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There's been some surprising music news in recent days/weeks. A new collaboration between artists (if you choose, read: super group) has been assembled and their first single has shown up over at Rolling Stone. The band is called Tinted Windows and is made up of a... well, lets say unique... range of characters. Band members include: Adam Schelsinger, bassist of Fountains of Wayne; James Iha, ex Smashing Pumpkin, and former touring guitarist with A Perfect circle (if memory serves); Bun E. Carlos, drummer for Cheap Trick; and... Taylor Hanson? (Yes, that Taylor Hanson).
If you're like me, then you probably see this as a rather strange mix of individuals... at least going by the former projects they have been involved in (Especially if you remember Hanson-mania like I do). Sure enough, the initial announcement seemed to be met with quite a fair share of negative comments.
I wasn't really sure what to make of it to be honest. I have a lot of respect for James Iha, I think he's a very talented guitarist... both because of his time with the Smashing Pumpkins and in future endeavors... and so when I hear about a new project he's involved in, I take notice. I never really listened to either Hanson, or Fountains of Wayne, but I do love Cheap Trick, so two of the four seemed like enough that I would check the band out, do my best to reserve judgment as much as possible and judge this band based on their music and not on their past bands.
Tinted Windows' first single has now been issued AND...
Well, unfortunately the commentary I've seen seems almost universally bad. Now I have in no way seen everyone's opinion, or even a sizable chunk I'm sure, but we are talking a decent number of people from a decent number of sources... so... yeah, ouch.
UPDATE: It seems as more comments pour in there are some definitely a few positive ones mixed in, so maybe those initial ones will prove to just be an initial backlash.
It recalls to me though a time when another then ex-Pumpkins (now Pumpkins again) Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin decided to start up a new band with members from other outfits they knew: the ill fated Zwan. I remember seeing lots of bad comments about that bad as well right from the start, and about their first single... complaints about it being "too poppy" and "too radio friendly"... whatever such terms mean. For some reason though, Zwan jumped out at me from day one and to this day I still believe they are HIGHLY underrated, albeit doomed from the start. I even wrote an article for this site proclaiming just that... you can read it here if you want: Misunderstood and Under Appreciated: The Story of Zwan
My point is that first reactions can often be harsh and clouded by preconceived notions when it comes to music (and life in general actually), and so although there's a good number of people panning Tinted Windows already, I implore you to take the music at face value and make up your own decision after hearing the single, and maybe even a few singles, or an album... who knows, they might end up being just as underrated as Zwan... you never know.
Take a listen to the first single, "Kind of a Girl", at Rolling Stone here and see what you think: http://www.rollingstone.com/blogs/smokingsection/2009/02/tinted-windows.php
What do I think about it?
Well, I wish I could say that I was as initially drawn to it as I was when I first heard the afore mentioned Zwan... but that's where my comparison breaks apart. It's not that I don't like the song at all, that would be an overstatement. I actually think it sounds very much like the bands mentioned in the Rolling Stone post: The Buzzcocks, and Cheap Trick... a blend of pop, rock, garage, and a few other styles wrapped up in a very accessible and catchy package.
Iha's guitar work and especially the lead is a high point for me as it seems to have a bit more of a fuzzy, gritty edge than one my expect from this song, giving it just a touch more punk-esque bite than it would otherwise... a good thing. I also DO hear a connection between this song and James' music with the Smashing Pumpkins. That might sound crazy at first, but if you can take a listen to "The Boy" off of the Pumpkins singles set The Aeroplane Flies High... written (and I believe sung as well) by James Iha. Not only is "The Boy" a great track in my book, there definitely seems to be a similarity in the melodic styles and structure... just something to think about.
Overall though, I'm just not feeling this track that much. It's definitely catchy and fun and good straight forward rock and roll, but it's not hitting me and really making me want to keep listening. That might change as I hear more from Tinted Windows, and this song has sparked my interest enough that I will at the very least keep an eye out for more from them, but I'm not going to be counting the days until the album drops.
Still, take these first impressions as just that FIRST IMPRESSIONS, or initial opinions given in the moment, listen to the single and draw your own conclusions. And if you're not liking it from the very first note... well that's ok too, but try to keep comments about the music and not about the respective band members and their former projects. Oh... and keep an open mind, you might hear this song a few more times, or maybe another single from them and be just floored... it's been known to happen so... yeah... keep an open mind.
If you do really dig this track from Tinted Windows, their debut album is scheduled to arrive on April 21, 2009... mark it down.