Album of the Week: The Guilty Pleasures Edition

Musical guilty pleasures. We all have them. For some it’s top 40 radio, for others it’s pop country music. For me, it’s power pop bands from the 90s. They’re a bit like the equivalent to the hair bands that were peaking as the world was moving past them…you know, Firehouse? Have I mentioned on here that I once went to a Warrant/Trixter/Firehouse concert? By choice? Anyway, aside from posting a Trixter hit at the bottom of this, I’ll admit my guilty pleasure music for this week’s albums of the week.

Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up The Girl (iTunes)
Imagine if the music community held Bono’s charisma, charm and looks against him while the band was trying to make it in the early 80’s. They might have turned out like Goo Goo Dolls. I first heard of them when they released the single “Name,” which I still think is a great song. When A Boy Named Goo was released in 1995 with “Name” getting them noticed, they’d been releasing music for 8 years. So, when Dizzy Up The Girl came out, it was make or break for them. Considering their song “Iris” had gotten so much attention from “City of Angels” there was no doubt that the following album would do well. With songs like “Black Balloon” and “Slide” it secretly made it into my library. The songs still come up on shuffles and I even put one of the tracks on a CD I made last summer. Goo Goo Dolls have released a few more albums since Dizzy, but none have seen the commercial success like they had in the late 90s.

Matchbox 20 – Yourself or Someone Like You (iTunes)
I’ll admit, I, like you, dismissed Matchbox 20 the second I heard them. It wasn’t until years later that I gave them a chance. I borrowed a couple of their CDs from a friend and thought I was just borrowing fuel for the fire I’d been burning against this friend for calling them his favorite band. No one has Matchbox 20 as their favorite band, do they? The first thing I looked at when I had the CD was who wrote the songs. I expected perhaps the guitar player or someone outside of the band to be writing the songs for these pretty boys to play and sing. Much to my chagrine, Rob Thomas, the king of pretty boys wrote the majority of their songs. Everybody has heard “Push,” “3 A.M.” and “Real World” from the 1996 album, but if you scratch below the surface as I forced myself to do in 2003, you will find some really gems. I highly recommend “Kody,” “Back 2 Good” and “Long Day.” Since my experience of trying to hate Matchbox 20, I’ve accumulated their three albums plus Rob Thomas’ solo album. Definately not my favorite band, but some great music. There, I said it.

Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience (iTunes)
I think if it weren’t for the time that Gin Blossoms came around, they’d have a better reputation. The songwriting on New Miserable Experience is very taut. With the hits like “Hey Jelousy,” and “Found Out About You,” songs like “Until I Fall Away” and “Allison Road” were overlooked as the gems they are. If you don’t know anything about Gin Blossoms, just think about this. Imagine yourself as a guitar player with a knack for songwriting…you write a couple of great songs, form a band, then get fired from that band because you can’t stay sober. Tormented by the success the band is having with his songs and still struggling with his alcoholism, Doug Hopkins took his life in December of 1993. Hopkins wrote “Hey Jelousy” and “Found Out About You.” His suicide was just another charge in Gin Blossoms’ move up the charts. They had a hit with “Til I Hear it From You” on the Empire Records Soundtrack and released another album in 1996, but failed to hang on to the success that New Miserable Experience brought them. They’re releasing an album later this year 10 years after Congratulations…I’m Sorry.

To go along with the iTunes links, here are a few samples for you to download.

Goo Goo Dolls – Black Balloon
Matchbox 20 – Back 2 Good
Gin Blossoms – Until I Fall Away
As promised Trixter’s “Give it to Me Good” in case you forgot.

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