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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gin Blossoms – No Chocolate Cake album review

Gin Blossoms – No Chocolate Cake album review
Released on: 429 Records. Release date: Available now.

I don’t know about you, but for me the Gin Blossoms were always one of those ‘hard to tag’ bands, based on their overall sound.
Like so many acts from the 80’s and 90’s, they also had more than their fair share of bad luck.
During their peak – They started around 1987 – let’s say the mid 90’s, they probably only had four or five really well known songs, that people would really remember and they only released three albums during that time and this new one, ‘No Chocolate Cake’ is only their fifth official studio release.

Back in their heyday, though they had some other really strong songs too, that were written by main songwriter and guitarist Doug Hopkins, who sadly was to take his own life in 1993. The guy actually wrote probably their two best known hits in ‘Hey Jealousy’ and ‘Found out about You,’ although other popular songs by the band were ‘Follow You Down,’ ‘Alison Road,’ ‘Mrs. Rita’ and ‘Until I Fall Away.’

The downside for me with the band, was that although I really liked all of the above songs and more, the albums did not hit me as consistent enough throughout, albums such as ‘New Miserable Experience’ – Probably the best of the bunch. – the debut ‘Dusted’ and ‘Congratulations, I’m Sorry.’
Much as I really hate to say it, but for me simply ‘Outside Looking In: The Best of the Gin Blossoms’ has become my favourite release by the band …, until now!

Yes, ‘No Chocolate Cake’ although it only features two of the original band members in bassist Bill Leen and vocalist Robin Wilson, it’s a really enjoyable album, at least for me!
Keep in mind, I really did like their most commercial work best!

The very up tempo and punchy ‘Don’t Change For Me’ is very catchy indeed, if you don’t like the opener, then you are missing out big time, I think it’s a great and solid opener.

You know at times, the band actually remind me of UK pop rock band, Squeeze and next track ‘I Don’t Want To Lose You Now,’ makes me think that at times, then I think musically of Tom Petty, even Bryan Adams – With his better material.
It’s a good mid tempo pop rock tune and vocalist Robin Wilson still has that distinct voice that many people simply love or downright hate! I think it's great, unique and clearly identifies the band and is still as good today as it was during the bands peak.

‘Miss Disarray’ is another mid paced pop song, that even brings to mind Crowded House and nice guitar solo too. Good stuff!

In ‘Wave Bye Bye’ it’s a true Gin Blossoms more laid back, emotional style song that fans of old will easily associate themselves with.

It’s back to a punchy start with ‘I’m Ready’ next which then eases back before picking up again for the chorus.
Does anyone ever remember a UK pop/rock band called ‘The Motors?’ Well, the Gin Blossoms also at times bring back memories of them as well, certainly with this release. It’s full of so many hooks, it really is.

‘Somewhere Tonight’ is more of a laid back tune generally, with that jangly guitar sound, that OK, the band do have a lot of here, still very solid though.

Time to pick up the pace again with ‘Go CryBaby’ up next. The Gin Blossoms have an awful lot of material that starts with that uptempo, almost trademark kick in intro before easing back through the verses and then ripping things up in the chorus.
After the intro on this, the song tends to settle for a mid to up tempo pace and once again, it’s got a tasty guitar solo.

Wow! It’s serious ballad time with ‘If You’ll Be Mine’ which almost has a Beatles like feel to it. Kind of George Harrison / Jeff Lynne territory. Nice one guys!

‘Dead or Alive On the 405’ has more than a little tongue in cheek to it! They use a brass section sound here, then there's a brief Beach Boys parody or perhaps tribute too, not to mention both Styx and Nickelback getting name checks here and a song or too along the way.
It’s a fun tune, I can see that and it’s still catchy too!

It’s the laid back approach in ‘Something Real’ next and it’s OK but perhaps the least hook laden of all tracks here.
To close the album off, it’s the steady mid paced ‘Goin’ To California’ that’s fairly true Gin Blossoms stuff to be honest.
It’s really not a bad album at all and is certainly, in my opinion, the most consistent work from these guys in a long time.
Welcome back guys!

Rating: 3.75 out of 5
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