Friday, May 1, 2009

Review of Tinted Windows' Self-Titled Debut Using the Scientific Method (Not Really)


Tinted Windows is a "supergroup" consisting of members who have played/current are playing in notable rock bands. The singer is the all growsd up kid from Hanson, a band that apparently has a post-"MMMbop" career and following. The guitarist is prodigal Pumpkin James Iha, who gets to actually record his guitar with this band. Okay, that's not fair: If you listen to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the guitar parts that are either Tom Morello-bizarre (the whammy on "Zero") or aren't wannabe Eddie Van Halen licks (that's Billy Corgan!) are probably James'. The bass player/majority songwriter is Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne who gave us "Stacy's Mom" and wrote the music for the fake band in the movie That Thing You Do. The drummer is Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick. If you don't at least tap your toes to a Cheap Trick song, then you have no soul.


For Generation Xers past 40 and similarly aging Post-Xers/Pre-Yers, Tinted Windows is the Jonas Brothers it's okay to like. Your kids (or your friend's kids) will wonder why these old folk sound like the Jonas Brothers. Your parents and/or grandparents will school you about real poppy sounding, bubblegum rock 'n roll from the '50s and '60s. Then the Big Crunch will happen.


Billy Corgan's fans will say (and have said), WTF? Iha's fans will go, "Take that, Billy Corgan!" I have no idea what the Hanson fans' consensus is. Schlesinger's fans would praise his pop songwriting powers. Cheap Trick fans can't wait for Cheap Trick's summer tour.

From the interviews and strange marketing (a pseudo-80s late night show for the first two singles), it seems like the band members had fun recording the album, and it looks like they want to keep it fun. We might see a sequel to the self-titled album if there's another main band downtime for all members, and if there isn't the time - it's likely there's not going to be a supergroup acrimonious meltdown like Zwan, Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, etc.


In lieu of a good alien abduction and probing, I'm just going to talk a little bit about the songwriting. (The performances of all four members are solid, by the way.) At times, there might be a little too much "whoa, whoa" and "c'mon, c'mon" for some. Other than three tracks, the songwriting is mostly Schlesinger's, and the hooks mostly stick (which may or may not be a good thing). Taylor Hanson's contributions, "Nothing to Me" and "Take Me Back" (co-written with Schlesinger), sound on par with Schlesinger's pop rock style.

Iha's "Cha Cha" is kind of weird. (Hey! The previous statement is a bizarre entendre!) It's weird in that, it's almost a paint-by-numbers twelve-bar quasi-blues, surrounded by more-or-less paint-by-numbers pop rock.

In contrast, Iha's "Back with You" is my personal favorite on the album. With Iha's signature atmospheric EBow/feedback work, it's basically the sequel to "Go" from Machina II. I hope that there is a rough demo of "Back with You" with Iha's vocals out there. I just might tweet an @ message to @TintWind with that question.

They'll probably ignore me.

In conclusion, I'll probably not review anything again like a high school biology post-lab write-up (but never say never). In any case, here's my verdict: Tinted Windows is a mildly amusing spin, especially if you're a fan of one or more the the band's elements. After the first couple of spins, feel free to leave the songs active in iTunes/your mp3 player, as any song will make good filler during a shuffle music listening session. Is it worth buying a physical CD to take physical space in your home? Probably not. Buy the mp3 or AAC version instead.

Since AmazonMP3 didn't give the album a deep discount when it was first released, this is one of the few times to go to iTunes for your digital delivery needs: You'll get a bonus track (ironically about cassette tapes) and a PDF of the liner notes for about a dollar more than the AmazonMP3 price.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I'm 45 and enjoying the TW CD. And yes, I have the CD because I like the physical feel of the shiny round thing I put in my car and somehow music miraculously plays. Ain't technology just grand? I have an iPod Touch, but still prefer CD's if I want to listen to an entire release of an artist.

    My 8 and 10 yr old daughters dig TW, even though they don't know any of the musicians in the band. A few days ago they asked me to play "Kind of a Girl" over and over again. So, it seems they have the female teenybopper vote.


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