In the hands of smart guys, trebly, chiming guitars and spare, certain melodies took divergent paths in ancient days toward the Byrds' clear skies and the Velvet Underground's blue-lit alleys. R.E.M., of course, fused the directions in the '80s, creating a freeway that soon became crowded. Arizona's Gin Blossoms approach the Athens, Ga., demigods with the reverence popsters used to accord the Beatles, but so smartly have they absorbed the influence that "New Miserable Experience" sounds both fresh and highly personal. Robin Wilson's a confident, engaging singer; "Hey Jealousy" is manna for radio; and the ease with which this quintet casts hooks suggests that there's plenty more in store.
Ireland's Cranberries share a similar gift for entrancing tunefulness but with Dolores O'Riordan's vocal audacity (catch her quasi-Moroccan moaning on "Dreams"). They're the deeper, dreamier unit. "Linger" and its orchestration hint at the group's musical ambition; guitarist Noel Hogan is a resourceful melodist
(Posted: Jul 17, 1997)