Play Two" and "The End of the World", which sound to me like filler put in there to flesh out the CD.
For those who are new to the Gin Blossoms (i.e., you were either not old enough to listen to the radio in 1993 or living on a deserted island from then until 1998), think of Fountains of Wayne, with a little more harmony (and I also like Fountains of Wayne, so that's no insult).
Classic GB's with a twist of Rembrandts...perfect!!!
Larry Davis | NYC/Long Island, NY | 08/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All I say is nice nice VERY nice!!! Having Danny Wilde present on the album is a VERY good thing, as Danny is a powerpop master, and their styles compliment each other awesomely. More on that later, but first a little history...
Two of my fave bands are essentially 2 sides of the same coin: the Gin Blossoms and the Refreshments. Both bands are from Tempe, AZ, and have roots in the same breezy southwestern rock & roll sound. The Refreshments are now Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, and they take that sound into more of a twangy, alt-country, Springsteen & Mexican-influenced direction, with killer shows and amazing records like the powerpoppy 2004 release "Americano!". The Gin Blossoms, however, take that sound into classic, harmony-drenched powerpop, which is just incredible. YET, their live shows are looser, totally fun and much more chaotic rock & roll, whilst never losing sight of the tunefulness of their songs.
The GBs got together in the mid-to-late 80s and released their first album "Dusted" independently, on vinyl only on the tiny San Jacinto label. Jesse Valenzuela was their original lead singer at the time too, which changed over time. They then gigged heavily over the next few years, built up a following, and after a victorious SXSW gig, won a deal with A&M. They recorded a botched debut for the label in 1990 with Albhy Galuten in LA, probably after his work on Jellyfish's AWESOME debut "Bellybutton" (the GB's powerpop roots and musical preferences are completely evident here...I wonder if any copies of this record have surfaced as bootlegs??), then regrouped and recorded the "Up & Crumbling" EP and then 1992's masterful, desert-island-worthy "New Miserable Experience" (deservedly reissued 10 years later as a 2CD deluxe edition). Doug Hopkins was unfortunately fired due to his alcoholism and depression, as the band probably felt he was bringing them down with him like a sinking ship...he then was so bummed as they had hits with his songs, understandably so, they had a big blowup and he then committed suicide, sad, but, gotta move on right???
Well, after touring relentlessly for NME, and radio catching on to their sound 1-2 years after it's release, generating 4 late-blooming hits (the powerpop classics "Hey Jealousy", "Found Out About You", "Until I Fall Away" and "Allison Road"), kept a followup from happening anytime soon. "Congratulations, I'm Sorry" finally appeared in 1996, generating 4 more hits (the soundtrack cut "Until I Hear It From You" written by Jesse Valenzuela with powerpop master Marshall Crenshaw, "Follow You Down", "Day Job" and "As Long As It Matters"), but the fatigue set in along with pressures from the label and desire to pursue other projects, so the band temporarily "broke up", probably partially to get out of their A&M contract. So, the label put out a half-hearted but acceptable hits collection in 1997.
The band then did other things, and some side projects emerged, Robin's + Phil's band the Pharaos 2000, who later became the Gas Giants and released their one great album "From Beyond The Back Burner" on the short-lived Atomic Pop label. Jesse became an outside songwriter and collaborated with people like Phoenix, AZ resident Stevie Nicks and released his wonderful debut solo album "Tunes Young People Will Enjoy", which is anything but a "kid's" album. Robin opened Mayberry Studios and Bill became a rare book dealer. Robin then fulfilled a dream, and did an album for a fictional cartoon band The Poppin' Wheelies, with cool artwork, pure powerpop tunes that Robin mostly wrote himself, along with 3 songs by powerpop master Tommy Keene, including his classic "Places That Are Gone". Jesse then collaborated with the Odds' Craig Northey under the name National Park, which evolved into the simpler-named Northey Valenzuela and released a self-titled album in 2006 on Universal's label The Lab via Fuel 2000. Oh yeah, and Scotty Johnson joined Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, played loads of gigs with them, and appeared on their first 3 albums, 1999's "Honky Tonk Union", 2000's "Real To Reel" live album, and 2002's "Sonoran Hope & Madness". He then left the band, why??? To rejoin the reunited Gin Blossoms, that's why!!!
Well, after reuniting and gigging for the past 4 years, the reunited Gin Blossoms, minus drummer Phil Rhodes, released a new album, their first in 10 looooong years, "Major Lodge Victory" on the small Hybrid label, and it's frikking AWESOME!!!!! 12 tracks of all killer, no filler, 45 minutes of substantial, harmony-drenched powerpop greatness. The band is in fine form, and Robin's in great voice. The tunes are gems, ALL of them, and the guys have stories to tell since they've been gone a decade, as you would expect. Yes, you can tell it's them, but "Major Lodge Victory" is no carbon copy of NME, and I woouldn't expect it to be. If it was, I would have been SERIOUSLY disappointed!!! I heard one big difference, and that is the presence of Danny Wilde, from the Rembrandts. In the songwriting and background harmonies, I think that's really cool, as I am a BIG Danny Wilde fan, and hearing this new GB record, sometimes I can't tell if I'm hearing the Gin Blossoms or Danny/the Rembrandts, and I don't mind at all. All in all, they've collaborated with powerpop people over the years, like Marshall Crenshaw, Tommy Keene, and now Danny. Just proves my instincts about Danny Wilde were all on the mark.
Now, the tunes...all gems. But if I have to pick fave tunes, 2 would have to be "Supergirl" and "Heart Shaped Locket", which is almost like a better "Stacy's Mom".
Looking forward to the next tour!!!!"
If You Liked 'em Before...
Mark A. Schreiber | Birmingham, AL USA | 08/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The good news about this album is that if you liked Gin Blossoms before, you'll greatly enjoy this release. There are hooks aplenty, lots of jangly pop-rock guitar, and one melodious mid-tempo rocker after another. Just like old times. This cd sounds like the logical follow-up to "Congratulations I'm Sorry" as if that album was released just last year.
And that's where there is bad news, if you want to consider it as such. After such a long layoff, you might think the band's sound had matured or they had something revelatory to say. Nope! But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Personally I loved their old sound and this is simply more of a good thing. While there aren't any brilliant moments like there were on "New Miserable Experience" and the sound and production is definitely old style, the new cd delivers exactly what we fans want and expect.
Not every band or every cd has to be groundbreaking or life-changing. Gin Blossoms had a great sound that coupled mournful lyrics with catchy pop tunes. I'm thrilled to have the band back just like they were before!"