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CD review: James Iha 'Look to the Sky'

CD review: James Iha ‘Look to the Sky'
Published: September 21, 2012


James Iha ‘Look to the Sky' (The End)

Former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha may have been slow in coming up with a sophomore solo album, but “Look to the Sky” was worth the 14-year wait for those who appreciate his un-Pumpkin-like penchant for '60s-style folk-pop and '70s-influenced soft rock.

He hasn't been idle since his 1998 solo debut “Let It Come Down” by any stretch, joining the ranks of metallic prog-rockers A Perfect Circle (featuring Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan) in 2003, and forming the alt-pop supergroup Tinted Windows in 2009 with Tulsa's Taylor Hanson (Hanson), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne, Ivy) and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick).

The music on “Look to the Sky” continues in the easy-touch vein Iha seems to favor, from the cosmically breezy acoustic-electric guitar and electronic keyboard-fueled single “Speed of Love,” through the irresistibly melodic and chiming “Till Next Tuesday,” the melancholy, synthesizer-sheened, Blue Nile-influenced “Summer Days” and the ornately orchestrated Simon and Garfunkel-ish “Dream Tonight” to the yearning, steel guitar-shaded sunset ballad “4th of July.”

With such like-minded guest artists as Schlesinger, Television's Tom Verlaine, Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara, Nina Persson of the Cardigans and Sparklehorse, and Karen O and Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs lending support, how could this album be anything other than a treasure trove of tasty twilight tunefulness?

— Gene Triplett


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