When I first got this box of CDs from my pal Jesse, one of the ones that really popped out to me was Gas Giants From Beyond The Back Burner. It’s not because I knew about this band or had heard about this record, it’s because the cover and some art in the booklet was drawn by Geof Darrow (Hard Boiled, Shaolin Cowboy), one of the all-time greatest comic book artists of all time.
So, when I reached into the box and came out with this record, I was pretty interested. From the front, it looks like it might be a metal record (possibly nu-metal, given the era) and by the back it looks almost like a record for kids. And yet, when I hit play on my iTunes, I was surprised to find myself absorbing more of a pop rock record in the vein of The Replacements. I was even more surprised to realize that I completely recognized the lead singer, but couldn’t place him. I figured he was from a band like Seven Mary Three or one of those other mid-to-late 90s rock bands.
The voice thing wasn’t too distracting and actually acted as kind of a gateway of familiarity for me into this record. I mean, it already sounded like a lot of the music I heard on Detroit’s 89X or Toledo’s BUZZ 106.5 while doing my homework in the late 90s and early 00s. It’s that era-specific rock music that’s just the slightest bit distorted (or grunge-y, if you’re nasty), but never gets too far into that arena.
Overall, I really enjoyed this record. Listening to it didn’t blow my mind. It wasn’t like discovering this long-lost treasure of amazing music from a bygone era. But it was a really fun experience because the songs were quality, the band was solid and, as I’ve said, there was an indirect link to my youth. So, while it wasn’t a lost treasure, it was like stumbling on to a book in a series that you didn’t know you were missing that’s also pretty good. I don’t know if a younger listener would enjoy the record as much. Am I enjoying it because of the nostalgia factor or based solely on quality? It’s both, really, I don’t think they can be separated.
So, after giving it a listen, I finally scratched the itch and looked the band up. The lead singer, Robin Wilson, is the guy from Gin Blossoms! Apparently that band broke up in 1997. Wilson and drummer Phil Rhodes started Gas Giants with Daniel Henzerling, who also played with the Blossoms, and Mickey Ferrel. They cut just this one album, released “Quitter” as the single and broke up in 2001. After reading all that, I went back and listened to the single again and I’m honestly not sure if it lives in my memory or not. I was even more surprised that the band has almost zero presence on YouTube, hence the lame video above.
Unlike some of the other Music Box attempts, I’m fully on board with Gas Giants. I even put the CD in my car so I can get to know it even better. That’s a big step up from some of those other records’ fate: sitting on the to-donate pile in the corner of our living room.