tinted-windowsThe mark of any great power pop album is its ability to not only stick in your head after the music has stopped, but its ability to make you want to listen to it over and over again. By pop, I mean: Catchy, rocking harmonies, hooky guitars, and driving, powerful drums, a la Cheap Trick, the Raspberries, Sweet and the Knack. Those groups are obvious influences on the self-titled debut album of Tinted Windows, a supergroup of sorts that consists of Taylor Hanson, James Iha (formerly of Smashing Pumpkins), Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, and Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick. Clocking in at just under than 40 minutes, this 11-song collection sounds in no way dated or retro. The band goes after every track with such enthusiasm and energy that the fun they’re having gushes out of the speakers. Tinted Windows just may be this summer’s soundtrack record.

The band came together out of a mutual passion for straight-ahead rock and roll. Schlesinger, Hanson and Iha wrote the songs with one specific rule: no keyboards. This kept the sound a little raw. When it came time for a drummer, all three knew they wanted someone who played like Carlos. Instead of looking for someone like Carlos, they decided to ask the legendary drummer if he’d be interested in participating. Despite his busy schedule, Carlos felt he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play on material he thought was so good.

The leadoff track (and first single), “Kind of a Girl,” has already received some attention from radio and the Internet. However, the rest of the record holds up to the hype that has slowly been building since the song was first released to the public. “Kind of a Girl” is quickly followed by the equally radio-friendly “Messing with My Head,” which features crunchy guitars by Iha and a great sing-along chorus. Meanwhile, “Can’t Get a Read” is a straight-ahead rocker that recalls the best of Cheap Trick, and “Without Love” brings to mind all that was great about the Knack. One of my favorites is “Cha Cha,” a nice little slice of glam rock that ensures Tinted Windows never get mistaken for any of the pop acts Disney’s forever churning out. Even when the band slows things down, on songs like “Dead Serious” and “Back with You,” the aching and earnestness comes off as sincere and not posturing. Although only 26, Hanson has the life experiences (married, four kids) that make what he’s singing so much more believable than the Jonas Brothers or Taylor Swift.

All of the band members shine on this unpretentious collection of rock and roll. Iha, long overshadowed by his former bandmate in the Pumpkins, flings off some wonderful power chords and ringing guitar solos, while Schlesinger’s bass slinks through the songs and his vocals provide perfect harmonies. And of course, Carlos adds his special touch of unobtrusive, yet powerful drumming bringing the whole band together as a unit. With Tinted Windows planning to tour this spring and later in the summer, this is one concert I look forward to. With such a spirited batch of songs and so much enthusiasm by the band, I can only imagine that their live performances will take the music and Tinted Windows to the next level.

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