For a lot of great minds, reaching the pinnacle of their chosen industry is the dream, the culmination of all their hard years of work, the very definition of success. In music, however, this isn’t always the case. While scores of talented musicians make their names, grace our ears with their creations and can ride off into the sunset with a well-deserved sense of satisfaction and fulfilment, for some this simply isn’t enough. We’ve been having a brainstorm, and have come up with six talented buggers who, after reeling us all in with one successful project, only went and did it again.
Better known by his black-clad, percussion playing alter-ego Jamie xx, the transformation Jamie Smith has undergone over the last two years has been quite astounding to behold. Starting out as a member of The xx, whose understated, endearing sleeper-hit of a debut album caught the world, and the trio off guard, Jamie has gone on to receive Mercury Prize and Grammy Award nominations for his superb solo debut In Colour. A more electronically based offering, we were surprised at the verve, maturity and scintillating swagger with which he took to a new sound, and have been even more impressed with how undeniably his influence on The xx’s newest album can be felt. Showing in his collaborations to date that he can have a truly mesmerising hold over the genres he chooses to delve into, it’s no wonder his work has been so highly acclaimed. And at the still relatively young age of 28, we can’t wait to see what he’s got left to offer.
With his Rattlesnakes, Frank Carter has undoubtedly hit the sweet spot of his career. With Reading and Leeds appearances and a pack of some of the most fervent fans around just some of the many achievements he surely has to resist boasting about to his friends down the pub, the pop-punk revival we’ve been witnessing over the last few years certainly won’t be slowing down any time soon if Frank gets his way.
But the walk through the park to get to the picnic table wasn’t exactly hellish either. Previous bands Gallows and Pure Love are seen by us here at Riot as the two separate sides to Frank’s perennially entertaining coin, and the two styles which combine in upcoming album Modern Ruin. While previous outing Blossom bore marked similarities to Gallows, expect to find more echoes of Pure Love’s poppier stylings when the record drops on 20 January. Fans of both bands however, can rest assured that Frank Carter is at the top of his game, and (we hope) has no plans to slow down yet.
What would you do if you were the frontman of one of the most phenomenally successful duos ever to release a single? Release a solo album? Found a critically acclaimed side project? Get to work producing some of the most successful albums of the last five years like Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence and Cage The Elephant’s Tell Me I’m Pretty? If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, then after nearly 20 years of work in the music business, you may find yourself where Dan Auerbach is now.
While still collaborating with drummer Patrick Carney on The Black Key’s conveyer belt of hits, Auerbach decided to branch out and release a solo album to critical acclaim. Next, after the duo announced their hiatus, he formed The Arcs, who swiftly released debut Yours, Dreamily,. To top it off, over the years Dan has been producer on some works that even now household names around the country, including Ultraviolence, Tell Me I’m Pretty, and even some work with A$AP Rocky. He’s just gone and announced a new solo album, and it doesn’t even seem like he’s running out of steam. As you do, right?
Jack White is something of a legend, isn’t he? With a list of bands that will take me over my editor’s word limit, he’s been tearing up the world’s stages since before some unfortunate younger souls can remember. Having served as the drummer for Goober & The Peas (yes, not even we’d heard of them before writing this) in his early days, White has gone on to create a string of projects that have delighted our ears. The White Stripes, another of the finest duos ever to take up guitar and drumsticks was the lovechild of one-time couple Jack and Meg, and went on to release six studio albums, tour the world and even feature on The Simpsons over the course of 13 years. The Raconteurs, set up in 2005 in collaboration with Brendan Benson, continued White’s rich vein of form with two Grammy Award Nominated Albums.
Such is the prowess of Jack White that I really am running out of words here. I haven’t even mentioned the Detroit local’s smash hit solo albums Lazaretto and Blunderbuss, his prolific record company Third Man Records, or his work in founding yet another powerhouse of a supergroup The Dead Weather. There’s still so much more to say and, being honest, the name would probably have been enough, wouldn’t it? The man’s reputation precedes him.
Yes, that’s right: lyrical depressant and The National frontman Matt Berninger has another band. After all, where do you think he’s been for the last two years? Having started The National almost 20 years ago, Berninger followed 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me in 2015 by revealing EL VY, a collaboration with Ramona Falls founder Brent Knopf. Releasing the weird, wacky and, frankly, wonderful Return To The Moon the same year, Berninger gifted us some of his dirtiest lyrics yet. This side project was a long time coming with Matt admitting a while back “When I got off stage with The National, or found myself alone in a hotel room somewhere, I’d open it up, along with the minibar, and get to work.”
Now? He’s back with his old chums. The National are presumably gearing up for the release of a new, yet to be announced album, and with 18 years of lyrical brilliance under his belt, we cannot wait to hear what Berninger has in store for us next.
Will Butler, member of Arcade Fire, grandson of one of the inventors of the electric guitar and often confused for older brother Win, is a musical wunderkind of sorts. Playing a list of instruments longer than my arm, Butler is usually found darting around the stage looking like a suitably eccentric member of Arcade Fire. But what else does he do?
Well, for one, he has his own album. Oh yes, filled with preposterous lyrics, infectious riffs and possibly the odd Arcade Fire reference, Policy has a very definite life of its own, much like the man himself. Yet that’s not all Butler’s done – oh no… Alongside fellow multi-band member Owen Pallett, Butler penned the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to 2013’s HER, which itself took home the award for Best Original Screenplay. With the rumour mill for Arcade Fire’s next album already turning, and with Will associating himself with such high-class projects, we doubt it’ll be long before Will returns to a stage near us in obviously dazzling fashion. For now, though, we’ll have to make do with this: