Evolution of a Hanson fan… and an intro to Tinted Windows

hanson_middleofnowhereHere’s my not-so-secret confession of the day: By the tender age of 12, I was one of the biggest Hanson fans on the planet (the other being my younger sister, of course). We knew all the words by heart; screamed and cried when the blonde-haired brothers appeared on the screen; our bedrooms were adorned with every poster from Teen Beat and Tiger Beat we could get our little hands on. To date, Kate and I have seen the boys in concert more than a half dozen times — and grown up with them, too.

I won’t wax philosophical on you . . . suffice it to say that Hanson has been an absolute constant in my life since Kate and I first saw their “MMMBop” video on VH1 (yes, VH1) in June 1997. We were sitting with our parents in the living room, all of us eating pizza, and my dad said something like “those kids like they’re your age” (how right he was!). More than a decade later, I still lovingly play “Thinking Of You,” “Where’s the Love” and all the newest records over and over (I’m pretty partial to “The Walk”, their latest album, released in 2007). I know my parents and grandparents will recall all those summers I sat around with my Walkman, my grainy “Middle of Nowhere” cassette playing over and over. I had enough Hanson shirts to wear a different one every day for three full school weeks — and frequently did! My best friend Kelly and I would often coordinate them, going with the “green shirt” one day and the “black shirt” the next. We had our own Hanson code — no English necessary. I’ll dedicate a future post to all of our Hanson adventures . . . I have plenty of hilarious stories and blackmail photos to share!

tinted_windowsSo zipping along — 2009! Brothers and bandmates Isaac, Taylor and Zac are all married with kids of their own. (No word yet on just how musically inclined they are, but my money is on very!) Taylor has actually branched out and is lead singer of . . . another band: Tinted Windows. Their debut album was out last Tuesday and, without a second thought, I grabbed that puppy off iTunes. I had no idea what to expect — or even what their sound was like. But if Taylor was the voice of this crew, there was no way my loyalty would wane!

Because let me tell you — Hanson fans? Loyal. Fiercely, embarrassingly loyal. When Kate and I saw them in Falls Church, Va. last year (and then wound up lost in Southeast D.C. trying to get home afterward), I took more than a few elbows to the face as my fellow fans clambored over me to get just a wee bit closer to Isaac’s sweaty face or Taylor’s keyboard.

So I’m listening to Tinted Windows, my heart hammering at the sound of Taylor’s familiar voice filling up my car and iPod. Hanson is my band and I love them as a unit, but honestly — Tay (yeah, after 12 years? We’re on a nickname basis) is the voice I associate with the group. Wherever Taylor goes, I go.

And so I boldly dove into the tunes of Tinted Windows, a band that . . . is awesome! Their music is decidedly upbeat, quirky and fun — and perfect for the summer. I’m so tired of listening to the same stuff over and over again, and I can say for sure that this album will be the one I associate with the summer of 2009. (Uncoincidentally, I associate “The Walk” with summer 2007.) Their single “Kind Of A Girl” is a great song to crank up and sing in the sunshine . . . which is exactly what I did while driving to see my best friend on Saturday. The sun was out, the air hot and windy, sunglasses were on, windows were down . . . I’m young, alive and free. It’s the sort of fun, energetic music that reminds you to be in the moment — to stay here and now, remembering everything that’s good and awesome about the world.

Okay, I know. I promised I wasn’t going to wax philosophical! But when it comes to books and music, it’s hard for me not to get all . . . squishy on you.

So back to the songs. We have eleven of them — twelve, if you get the bonus track from iTunes. The thing that really surprised me was the lack of anything “slow” — another reason it’s a great warm-weather album. Nothing to bring you down here. My favorites are definitely “Messing With My Head,” “Dead Serious” and “Back With You” — the classic combination of awesome lyrics, great rhythm and energetic appeal.

I’m pretty much in love with it.

Rock on, gentlemen.

Check out the album on Amazon or visit the band’s official page.

The Fray found me

The Fray's new albumAfter a false start or two with my iTunes (which was quickly resolved by Terry, a kind-hearted and professional Apple support team member!), I finally have The Fray’s new album! I went through the whole “to download or not to download” quandry for a day, then decided that it’s 2009, I usually throw jewel cases out anyway and I really, really wanted the album right now — I’m big on instant gratification! So I paid my $9.99 and let that puppy magically appear on my laptop.

This morning I bounced around in my car on my way to work, excited and happy and exhilirated! I love the Fray. I’ve seen them in concert twice, and each time was a borderline religious experience for me! Music can do that, and be that for people. It’s like that for me.

I’ve only quickly skimmed through all the tracks to get a “lay of the land,” if you will, but so far my favorite is still their single, “You Found Me.” It’s haunting and catchy, if that’s possible, and proves to me all over again how genius they are! I read a review on iTunes saying that this sophomore album is basically “How To Save a Life, Part II,” but I’m more than all right with that — and the reviewer was, too. They have a sound, a following, a message and have had success with all of that — I wouldn’t want to mess up a good thing, either!

“You Found Me”
The Fray

I found God
On the corner of First and Amistad
Where the west
Was all but won
All alone
Smoking his last cigarette
I said, “Where you been?”
He said, “Ask anything.”

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I will let go if you will let go

I picked up Ben Folds’ new album Way to Normal earlier in the week — after I’d earned my Borders Bucks! I really became a Ben fan after meeting my boyfriend two years ago, though I’ve loved the Ben Folds Five song “Brick” since I first saw the disorienting video for it sometime in 1997. There’s something beautiful and haunting about his music — something real. I know I’ve blogged about it before, but it always bears repeating.

I’m loving “Cologne” — it’s such a beautiful, simple song. And, as always, it’s like one swift kick to the heart. I can’t get enough of those moments where you’re listening to something innocently — maybe driving along in your car, maybe on your iPod at work — and a tiny bubble of realization hits you: this is a song that could very well change your life. I know other people feel like that, too. This song will change the way you see yourself, the way you see others — this song will change the way you view relationships past and relationships yet to unfold.

Ben Folds has a lot of songs like that.

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