What do the Smashing Pumpkins, Cheap Trick, Fountains Of Wayne and Hanson have in common? The answer is Tinted Windows.
Supergroups usually consist of musicians popular in the same era, who have similar backgrounds and resumes. Tinted Windows are an exception. They reached across styles and eras.
The group began as a collaboration between Taylor Hanson and Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne). Let's see, a one-time power pop singer and a songwriter from a respected but not very commercial band. To Schlesinger's credit he did compose the Oscar-nominated theme for "That Thing You Do!" which was in a film about a '60's pop band.
The pair enlisted ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. The Pumpkins were one of Grunge's mainstays - right there with Nirvana and Pearl Jam - and had little in common with the pop-oriented Hanson.
Turns out, Schlesinger was the catalyst. "Taylor and I had always talked about trying to do something together," said Schlesinger, "maybe write some songs, or play some shows - something." On the other side, Fountains Of Wayne often opened for the Pumpkins. Iha and Schlesinger subsequently worked together on a number of projects.
When the question of who should play drums came up there was a telling consensus. They needed to get a drummer who played like Bun E. Carlos. Both the Pumpkins and Fountains Of Wayne had shared the stage with Cheap Trick and had come away mighty impressed.
So why not just ask Carlos? It was a long shot but it turned out he was up for it.
So the cross generational/style meshing Tinted Windows came to be. The group's self-titled debut came out in '09. Carlos, the last to join, provided the first review. "The songs are great and I'm honored to be a part of Tinted Windows."
So what does Tinted Windows mean for its members? For Hanson, it pulls him out of the "MMMBop" ghetto. Working with credible musicians without having to change much is a major coup. Schlesinger is in a band that might actually make some money. Carlos gets to go on stage without being expected to play "I Want You To Want Me." Iha is in a little tougher spot. Granted Hanson and Schlesinger are probably easier to work with than Billy Corgan but his work here won't make anyone forget Smashing Pumpkins.
Tinted Windows is well-crafted power-pop. Lyrically, it's all about relationships - which is exactly where they should be. Hanson tries to channel Corgan on "Back With You" but both he and the audience are better served when he plays to his strengths. "Kind Of A Girl" is irresistible. " "Cha Cha," "We Got Something" and "Can't Get A Read On You" are nearly as good.