Hanson celebrated the completion of its much-anticipated new album, "This Time Around," by throwing an exclusive listening party for the record at MTV's Times Square Studios in New York City on Friday night.Hosted by MTV News' Brian McFayden, Isaac, Taylor, and Zac Hanson invited winners from radio contests across the U.S. to preview the new album at the listening party, which could also be accessed by logging onto MTV.com. Prior to playing the first song from the record, the slickly rollicking "You Never Know," Taylor said that even though he wasn't nervous about unveiling "This Time Around" for fans, the experience felt a lot like hosting a dinner party. "All the food is there and you're waiting for people to try it, and you can tell by the expressions on their faces [whether they like it or not], and if they [grimace] or go, 'Yeah, that's pretty good.'" By the time the second track, "If Only," kicked in with its turntable scratches and a fiery harmonica
lead, courtesy of Blues Traveler's John Popper, whatever butterflies Hanson may have had beforehand had flown away, as Zac danced backstage and rough-housed with members of the band's entourage.McFayden introduced "This Time Around," the first single from the new album, with "All right, this is ladies' choice," as Taylor figuratively switched instruments to play air-drums during the "TRL" fave. In between songs, Hanson fielded questions from audience members and those submitted by online participants, including what music and groups they were currently listening to (the Black Crowes, Macy Gray, and Chuck Berry) to what type of guitar strings Isaac uses (11-48's) and how often he breaks them. Isaac put the guitar strings to good use on a blistering solo on "Runaway Run," a song that demonstrated Hanson's preference for a slightly leaner and meaner sound. But tracks such as "Save Me" and "Love Song" also showed that the band hasn't turned its back on the three-part harmonies
that remain the real crux of Hanson's sound, either.As the mid-tempo new ballad "Dying To Be Alive" kicked into gear, several members of the audience stood up and began dancing and swaying, and Hanson even treated the audience to a live a capella intro to "I Wish That I Was There." During "Sure About It" and "Hand In Hand," Isaac, Zac, and Tay wandered into the studio audience, shaking fans' hands, and chatted and joked with them as the music filtered through the room. In the final interview segment, Hanson recounted some of the titles they passed over before choosing "This Time Around," including "If Only" and "24 Hour Breakfast." The band also discussed how it enlisted the aid of John Popper and guitarist Jonny Lang on another track, "In The City," which evoked elements of Isaac Hayes' and the late Curtis Mayfield's brand of '70s urban soul and rock. "John Popper actually approached us," Taylor said. "He phoned us up and said, 'Man if you ever need someone to
play harmonica on a track, I'd totally be into doing it.' And we were all like, 'Yeah, sure! Of course.'"After the final number, "A Song To Sing," had faded out, ebullient fans talked about the new album and comparisons between "This Time Around" and Hanson's 1997, major-label debut, "Middle Of Nowhere." "I like [the new LP] because it's a lot different than 'Middle Of Nowhere'" offered 17-year-old Ocie Winter from Norwich, Connecticut. "Aside from the voices, which are still great, the album has a lot more of a rock sound to it and less of just the pop songs." Hanson's "This Time Around" is due in stores on May 9.