Top List: The 6 Best Musical Side-Projects

We take a look at six of the best side-projects known to music

New music was released this week in the form of Outta my Mind by The Arcs, The Black Keys’ frontman Dan Auerbach’s side-project. They also released information about a new album, called Yours Dreamily, to be released in September.

It would seem that a lot of artists and musicians are enjoying the idea of having more than one project or outlet for their talent. Many people are making music on their own or as part of another group, when they already have a group or different profession to concentrate on. We’ve picked our top six musical side projects we think you should check out.

Ben Gibbard & Dntel- The Postal Service

postal service

Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) and Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley formed The Postal Service in 2001, an indie-electronica band that would go on to release only one album (Give Up) and a couple of short EPs.

Recording for Give Up started in 2002 and it was eventually released in 2003 by Sub-Pop Records. It consisted of 10 songs, including the enchanting Sleeping In and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, and became somewhat of a cult hit. Only peaking at 114 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart, it would take the album over two years to be classified Gold, and a further seven years (October 2012) to be classified Platinum.

The Postal Service teased a new album in 2008 but scheduling difficulties stopped recording and eventually it was confirmed they would not release a new album which devastated fans, who were desperate for new material.

Alex Turner, Miles Kane & James Ford- The Last Shadow Puppets

last shadow puppets

Turner of the Arctic Monkeys, Kane of The Rascals, and Ford (Simian), while all still fully fledged members of other bands, formed The Last Shadow Puppets in 2007.

This group generated a lot of excitement due to the success of Arctic Monkeys and The Rascals. Kane had already worked with Turner after his previous band had supported the Arctics on their tour, and he featured on 505, the last track on their second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare.

In 2008, they released an album called The Age of the Understatement, which went straight to number one in the UK charts, and that spawned three singles, all of which were received with positive reviews.

Since then, both Turner & Kane have expressed interest in releasing more music together but as of yet nothing has been confirmed, with Turner concentrating on his group and Kane now embarking on a very successful solo career, but nothing has been ruled out.

Damon Albarn – Gorillaz


The most successful virtual band, Gorillaz, were formed in 1998, by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, and consists of four cartoon members (2D, Murdoc, Russel & Noodle). Formed while Albarn was still very much a part of Brit-Pop heroes Blur, no album was released until after Blur members concentrated on other projects in 2001, but there was an EP released in March 2000 called Tomorrow Comes Today.

Gorillaz’ debut, self-titled album was released in 2001 and has since gone seven times platinum and produced singles such as Clint Eastwood, 19-2000 and Rock the House. They have since released three more albums, Demon Days in May 2005, Plastic Beach in 2010 and The Fall in 2011.

They have been nominated for countless awards, including 9 BRIT Awards, as well as 9 Grammy nominations, winning once. The reached new heights with Demon Days with singles such as Dare with Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder and Feel Good Inc. possibly their best and most well known song.

In October 2014, Albarn revealed he plans to release new Gorillaz material in 2016.

Julian Casablancas – Solo

phrazes for the young

Strokes’ frontman, Julian Casablancas is one of many frontmen to delve into the solo game (others include Brandon Flowers of The Killers and Sting from his Police days). But, for us, Julian Casablancas is the best example of this.

He has only released one album, Phrazes for the Young, in 2009, but this album is amazing. It utilizes synthesizers a lot more than his previous work with the band, so the sound is different to what you would expect, but still great. He also released a popular Christmas single.

After the commercial success of the album, Casablancas went on tour with it for about a year, then went back to work with The Strokes, releasing more albums and touring again with them, recently playing in Hyde Park.

Casablancas has revealed he wants to release a new solo album in the near future.

Donald Glover – Childish Gambino

childish gambino

Donald Glover/Childish Gambino is so diversely talented. He started out writing comedy for popular American TV series, 30 Rock, he used to be best known for his portrayal of Troy in hilarious sitcom Community, and he performed stand-up comedy, quite successfully, before properly getting into music. His stand up video, Weirdo, is available on Youtube.

He released an independent album, Sick Boi, in 2008, while still working on 30 Rock, to positive reviews, then came his best album, Camp, in November of 2011, considered by some to be one of the best hip-hop albums of the 21st Century. With songs such as Heartbeat, Bonfire, That Power and Kids, this album is full of great songs with great metaphors.

In 2013, Glover released Because of the Internet, his second studio album with Glasshouse after Camp. This album would be more of a narrative and tell more of a story, and with songs such as 3005 and Sweatpants, this album was a mark of where Glover wanted his music to go.

Glover’s music was a side project, but he has since made it his primary trade, and he is now one of the best in the game, along with Kendrick Lamar and J Cole.

Them Crooked Vultures

them crooked vultures

A super group that consists of members of bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin, has got to be pretty much the ultimate rock super group.

Dave Grohl (Drums, backing vocals), Josh Homme (Lead Vocals, Guitar) and John Paul Jones (Bass) created the ultimate band in 2009. They played a secret show at Reading Festival (on the line-up poster it said ‘TBA’), and it was incredible; they played most of the tracks from their upcoming, self-titled album, released a couple of months later.

The album was full of infectious riffs, from songs like Daffodils, Mind Eraser, No Chaser and Gunman, this album was one of the best of 2009.

The band toured the album in 2009 and 2010, supporting Arctic Monkeys at a few shows as well as various festivals. Then in 2010, Grohl and Homme went back to their respective bands and that was the last we heard from them… until April of this year. The group tweeted that their online merchandise store was back up, their first tweet for nearly five years.

Watch this space.

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