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Tinted Windows

 

Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
S-Curve Records

I remember, quite vividly, that week back in February of aught-nine, when the Internet found out Tinted Windows was a band. The reactions were hilarious: “Tinted Windows is a band that exists, offers songs,” said Stereogum, while Pitchfork swore the Internet had been the victim of an elaborate gag. Honestly, I was surprised people weren’t even more incredulous about it. James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), Taylor Hanson (Hanson), and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick) in the same band sounds like a reality show on Bravo, and even more like the imaginary super-groups my friends and I used to think up during high school lunch. I’ll come up with one right now: Ryan Adams, Krist Novoselic, Kris Kristofferson, and Paul Schaffer. Band name: The Envelopes. Tell me how that band is any less conceivable than Tinted Windows.

And so this amusing, mind-boggling, ludicrous lineup of all-stars has released a self-titled debut no more than two months after the revelation of their existence. The collective reaction? Mostly silence. There are only about five reviews out there and barely a peep from the blogosphere. What happened? It’s as if the hype died before it could coalesce. Was there no one out there believing in these guys, a band with two savvy, successful vets (Iha, Schlesinger), the comical, mysterious wise man (Bun E.), and the ultimate wild card (Hanson)? I had hope—bizarre conglomerations like this either succeed or fail spectacularly—until I actually listened to the record. And I’m ready to call it: Tinted Windows, Born February 2009 – Died April 2009. They will be missed.

In fairness and consolation, the record doesn’t start falling apart until the third song. Opener and lead single “Kind of a Girl,” as many of have assessed, is at least an average pop song, something in the vein of Weezer’s “Green Album.” The second single, “Messing With My Head,” bounces with sugary goodness, its melodies seemingly implying that Schlesinger is in charge. But it’s on that third track, “Dead Serious,” that reality sets in: Taylor Hanson is singing these songs ...didn’t I want to murder this guy in 6th grade? He didn’t exactly have a golden set of pipes when he was 14, and he may even sound worse at 26: constantly creaking his voice, stressing nearly every word, and coming off as unnecessarily whiny.

From there on, it’s all downhill. “Can’t Get a Read On You” and “Without Love” both come off as Fountains of Wayne retreads that couldn’t even compete to be on the band’s b-sides/rarity record. “Back With You,” an airy ballad that sounds like an Iha changeup, would feel right at home on VH1 circa 2004—a sludgy, Michelle Branch-esque pile of nothingness. While we’re on the subject, the drop-off between James Iha circa 1997 and his Tinted Windows carnation is staggering; your run-of-the-mill high school guitarist could replicate the kind of regurgitated riffs he’s parading out there. The opening riff of Iha-penned “Cha Cha,” feels like something off of a “Guitar Instruction 102 with James Iha” video.

The lyrics, sadly, are so mind-numbingly insipid they have to be lambasted in their own paragraph. I’m all for meaningless prose when it comes to pop music, where melodies and harmonies are king and queen, but the lyrics have to at least exceed the level of “distractingly bad.” “Now that I found you/ Right across the room/You walk on over/The stars come into view,” Hanson moans on “Back With You,” while “We Got Something” offers such heartfelt sentimentalities as “Been so long/But I don't mind /We've got love so strong /It blows my mind.” I suppose those lyrics don’t offend me as much as the hackneyed “stars coming into view” line, but where’s the effort? I imagine Hanson and Iha lying around on a couch made of 20 platinum records. Hanson asks Iha, “Hmm, what rhymes with ‘I don’t mind’?” Iha shrugs, “Uh, ‘it blows my mind?’ I don’t know, man, that’s probably not very good.”

This is a disheartening and disappointing record, especially since Iha and Schlesinger rightfully command respect from casual mainstream listeners and music snobs alike. I hope these venerable vets realize that simply adding distortion to your lead guitar doesn’t constitute “power pop” at this point, that if you’re going to strip all the lovable, idiosyncratic imperfections from the mix, something else – the lyrics, the melodies, the energy – has to peel away from the lifeless drudgery to get us to sing along.

Andy Seifert is a music writer for Newcity Magazine and Decider.com

Comments

I'm surprised if you honestly think that there are "only about five reviews out there and barely a peep from the blogosphere." Do a News search and/or a blog search on Google using the term "Tinted Windows". (You may want to add one of the band member's names in order to filter out all of the police reports of vehicles with windows too heavily tinted.) There's a great variety of reviews, blogs, and opinion, and more gets added each day.

Your opinion of the music is your own, and although I certainly disagree, I'm not going to argue with it. But there is a surprising amount being written about this band, and that's a fact.

I haven't heard the album, so I will withhold comment (though I have reservations about anything involving Taylor Hanson), but this sounds like something I would say, and I will take your word for it. We were consider giving it a review, but I think I will sidestep this one. Thanks for the warning.

That is just ridiculous.

Hey, if someone wants to give me a free, legal copy, I will still give it a listen. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. But I would rather put my money toward something I want, like the new St. Vincent album (which was sold out everywhere I looked today).

Yes, Well very few critcs (myself included) are really on the fence
with this album. Most either hated it or loved it. I gave the album a "6" on www.powerpopaholic.com

It's true, power pop doesn’t go well with skateboards and hoodies or have it's own MTV show. That's because this is an underground cult fan base -- and being such means it's only noticed by mainstream music media, when a group like Tinted Windows gets together. It's a lot like porn actors -- they tend to be ignored until someone makes "Boogie Nights" and it opens up the awareness about how ingrained it is in pop culture. Right now power pop is just not a growing fan base, but a loyal and outspoken niche that get a rare nod when groups like Fountains of Wayne, Collective Soul, Fastball or DelAmitri break into the top ten. This moment will happen again, just not with Tinted Windows.

I wouldn't exactly call Collective Soul "power pop" ...

Yeah man, I know. When I was listening to this record, I kept thinking, "dude, this is a lot like 'Boogie Nights,' if you think about it!"

I'd like to begin by saying that I agree with the author of the review: this album is pitiful. Really, though, I'm not sure how any avid music listener could possibly have high hopes for this album. Hanson? That guy has never released anything good. Schlesinger? Fountains of Wayne has been producing terrible music for years and only had their big single because of the success of such "legends" as The All-American Rejects and Simple Plan (along with the American Pie movies which sensationalized the word "MILF"). Bunnie Carlos from Cheap Trick? I suppose they had good success 25 years ago, but how much influence did the drummer have on song writing? My guess is little to none. And, finally, James Iha. When he was with the Smashing Pumpkins, he wrote the most boring songs on their albums. Billy Corgan is the brain behind that band and there is no question. To me, this bands emergence seems to be as relevant as another Kiss or Cher reunion tour: none.

Oh, and way to use a Weezer reference -- too bad it wasn't off of either of their two albums that deserve a reference.

Is it physically possible for Cher to do a reunion tour?

Hmm I disagree - this album is pretty disappointing but how can you claim to know how had the biggest sway over the writing/recording process in any of their former bands? Also, Taylor Hanson has actually - believe it or not - done some pretty decent records. Hanson's last record was great. I was feeling pretty optimistic about this record based on the member's past records but I was pretty disappointed in the end.

Having said that, I actually got a lift with a friend (who is normally of the highest taste) yesterday and this record is pretty much all he has been listening to in the car for the last 2 weeks. He frickin loves it, and apparently he didn't even know who was in the band?! He just got given a promo copy and loved it. So you never know, maybe Tinted Windows will grow on people. Some people.

Well, to be fair to the reviewer, it's a well-known fact that Corgan held the most sway in the Smashing Pumpkins. And yes, I think you can know who was most influential in the writing and recording of the music (which band member is credited with writing the songs).

Shut up Ben Patterson, you suck.

Not as much as this band.

Yes, I do not like this band either, you should be in it.

I should be, it would raise the talent level significantly.

I would still condemn it. I'm surprised you can do the simple math that allows you to comment on this. Go for a run.

"The death of Tinted Windows has been greatly exaggerated."

All b.s. aside - If people don't like any of the songs on the record - they probably don't like Cheap Trick. Different strokes, granted, but a good pop song isn't a crime. I think the problem with lack of reviews may lie in the following:
1.) People are afraid they'll lose their "indie cred" by admitting they like anything off this record, or anything having to do with a member of former (or current) heart-throbs Hanson.

2.) S-Curve dropped the ball by blowing off (ie: not sending promos or downloads to) potential reviewers, like myself and my blog.

I lost my indie-cred when I came out and said that "First Band on the Moon" was one of the most brilliant pop albums of all time. Mostly, I'm just poor.

Well, there are tons of reviews on various and sundry music blogs. Perhaps S-Curve just missed your particular blog? Unless all of these other bloggers purchased their own copies.

I have to say, I'm having great fun observing the music snobs trying to outdo one another on feigning indignation over this music.

I think this album is fantastic, simple as that.

This review is plain crap in my opinion. I quite like the music on the Tinted Windows album.

God save the Kinks

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