Under-rated and unexpected solo and side projects

In recent years we’ve seen artists like Self Esteem and Darkside overshadow the projects they were previously known for - and even Blood Red Shoes started as a side project. However, often these projects get a bit overlooked by die hard fans or you’re put off because you didn’t love their band (or solo work if they’ve started a side project or super group).

For example, I didn’t love the final Howling Bells albums as much as the first two but absolutely adored Juanita Stein’s solo work (so much so I helped manage her briefly and wrote the bio for her last album), and been surprised not to see more chatter about her on here. Well worth digging in if you like sadness that shimmers, with tiny bit of country (like, as much as Bright Eyes) in its bones https://www.juanitastein.com/




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Lightning Dust are a side project of members of Black Mountain.

I like Black Mountain but prefer Lightning Dust and their Infinite Light album is stunning. Loved the gig that they did when touring that album at The Bush Hall maybe 10 years ago.

and Wings are the band The Beatles wished that they could be

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Not an unknown but the Hayley Williams solo stuff really caught me by surprise. Loved it.


Same. As a big Paramore fan, I think I might even prefer the solo albums.

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Same. I always like a couple of tracks per album but got properly obsessed with this


Obviously there’s loads of side projects/solos etc. I’ll post more when they come to mind.

Ones that I have enjoyed:

Stephen Malkmus’ self titled debut album has always been far better than any Pavement.

Evan Dando’s solo album is probably behind Ray and Come On Feel in terms of how I rate The Lemonheads’ stuff.

I really liked the debut album of Emma Pollock (from The Delgados). I haven’t checked out any of her others but loved her gig maybe at The Borderline when it came out.

Bob Mould’s Sunshine Rock album was great fun. I’m a slight fan of Sugar but a big fan of Copper Blue. I never really got into Husker Du.

L’epée - A “supergroup” of The Limiñanas, Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and singer/actress Emmanulle Seigner were great both on record and live a few years ago.


Hard agree re everything you said about Bob Mould

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A Perfect Circle’s first two albums tower over anything Tool has ever done, I swear

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I think I prefer SM+Jicks to Pavement overall, I like mature jam-rock Malkmus a lot

They were also better live than the Pavement reunion

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Menomena were originally a side project of Lackthereof

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I was gonna say that Drug Church started as a side project for singer Patrick Kindlon of Self Defense Family, but then I read on Wikipedia that “Drug Church did not start as a side project for singer Patrick Kindlon of Self Defense Family.”


The Hayley Williams solo records were really quite good. Not sure they better the entire Paramore output, but they have some wonderful moments.

As mentioned above - Jenn Wasner’s Flock Of Dimes record was dropped with very little fan fare and was really great.

The first couple of APC records are absolutely BRILLIANT.

Inventions (EITS and Eluvium) have released a number of gorgeous albums, which eclipse a lot of their “main” output.

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Very good example.

Kiasmos maybe? Probably listened to their album more than anything else released by Olafur Arnalds … although I haven’t listened to them for ages after being really bored by their Royal
festival Hall show a few years back .

Mick Turner’s solo stuff (Dirty Three). (And his Mess Esque album was number 5 of my 2021 aotr).

Not better than the day job but Alexis Taylor’s solo stuff can be very good.

Falco’s Christian Fitness of course, too.

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One Day As A Lion.

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This is only going to appeal to a very niche part of DiS, but two of Bruce Dickinson’s solo albums are up there with the very best of Iron Maiden

(No clue if these links wilk work properly)

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I wouldn’t take them over the Pumpkins obviously, but Billy Corgan’s and Jimmy Chamberlin’s non-Pumpkins projects are legitimately great.

Zwan has become something of a meme, and it’s a shame because they were amazing. The album has an unfair reputation as overly sugary and positive, but if you actually listen to it there’s an undercurrent of doom throughout which finally erupts during one of the few best songs (if not the very best song) of the past 20 years.

This is really so beautiful.

Billy’s first solo album TheFutureEmbrace is secretly an electro-shoegaze classic, and it’s getting better with age.

Billy’s second solo album Ogilala is very nice and full of stripped down guitar and piano ballads.

Billy’s third solo album Cotillions is an Americana album, and as odd as that sounds, it’s one of the few best albums of 2019.

Jimmy has The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, which is basically a jazz fusion / rock band. Incredible drumming, as expected.


Whilst John Frusciante’s passion for acid house was already evident in his Trickfinger releases, I was still surprised at how good his drill and bass/jungle record from last year, Maya, was.

Me: Sees thread. Notices @TAFH33 has just posted. Puts two and two together. Scrolls down to hoping to hear about Zwan in the chat.

Also me: able to rest easy tonight.