2015: Year of the sheep. Year of light. Year of the side project?

 

Side projects offer artists a unique opportunity to step away from their primary projects and experiment with different styles and reduced pressure. Whilst they’ve always been an integral part of the musical landscape, this year we’ve seen an explosion of quality side projects which give their original bands a run for their money.

We tracked down nine of our favourites, ranging from the famous to the obscure, to see how the new compares to the original.

The Dead Weather

Perhaps the biggest side project on this list, The Dead Weather can be easily described as a supergroup as well as a side project. The band includes some of rock’s heaviest hitters such as Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and his solo work), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs).

Although The Dead Weather features a fuller sound than The Kills, Mosshart’s howling vocals are easily recognisable between the two.

The New:

The Original:

Eagles of Death Metal

Another well-known side project are Eagles of Death Metal, comprised of Boots Electric (aka  Jesse Hughes) and Joshua Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). Although now associated with the tragic events in Paris, Eagles are one of the hardest working side projects, having released four albums since 2004. They mix together a bizarre yet infectious blend of garage, blues and desert rock with playful lyrics.

Particularly interesting for comparison is Boots’ original take on ‘Complexity’, played live in London two years before being repurposed as Eagles of Death Metal’s latest single.

The New:

The Original:

 

Thunderbitch

Getting into less well-known territory are Thunderbitch, the side project of Alabama Shakes’ lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard. Thunderbitch sees Howard abandoning the soulful sound of Alabama Shakes’ second album for a rougher and louder crack at garage rock.

The New:

The Original:

#1 Dads

Generating buzz across Australia at the moment is #1 Dads, the solo side project of Tom Iansek (Big Scary). #1 Dads managed to sell out a record breaking 5 consecutive shows at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory, surely an indicator of impressive things to come.

The New:

The Original:

EL VY

Representing the more playful aspects afforded by side projects, EL VY sees Matt Berninger  (The National) and Brent Knopf (Ramona Falls) moving away from the gloomier indie sound that they’re often associated with into a range of different upbeat and poppier styles. Of particular note are the lighter lyrics which see Berninger describing his penis, rather than lamenting over lost loves. Read our review of the album here.

The New:

The Original:

The Arcs

Side projects also allow musicians to flesh out their work, such as Dan Auerbach (lead guitarist and singer of The Black Keys) does with The Arcs. Rather than being a group of two, The Arcs comprises of a large group of Auerbach’s friends, allowing him to create a more layered, detailed and soul infused take on blues and garage rock.

The New:

The Original:

The Tambourine Girls

Another emerging Australian act is The Tambourine Girls, the solo side-project of Simon Relf (guitarist of Deep Sea Arcade).  By separating himself from the the upbeat stylings of his Sydney group,  Relf’s now a bonafide  laidback, folky singer-songwriter.

The New:

The Original:

Albert Hammond Jr

Although the most well-known spin-off from indie rock band The Strokes may be lead singer Julian Casablancas’ work with The Voidz, Albert Hammond Jr pursues a style much further removed. His three solo efforts feature a uniquely stripped back style, supported by his impressive vocal range. Read our extended piece on Albert Hammond Jr and The Strokes’ different side projects here.

The New:

The Original:

Big Noble

Finally, and perhaps the most obscure side project on this list, is Big Noble. Comprised of Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler and sound designer Joseph Fraioli, the band abandons the post punk and indie trappings of Interpol in favour of creating ambient and experimental soundscapes. Despite this, Kessler’s plucky style of playing remains eerily familiar.

The New:

The Original:

Artists in this post

About The Kills

The Kills is a rock band formed by American singer Alison Mosshart (“VV”) and British guitarist Jamie Hince (“Hotel”). Their first three albums, Keep On Your Mean Side, No Wow, and Midnight Boom have gathered much critical praise. Blood Pressures, their fourth and most recent studio album, was released on April 4, 2011 worldwide and

About Eagles Of Death Metal

Eagles of Death Metal is an American rock band from Palm Desert, California, formed in 1998 by best friends Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme. Despite their band name, Eagles of Death Metal is not a death metal band. The story goes that a friend was introducing Josh Homme to the death metal genre. When he played

About Boots Electric

With his debut album, Honkey Kong (Dangerbird), “Boots” a.k.a. Jesse “The Devil” Hughes brings the funk like never before. Honkey Kong is a sexy and smooth sonic cocktail of swaggering keyboards, funkified beats, sly bass lines, and Boots’ inimitable coitus-inducing croon. After just one listen, you’ll want to shake your hips, you’ll want to sing

About Alabama Shakes

“I woke up this morning thinking I sure hope I meet some nice Aussies who want to rock and roll with me tonight” – singer Brittany Howard Brittany, we’d rock and roll with you anytime. Alabama Shakes’ debut record ‘Boys & Girls’ arrived like a lightning bolt last year, seducing us with its bluesy rock

About #1 Dads

#1 Dads is the solo side-project of Big Scary's frontman Tom Iansek. Iansek rose to prominence as a solo artist in 2015, with latest album About Face being named by publications such as Sydney Morning Herald as one of the best albums of the year. The album, and corresponding live tour, features guest spots from

About Interpol

Interpol is an American indie rock band formed in 1997 in New York City. The band’s original line-up consisted of Paul Banks (vocals, guitar), Daniel Kessler (guitar, vocals), Carlos Dengler (bass guitar, keyboards) and Greg Drudy (drums, percussion). Drudy left the band in 2000 and was replaced by Sam Fogarino. In 2010, shortly after recording

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