A GUEST POSTING by JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER
So there I was, minding my own business and thinking about bands, when I accidentally fell down the rabbit hole of band members who had side projects. I began listing the ones I liked and realized there are more than enough for a quality ICA–one with some old favorites, hidden gems, and hopefully a song or two no one’s heard before. Of course, it was necessary to impose stiff restrictions: this comp only includes musical projects separate and apart from the musician(s)’s main gig. No prior or subsequent or solo outings. That helped get the numbers down.
I also eliminated some acts because, while they meet the criteria, the music isn’t all that great. For example, two different side projects from Siouxsie & the Banshees fit the bill (The Creatures and The Glove), but those acts just aren’t that listenable. Same thinking behind leaving off The Power Station even though they were extremely eligible. You get the idea.
1. KLARK KENT – Don’t Care.
Klark Kent was the mostly disguised alter ego of Stewart Copeland from The Police. He released an LP of snarky but catchy power-pop before the Cops found megastardom. ‘Don’t Care’ is quintessential new wave, a rockin’ little record I want my jockey to play. Pretty sure Copeland played all the instruments, too.
2. GORILLAZ – Clint Eastwood.
Blur‘s Damon Albarn could have supplied half the tunes on this compilation. In addition to the “virtual band” Gorillaz, he recorded as or with The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Rocket Juice and the Moon, Africa Express, the Heavy Seas, and numerous other solo and collaborative projects outside of his day job. But I really like him as 2-D.
3. EAGLES OF DEATH METAL – Wannabe in L.A.
Like Albarn, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme get around. He’s collaborated with countless acts, notably Them Crooked Vultures with the likes of Dave Grohl and Led Zep icon John Paul Jones. With EoDM he just plays drums, but the band are a blast and this is my favorite song of theirs, from 2008’s Heart On.
4. LOOSE FUR – The Ruling Class.
The good-natured voice of Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy is instantly recognizable, but this is a true side project that only features Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche and Chicago indie legend Jim O’Rourke. This is from their second and, to date, last record Born Again in the USA. That LP was released in 2006. Not sure if there’s anything else forthcoming from Loose Fur.
5. BROKEN BELLS – The High Road.
In which James Mercer, the brains behind The Shins, meets up with Danger Mouse. Like Tweedy (and Albarn), Mercer is instantly recognizable on the mic, but the heavy-duty string section is a departure from his band’s arrangements.
6. TOM TOM CLUB – Genius of Love.
David Byrne got all the attention from Talking Heads because he wrote the lyrics and fronted the band. And was generally a creative genius. But the loveable husband and wife rhythm section Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth had a massive club hit with this number. Still sounds great today almost 40 years later, with the Sweetbreaths (Weymouth’s sisters) on backing vocals.
7. THE SPECIAL GOODNESS – Life Goes By.
Weezer is pretty much all about singer/songwriter/guitarist Rivers Cuomo. But the band was co-founded by drummer Patrick Wilson, who’s been there from the very beginning. Wilson isn’t what you’d call a household name and neither is his band The Special Goodness, with whom he’s released four albums so far. This is from 2003’s Land Air Sea.
8. HINDU LOVE GODS – Raspberry Beret.
It’s Warren Zevon with REM‘s Peter Buck, Bill Berry and Mike Mills, playing a Prince cover. They only released a self-titled LP back in 1990, and a couple of singles including this one.
9. RACONTEURS – Steady, As She Goes.
Even though The White Stripes were flying high in the mid-00’s, winning Grammys for 2003’s Elephant and 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan, Jack White still had things to say. So he connected with Detroit stalwart Brendan Benson (who’s arguably a better songwriter than White) to form Raconteurs, with members of Cincinnati’s Greenhorns. This was the band’s first single and hit.
10. ELECTRONIC – Getting Away With It.
Although Johnny Marr was a free agent in 1989, Bernard Sumner was still throbbing along with New Order. When putting this post together I was surprised to learn that Electronic released three albums. Don’t know if their catalog is any good, but this song’s a winner. (especially, here in its extended from – JC).
BONUS?: Up to you guys and gals. Plenty of bands out there could have been featured; Atoms for Peace, Last Shadow Puppets, Divine Fits, Monsters of Folk among them. I like my 10, but I’m sure I missed a load of songs that I’d like to know about.