Review Summary: A really good sound with lots of untapped potential.
Released at the tip end of the 90's, this is the only album by Gin Blossoms member Robin Wilson's side project The Gas Giants. No, their name has nothing to do with diesel or fart jokes, but rather a reference to a type of planet. This band also features fellow Gin Blossom Philip Rhodes on drums.
Though this may not be a perfect album, the band here is really able to define a unique sound. Between Wilson's pounding rhythm guitar and Dan Herzling's energetic lead guitar, there is really something special here.
This is by far, even to this day, the heaviest music Wilson has ever done. Even his "Hey Jealousy" days don't match the kind of angst-filled moments we see here; albeit, his early 90's stuff was able to channel that angst into something more cathartic. But it's not just the attitude that's heavy, it's also the sound. This is a very loud, fairly noisy album. One exception might be the somewhat less hard "I Hope My Kids Like Marylin Manson"; a poppier, more tame song which captivates the listener with catchy rhythm and interesting subject matter. That this song was never released as a single is a shame because I think it could have been a huge hit.
Still, when it comes to Back Burner's overall sound,"Manson" would be the exception, as most songs in this set are hard and hammering like "Quitter" or "Now The Change". Think a slowed down Green Day; perhaps that would be the way to describe this sound. Wilson's pounding rhythm guitar is the most prevalent thing on the album, but Dan Hanzerling's fast, surf/jam style lead guitar definitely spices up what might have otherwise been a tiresome sound. Indeed, it is the lead guitar that gives us great songs like "Stinkin Up The Charts" and the hooks to tracks like "Quitter", the lead single.
Still, we also see the band incorporate the Gin Blossoms' jangle-pop/power-pop influences in songs like "Letter" and "Going Down", which make clear use of an electric 12-string.
Back Burner ends with an acoustic jam, followed by 45 seconds of silence, then a bunch of random samples and sounds including dogs barking and studio conversation. I'm not really sure what to make of all the nonsense at the end, but the acoustic song, "You're Absolutey" is very good and a strong way to end the album.
I want to give this album a "4" for the band's unique sound and all the rockin' out they do, but there just aren't enough good songs for that. Like so many other albums out there, half the songs are good and half the songs...just aren't. There was definitely some untapped potential here that could have been manifested on a second album. However, that second album was never made, and even if it had been, that would not have changed my rating for this album, which is a 3.5, final verdict.