As a music junkie, there’s nothing better than the feeling of when your favorite artists release new music. That is, except for when they announce that they’re back in the studio, and new music is on the way. But still, there’s always that lull—that period of time where it seems like it’s been years and your faves are still lacking new material (I’m looking at you, Arctic Monkeys. Yeah, you too, Black Keys). Because listening to the same albums over and over again can get slightly boring, I’m always on the hunt for new material. That’s how I discovered that it may not be that my favorite artists aren’t putting out new material, but instead they may just be doing so under a different name.
Enter side projects: God’s gift to music lovers everywhere. The discovery of the work that my favorite musicians had been doing while I thought they were inactive has kept me alive while waiting for new music from the main groups to drop (yep, still waiting). So, if you’re an alt-junkie like me and can barely survive waiting for new material, prepare to feel a whole lot better.
The Last Shadow Puppets
The first time I heard of The Last Shadow Puppets, I geeked out. Smack in the middle of my Alex Turner obsession, I learned that the Arctic Monkey’s frontman had another band that happened to be releasing music for the first time in seven years. Talk about impeccable timing.
However, at the time the new album wasn’t due out for a month or so but luckily, I found that the band’s first album had enough material to suffice. The album, entitled The Age Of The Understatement, was released in 2008 following the Arctic Monkey’s tour for their second album, Favorite Worst Nightmare. Lucky for me, young Alex Turner’s voice is one of my favorite things in the world. So, hearing new content from 21-year-old Turner was a dream come true. I could immediately draw similarities between the two bands. The songs off of the first TLSP record have a creaminess to them that allow them to flow similarly to those of the Arctic Monkeys. The Last Shadow Puppets lean closer to alt pop than Turner’s Monkeys, but regardless, bring forth content with a sound that any Arctic Monkeys fan will love. The second TSLP album, Everything You’ve Come to Expect, was released in early April 2016, and with it came a new tour for the band. This means I finally had the opportunity to witness Alex Turner finesse in the flesh (Best. Show. Ever.). The material on the second album draws similarities to the latest Arctic Monkeys album, AM.
The sound is not the only commonality between the two bands, as themes are consistent between the music as well. I found myself listening to “Meeting Place” more than any other song off the first album, similar to how I do with “505” from the Monkey’s Favorite Worst Nightmare. Both songs are thick and complicated love ballads, and happen to be the first true love songs from both bands.
On the contrary, many of the songs are quite different from any Arctic Monkeys material however, will still play to the hearts of any true Arctic Monkeys fan. To my delight the band just announced yet another new record, a welcomed surprise after the band told fans they were supposedly closing out TSLP work for a while at the end of the summer. The EP, entitled The Dream Synopsis after one of their songs from TSLP’s second album, will include six new recordings—a combination of covers performed during their tour and re-workings of songs from Everything You’ve Come To Expect. Get ready fellow Arctic Monkey lovers. The EP is due out Friday, Dec 2.
Must-Listens: “The Dream Synopsis”, “My Mistakes Were Made For You”, “Calm Like You”
I was first introduced to the Black Keys years ago by my brother and father and quickly became enticed by the vibe that the grungy alternative music gave off. El Camino became one of my favorite albums and I began to hum “Lonely Boy” and “Little Black Submarines” a little too often.
The release of Turn Blue in 2014 continued to fuel my Black Keys fire for a while, as did their several past albums from their early years. However, after a while the content began to go dry and I craved to hear Dan Auerbach’s voice preach new words. My prayers were answered one day while listening to XM Radio’s Alt Nation, as I learned that Auerbach had created a side project—a band he called The Arcs. The first song I heard was the band’s first single, “Outta My Mind”. I immediately drew comparisons between the raspy tone of the song and the material I know and love of the Black Keys. Everything from The Arcs’ guitar riffs to the vocals echoed the Black Keys and the band’s next release, a single entitled “Put A Flower In Your Pocket”, brought forth the same vibes that the first single had. The first full album, Yours, Dreamily, is appropriately titled, as it matches the dreamy nature of the music that comes off of it. The Arcs can be described as slightly more psychedelic than their predominantly 80’s garage punk counterpart Black Keys but regardless, if you’re a fan of Auerbach’s mellow, raspy tone you won’t be disappointed by The Arcs. After all, you have an entire album to work with and a few singles to tide you over until the Black Keys put out new content.
Must-Listens: “Outta My Mind”, “Put A Flower In Your Pocket”, “Stay In My Corner”
The Dead Weather
There’s a good chance you know at least one these music groups: The White Stripes, The Kills, Queens of the Stone Age, The Raconteurs, City and Colour. So what do these groups have in common? Their members teamed up to create what I may call God’s gift to rock music. Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs), Allison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, City and Colour) make up the band that call themselves The Dead Weather. Although technically a side project, I see this four-piece as more of a supergroup. The Dead Weather are essentially The Avengers of rock music and are a perfect listen for a fan of any of the involved bands looking for something new to indulge in. And fear not, the content will keep you going for a while.
The Dead Weather have three studio albums to date, the most recent released last fall. The sounds on the records draw inspiration from the artists involved and mix to create a grungy, classic rock genre. Similarities between the songs of The Dead Weather and the artists’ main projects are easy to draw. One of the band’s most popular tracks, “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)” has a similar rhythm to Jack White’s “Lazaretto”: both songs have a steady bump and deliver a raspiness through guitar riffs. These guitar riffs in The Dead Weather tracks are a heavy focus for the band. The same emphasis on guitar is found in tracks from Queens of the Stone Age such as “No One Knows” and from The Raconteurs in “Steady As She Goes”. The Dead Weather edge on the psychedelic side more than its members are used to but do so in a refreshing, bluesy way. So, if you vibe with any of the aforementioned bands and have yet to be blessed by their style, give The Dead Weather a listen. I promise you will get through the albums at an alarming rate.
Must-Listens: “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)”, “Impossible Winner”, “The Difference Between Us”