James Iha, ‘To Who Knows Where’ – Song Review
The last time James Iha released a solo album, Bill Clinton was in the White House, 'Titanic' was ruling the Hollywood box office and Iha himself was still a member of '90s alternative goliaths Smashing Pumpkins. His position in the band would not last much longer -- the Pumpkins had a nasty split in the year 2000, only to reunite a few years later with none of the original members beyond frontman Billy Corgan -- but even with all that free time it still took Iha 14 years to finally finish his second solo set, 'Look to the Sky.'
If first single 'To Who Knows Where' is a sign of things to come, it was worth the wait. Whereas 1998's 'Let It Come Down' was a little too stripped down for its own good, 'Knows Where' is lush and fully fleshed out, with a myriad of influences expertly melded into a single song. A little taste of Pumpkins is apparent straight off the bat in the spacey, flanged out guitars, but there's much more to it than alternative rock redux.
The breezy, laid back pop atmosphere almost could be compared to some of the more restrained tunes by Iha's Tinted Windows project, and there is definitely a quaintly psychedelic vibe going on as well. By the time Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara joins in to help with vocals, the instrumentation is so dense, it's hard to tell just what is being played and what is being sung -- and that's definitely a good thing. Credit the productions skills of Nathan Larson, formerly of beloved indie rockers Shudder to Think, whose skills as a sonic manipulator brings it all together.
'To Here Knows Where' is no Pumpkins hit, and it doesn't try to be. Iha penned only the occasional tune during his time in the band, but it's songs like this one that show perhaps he could've contributed more than just his guitar skills -- if only Corgan gave him the chance.
Listen to James Iha's 'To Who Knows Where'