Supergroup Showcase: Tinted Windows

TINTED WINDOWS
THE PLAYERS: Taylor Hanson on vocals (Hanson), James Iha on guitar (Smashing Pumpkins), Adam Schlesinger on bass (Fountains of Wayne, Ivy) and Bun E. Carlos on drums (Cheap Trick).
THE STORY: According to the band’s site, Adam and Taylor have been friends for a while as have Adam and James. The three of them got together and wanted to find a drummer like Bun and eventually asked the man himself and he agreed. They recorded a self-titled album which came out in April of 2009 and toured. It seems the members have gone their separate ways since last year as there haven’t been any updates on the site.
OFFICIAL SITE: TintedWindowsMusic.com

Holy crap I love this record, you guys. I bought it along with the wildly disappointing Transplants record and Blind Faith’s record, but this one really blew me away. It’s not only one of my favorite supergroup records of all time, but quickly becoming one of my favorite records period. It’s kind of the perfect storm of a group for me to like. I am a gigantic Fountains Of Wayne fan, so Schlesinger’s involvement is cool, plus I know he and Iha have been on each others’ records and even own a recording studio together. I’ve discovered an appreciation for Hanson’s vocals recently and who doesn’t like Cheap Trick? So this is definitely a case of great tastes tasting great together.

Overall the record has a very power pop/rock vibe to it that oftentimes veers very closely to FOW territory (the opening riff of “Kind of a Girl” sounds almost identical to that of FOW’s “Little Red Light” off of Welcome Interstate Managers), but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Back when I first discovered FOW, I would describe them to my friends as “what pop music should sound like” (this was in the early days of Britney and NSYNC) and that’s exactly what this Tinted Windows disc is. Hanson’s got one of those great, higher range voices that makes perfect sense when heard singing about girls (which seem to be the subject of most of the songs on the record), but also can get a good growly bluesy thing going on. I defy you to listen to this record without tapping your foot or bobbing your head. Even after just a few listens, I felt very comfortable and familiar with the record, singing along with the songs in my car. These songs won’t blow your mind, but they will make you want to move. I really like to think about what these guys would talk about when they were just sitting around shooting the shit. On paper the group sounds so strange. The guitar player from the Smashing Pumpkins, one of the Hanson kids, a guy from Fountains of Wayne and the Cheap Trick drummer, but it all works out on the record with everyone giving into their lust for pop rock gems.

I’ve listened to a lot of supergroup records while working on this column and while this one isn’t the first I’ve liked, it is the one I’ve enjoyed the most. I really dig listening to the Wilburys, but, in the end, that sounds like a combination of dudes I can pull out. That’s Dylan, that’s Roy. With Tinted Windows, the whole record sounds not only like a band I want to have a hundred more records from, but also one that seems incredibly cohesive and polished. This is a unit not just a lot  If you like pop, rock or pop rock, I can’t recommend a record more than this one. Then go get yourself some FOW and Cheap Trick records and maybe even give Iha’s 1998 solo record Let It Come Down which, as you might expect Schlesinger appeared on.

Songs Of Summer “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin'” by Hanson

I get sick of pop music pretty quickly nowadays. I try watching VH1 in the morning sometimes just to see what new videos are coming out to talk about on the blog, but after several weeks of the same crap earlier this summer I had to step away. Today I watched an hour of videos, most of which I hadn’t seen, and came across this rad Hanson song (14-year-old TJ just threw up in his mouth a little bit in the past and has no idea why). It’s a great soul song by the former MMMboppers which shows off not only their solid musicianship but also their good taste in faithfully recreating the Ray Charles music shop scene from the classic Blues Brothers (and yes, that’s Weird Al playing tambourine for some reason). It’s a clean, bouncy hit, that defies you not to bob your head along to the beat.

Cool, right? Anyway, a few years back I heard one of Hanson’s then-new singles and I was pretty impressed with the guitar work which made me realize they’re actually solid musicians. This song definitely takes them out of the pop realm (at least the current pop realm) and puts them in a different musical arena that actually involves musicianship. I’m hoping this 70s soul-inspired thing really takes off because that’s some of the all time best music ever. I know it’s late in the season, but hopefully “Thinking ‘Bout Sometin'” can take the place of one of those awful songs I’ve heard a thousand times on the missus’ pop stations. Damn, you really can’t go wrong with a strong horn section!