Many lead singers can take the leap to solo stardom and, in the process, decimate the group they left behind (think Sting). Others, even though their solo work all but duplicates the group’s sound, flail (think Ian McCullough of Echo and The Bunnymen). Still, it’s obvious that a lead singer would be drawn to a “solo” project, often only “solo” with regard to album credits and royalties.
Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas released Phrazes For The Young October 25th on iTunes (November 3 for the mp3 challenged), and it could easily be mistaken for a collection of Strokes B-sides. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, as I love their signature sound, which Julian is largely responsible for, with his vocals that seem to sung into an underperforming antique microphone that’s set up down the hall from the recording session. The single, “11th Dimension”, is terrific, combining that vocal with what sounds like a New Order sample (and a bridge that seems lifted from Phoenix’s Thomas Mars).
The Strokes are like The Beatles of indie rock, what with the wealth of material released as side and solo projects. Every member has released at least one project, and there are noteworthy cuts on all of them (take that, Ringo). If you like The Strokes, you’ll likely enjo y Phrazes For The Young (buy it HERE) as well as releases from Albert Hammond Jr., Nikolai Fraiture, and Fabrizio Moretti (lead guitarist Nick Valensi has contributed to tracks by Devendra Banhart and Regina Spektor).
Another Julian, Julian Plenti, is an alias for Paul Banks, lead singer of Interpol, and he released Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper on August 4th (buy it HERE). I find this material a little more accessible than Interpol, oft compared to Joy Division. I’ve featured Interpol songs “Narc”, “Slow Hand” and “Rest My Chemistry” on past compilations, and I don’t hear the disembodied Joy Division quality as strongly as some, but whatever Ian Curtis channeling there is has been toned down considerably on …Skyscraper. Here’s the single, “Fun That We Had”:
Fyfe Dangerfield (now that sounds like an alias!) is the lead singer for guiLLeMoTs, featured on 9/2006’s Volume 7 with “Trains To Brazil”. His solo release, Fly Yellow Moon isn’t slated for release till January 2010 but “She Needs Me” is already in full rotation on Passport Approved. This solo work seems the most removed from the “parent” band of the three mentioned here, and it’s an unabashed stab at pop radio, a la Gerry Rafferty (man, I’m old). That doesn’t bother me too much, though nearly five minutes of it are more than enough. Even at that bloated length, it seems to not want to end, though it seems to be trying from around 3:59 (3:20 would’ve been plenty, imho). Not for sale yet, but more info available at his website. Here’s the track: