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Changing sounds

Where do you go when you’re an immensely successful rock star and have been there and done all that you ever dreamed of? Well, you start a side-project, which is nothing like your day job. This issue, we take a look at three side-projects that are getting as much attention as the real thing.

Bibek Bhattacharya | Print Edition: August 24, 2008

The Raconteurs
The Raconteurs

When principal White Stripe Jack White decided to form The Raconteurs with singer/songwriter Brendan Benson in 2005, it was clear that this was more than a mere collaboration. For both White and his long-time friend Benson, the new band offered a distinct change in sound. For White, it was a chance to shed the self-inflicted limitations of The White Stripes. In the Stripes, playing along with Meg White on drums, Jack has perfected the art of playing just with his guitar (and effects pedals), piano and precious little else.

If this approach has driven the Stripes to brilliant heights, it also made a creative and prolific songwriter like Jack limit himself. With The Raconteurs, which is something of an Indie “supergroup”, he revels in the freedom of being the member of a band, trading lead vocals and guitar solos with Benson. They co-write all the songs and this helps offset White’s more visceral blues with the Beach Boys-like pop of Benson.

The Raconteurs work as a traditional fourpiece band churning out garage rock anthems like Steady As She Goes or These Stones Will Shout. Their first album, Broken Boy Soldiers, came out in 2006 amidst much hype and hoopla, chiefly because of White’s presence, but whatever fears that fans might have had about The White Stripes’ future were assuaged with last year’s brilliant Icky Thump. With The Raconteurs’ sophomore 2008 album Consolers of the Lonely, the band moves further away from the garagepop sounds of their debut towards the more experimental sounds of Attention and You Don’t Understand Me.

Hear the raconteurs at:
www.theraconteurs.com

The Last Shadow Puppets
The Last Shadow Puppets

When The Arctic Monkeys burst upon the British rock scene in 2006 with Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not—it became the fastest-selling album in the Isles. Apart from the crunchy garagerock-meets-heavy-metal sound of the band and their ridiculous youth, what immediately stood out was the brilliant songwriting of frontman Alex Turner. Last year, following the band’s critically-acclaimed second album, My Favourite Worst Nightmare, Turner announced that he was going to form another band with the Rascals’ singer/guitarist, Miles Kane.

While both boys were from a similar background and with similar tastes in music, nobody expected their band, The Last Shadow Puppets, to sound the way they do. Produced by The Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford—he also plays the drums—The Age Of The Understatement is a lush ambitious album that uses the London Symphony Orchestra to craft superb symphonic pop music. Song after song like The Age Of The Understatement, Calm Like You, Separate and Ever Deadly build up the drama with other tunes like Standing Next To Me to provide a break from the bombast. A great debut album that sounds nothing like The Arctic Monkeys guitar, bass and drums sound, The Age Of The Understatement has since hit #1 in the UK.

Hear the last shadow puppets at: www.myspace. com/thelastshadowpuppets

The Foxboro Hot Tubs
The Foxboro Hot Tubs


Green Day has got to be the biggest latter-day punk band to have hit the big time with such swaggering ‘90s albums as Dookie and Nimrod. While nobody could doubt the sincerity of their punk rock ethos, few would agree that the band were great songwriters as well. But all that changed with the release of American Idiot in 2004, an ambitious album lambasting the US government. It went on to become one of the biggest-selling albums in recent rock history, catapulting the already popular punk trio to stadium rocking status, and earning them the tag of generational spokesmen.

Smart punks that they are, they quickly became another band to get the pressure off themselves and have some fun in the process. And so was born The Foxboro Hot Tubs, a garage rock band that rocks to the sounds of the ‘60s. In fact, most of the songs rework classic riffs from that decade and the band writes short, sweet pop songs with great hooks around them. The sound is also akin to many modern bands like The Strokes, but where the Hot Tubs differ is in their playfulness. You can hear the fun that this band is having, paying their debt to the bands that inspired them. While Green Day has made a habit of writing rock-opera-like song suites and indulging in pointed social commentary, their alter egos write about frivolous things like teenage romance and girls with a “strychnine twitch”. A must hear.

Hear the foxboro hot tubs at :www.myspace.com/foxborohottubs

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