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ROCK SCENE

Tint's true colors

Even though his band the Tint has a totally different sound, singer-guitarist Evan Ouellette and Co. draw inspiration from the adventurous roots-pop group Wilco.

"We're big fans of those guys, and the four of us are really drawn to the way they approach their craft," Ouellette says. "They're not really pop gods to look at: They're kind of scruffy and out of shape, and, if you saw them on the street, you probably wouldn't look twice at them. But they're a band that always challenges themselves to make the best record they can and uses that [approach] as a guide."

The last part of that sentiment might also be said about the members of Tint, who look neither scruffy nor out of shape on the back cover of their new release, "The 11th Hour EP." This brainy Boston-based pop band of four former ska-punks joined forces after their old outfits folded a few years ago. A well-received 2002 debut album, "The Captain," was recorded in bits and pieces during whatever time they could grab in the studio.

The new EP, which comes out Tuesday on the upstart Cambridge indie label Primary Voltage, shows a broader range of moods and wider sonic palette that (pardon the pun) tints the band's bright neo-New Wave songs with darker colors this time around.

Ouellette's vocal style is one of smooth, radio-friendly earnestness, but an undercurrent of unease and dislocation threads through seemingly straightforward alt-rock tracks such as the keyboard-driven "Bad Mood" or the fuzz-toned electric guitar noise of "Splinter."

Elsewhere, hints of Wurlitzer, electronic loops, and moody synth lines shape the material. All told, the Tint -- Michael Geher (bass), Sean Greene (drums), and Sean Will (keyboards), and Ouellette -- covers a lot of ground in six songs that clock in at just under 25 minutes. Listeners will be able to sample the new material live at the band's EP-release party Dec. 11 at the Middle East Upstairs. The bill also includes performances by Baby Ray, the Charms, and Fooled By April.

"I deliberately don't want us to be a one-trick pony," says Ouellette, whose stage name, Evan Evans, was hatched partly as a joke to quell his bandmates' grumbling that his last name had "too many vowels."

"The guys in the band are incredibly capable musicians, and there's a weird part to being a songwriter where you start to subconsciously write songs that the band will really be able to shine on," he says. "I think that's starting to come through with this EP. It's incredibly satisfying when you go into a rehearsal, are excited about having a new song, and the guys you bring it to give something back and take it to a whole new level -- maybe something different than what you had envisioned, but something equally great."

SHOW INFORMATION
Tint
Tint plays the Middle East on Dec. 11 with Baby Ray, the Charms, and Fooled By April. Tickets are $9. For more information, call 617-864-3278.
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