You've heard that "Sublime Is Cool Again," but did you hear that Hootie & the Blowfish is a "Great American Rock Band (Yes, Really)"? That's the headline of Jon Caramanica's new New York Times article on the band, which comes with the subheadline: "Twenty-five years after the group’s pop supernova 'Cracked Rear View,' it’s time for a reassessment."

Here's an excerpt of Caramanica's reassessment:

Let me stop here to emphasize a truth that has gone unsaid for too long: At its peak, Hootie & the Blowfish was a genuinely excellent band. Earthen, soothing, a little ragged. And also deft, flexible and unflashily skilled. It splendidly blended the Southern college rock of the late 1980s (the dBs, R.E.M.) with shades of vintage soul, bluegrass, blues and more, rendering it all with omnivorous-bar-band acuity. In the gap between late grunge and the commercial rise of hip-hop and rap-rock, Hootie was a balm.

This is perhaps one of the last unpopular opinions. Hootie has hovered in a critical no man’s land for decades — not a cause célèbre for progressive young thinkers, not outré enough in its day enough to merit reassessment. Especially in the 1990s, when subculture was brand, Hootie’s evident (but misleading) plainness was a team no one wanted to bat for. (There was also the dismal, unforgettable name, an amalgam of two college friends’ nicknames. A residue nothing could wash off.)

[...] And so even though Hootie had some compatriots — Gin Blossoms, Dave Matthews Band, Toad the Wet Sprocket — in the retrospectives of the 1990s, it became a footnote, a casualty of a war it never asked to fight. Unlike other pop success stories that critics later fumbled over themselves to ascribe meaning to, or to divine meaning beneath during the more pop-friendly critical environs of the 2000s, Hootie remained unloved, if thought of at all.

Not anymore: It’s time to bring Hootie in from the cold.

You can read the rest here.

Whether or not you agree that Hootie is a "great American rock band," there is no denying they've stayed popular. As Caramanica's article points out, they're upcoming comeback tour with Barenaked Ladies includes two Madison Square Garden shows.