Last Of The Shadow Puppets
NME readers voted in their droves for Alex Turner’s slick, stylish Arctic Monkeys spin-off with friend Miles Kane. Their 2008 debut ‘Age of the Understatement’ was in the words of reader David Henley “a bare-knuckled indie triumph – how does album number two stack up?
Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst revived his punkier, difficult-to-pronounce side-project last year, coming to the UK to play their album, ‘Read Music/Speak Spanish’. “Picture The Pixies crossed with Weezer. What a creation,” says reader Molly Richards.
Formed in 1986, Sebadoh is the grungey, bombastic creation of Dinosaur Jr. bassist Lou Barlow. The live shows, according to reader Josh Williams, are “wonderfully erratic” and “mind-blowing to witness.”
Now here’s a super group side-project: Jack White (The White Stripes), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (The Greenhornes) formed the Dead Weather in 2009, releasing two studio albums. Thanks to Danny Fullbrook for the pick.
Tom Tom Club
Husband and wife Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads formed this synthy new wave ensemble back in 1981, continuing with most recent festival appearances up till last year. ‘Genius of Love’ is “quite frankly the best song ever. Not once have I ever listened to this song and stayed still,” says Tim Wood.
Watch The Throne
Jay-Z and Kanye West’s 2011 joint venture lived up to its blockbuster billing. “The biggest hip-hop album of the last decade? Quite possibly,” says Gary Stills.
Meeting in 2008 during a North American tour, producers Hudson Mohawke and Lunice only released one EP, but managed to influence an entire new wave of trap, dance and rap fusion. “Banging!” says Ryan Robinson.
The Good, The Bad and The Queen
Produced by Danger Mouse, this super group, comprised of Damon Albarn, Simon Tong (The Verve), and Paul Simonon (The Clash), gets Harry King’s vote. Their single album to date is a concept album based on modern life in London.
After giving birth to her second child, The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson got to work on this side-project capturing the lucid semi-conscious mind state of a new parent. Reader Bryan Byczek says: “just another perspective on Karin’s twisted world-view.”
How To Destroy Angels
Featuring the mighty Trent Reznor, his wife Mariqueen Mandig, Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan, this collaboration began in 2010. Cheers to reader Natalie Pearson for the suggestion.
Danger Mouse and Shins main man James Mercer have been concocting lucid synth pop together since 2009. A Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album was awarded to their 2010 self-titled debut, which reader Michael Truesdale says “makes me feel like I’m on a grand adventure.”
Deftones frontman Chino Moreno credits the mysterious tales of Edgar Allen Poe as the main influence on this side-project. Starting out as friends trading mixtapes, Team Sleep advanced into writing their own songs and now have two albums. Reader Norman Haberer says: “great voice by Chino, deep lyrics! And insane music!”
Killers drummer Ronnie Vanucci’s solo side-project produced a 2010 album “better than the last couple of Killers albums – absolutely brilliant,” according to Haydn Wilcox.
Them Crooked Vultures
What do you get when you combine John Paul Jones of Led Zepellin, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age? Why, a rock side-project of brutal heaviness and gargantuan hooks, of course! Their sole record to date is a “great album, the work of three geniuses at work” says Jenny Taylor.
Foxboro Hot Tubs
This Green Day side project sees all three band members collaborate with Kevin Preston of Prima Donna. Though their sound is altogether to Green Day’s, Billie Joe Armstrong’s vocals are unmistakable as ever. Reader Matt Houldsworth puts it simply: “Foxboro Hot Tubs… Need I say more?”
The Postal Service
Death Cab for Cutie vocalist Ben Gibbard began working on this electro-pop spin-off in 2001, delivering an all-American classic in the shape of 2003’s ‘Give Up’. Reader Pippa Davies is “so disappointed they never came out with a second album, but there’s still there’s hope for the future”.
Spawned from bands Thursday, Glassjaw and Converge, this scream super group saw Geoff Rickly, Daryl Palumbo and Ben Koller merge in 2005. Reader Peter Marsh hopes “there will be more from this band in the future, I love the influence of mid 90’s hardcore punk in their tracks”.
The Black Keys teamed with eleven different hip-hop artists, including Wu Tang’s Raekwon, and RZA, for this project. The resulting album featured tapes of the deceased ODB, which reader Sian Fraser remarks “was an exciting glimpse at what could have been.”
Another project from the twisted psyche of Nick Cave, Grinderman were originally known as the Mini Seeds – a nod to Cave’s Bad Seeds. Their two no-nonsense titled albums, ‘Grinderman’, and ‘Grinderman 2’, are “more raw than anything produced by the Bad Seeds” according to reader Jenny Fletcher.
Keith Murphy describes Jack White’s Raconteurs as “another way for White to unleash his creativity.” He’s got plenty of the stuff, that’s for sure.
Previously known as Delorean with an album focusing on the life story of American automobile engineer John Delorean, Neon Neon’s a collaboration between producer Boom Bip and Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals. “Gruff Rhys doing 80s-inflected pop and hip-hop rather bizarre and delightful,” writes reader Jamie Edgar Dunn.
Monsters of Folk
Made up of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, and Zooey Deschanel’s She & Him partner M. Ward, supergroup Monsters of Folk do exactly what it says on the tin. “It’s not classic folk – there’s an edge,” says Paul Thompson.
The Killers’ bassist embarked on his solo side-project in 2009 to release debut ‘Another Life’. The 12-song strong record took two years to complete, but was well worth the wait for reader Stijn van Orsouw: “It’s something completely different from The Killers, but ‘Another Life’ is a beautiful album!”
It’s weird to think now, but the untouchable Pavement began as a Silver Jews spin-off for Stephen Malkmus, who formed the two bands around the same time in 1989. Shout out to reader Beth Price for the suggestion.
Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox has been experimenting with lo-fi sounds on the side since 2008 debut in Atlas Sound. Debut ‘Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel’ compiled some of Cox’s strangest life experiences into hazy pop songs and, as reader Liam Parker points out, “was totally excellent.”
Formed in 1990 by the Pixies’ Kim Deal and Throwing Muses’ Tanya Donelly, the Breeders have released four influential full-lengths – the first of which, ‘Pod’, is the pick of the bunch for reader Becky Taylor: “the best of all their albums, it really gets the best of their sound.”
No conversation about awesome side-projects is complete without a mention of Damon Albarn’s brilliant, innovative cartoon sound-clashers. Patrick Swanton agrees: “So fucking good!”
Another Deerhunter side project! Lotus Plaza have been beavering away since 2009, creating sprawling Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine influenced indie. Cheers to Lucy Parkin for the suggestion.
Eagles of Death Metal
Anything involving magnetic Queen of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme is gonna be good, right? Jordan Knox says Homme is “not the best on the drums but EODM’s songs are pretty cool.”
Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl took on a heavy metal side project in Probot in 2003, enlisting his favourite heavy metal vocalists. Reader Colin Campbell’s favourite collaboration on the record? The appearance of Motorhead’s Lemmy. “Dave and Lemmy really shake my blood,” he says.
If there were any justice in the world, Gary Lightbody’s Reindeer Section side-project would be much bigger than Snow Patrol. Unfortunately, the planet earth is a dark cruel place and this more folky, leftfield folk ensemble remain a cult concern. Ho hum. Thanks to Brian Swann for the tip.
Biffy Clyro being one of the hardest touring bands on the planet, you could forgive Simon Neil for spending any well-earned downtime on a beach, supping from a coconut, leisurely working his way through a Suduko puzzle. But oh no. In 2003, he formed this high-concept rock outfit renowned for their raucous live shows. Thanks to James Spencer for reminding us of ’em.
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver features in this group of hazy electronic experimenters, whose ‘Unmap’ is, in the words of NME reader David Turnball, “just as soothing as anything Bon Iver have put out, and a bit more out there.”
The Birds of Satan
“You’ve gotta love a bit of Taylor Hawkins,” wrote NME reader Simon Geduzan of the Foos sticksman’s recent rocket-fuelled side-project. You’re not wrong, Simon.
Mariachi El Bronx
“Their Prince cover [‘I Would Die 4 U’] is the greatest thing ever. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bronx at their noisey normal selves, but their alter-egos are amazing!” wrote Prakash Jayholtra of the hardcore outfit’s Mariachi side-project. No complaints with that pick here, Prakash.
City and Colour
Dallas Green (see what he did with the name there?) started his folk band as a quieter outlet from the mayhem of post-hardcore crew Alexisonfire. “Love Alexis, but ‘The Girl’ is timeless songwriting,” says Gregory Daniels.
Father John Misty
Beginning life as an offshoot of Seattle folkers Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty soon revealed itself to be a way weirder proposition, full of deranged, drug-fuelled tales of life on the edge. Tip of the hat to Jen Imiaso for that suggestion.
Department of Eagles
Can’t get enough of Grizzly Bear? Good job there’s plenty of side-project action to soak up from its members, then. Bassist Chris Taylor’s CANT project is a futuristic disco delight, and there’s no knocking Daniel Rossen’s solo stuff, but for NME reader Jo Wandsworth, there’s no beating the “simply stunning” Department of Eagles.
A Perfect Circle
Last but not least, we arrive Maynard James Keenan’s Tool side-project, A Perfect Circle. Less dark and proggy, more introspective and trippy, “perfect is the right word” according to NME reader John Brastento.