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The EditoriaList: Top Ten Indie Rock Side Projects

Oh, the side project. So often a bad idea, a vanity project, intended to display another side of an artist who really only has one good side. But other times, we get to see the output of great artists and performers who escape the confines of the project for which they are best-known. And if you’re a fan of that primary project, it’s always interesting to see what else the artist is driven or inspired to do, and whether you like the side project more or less. This list focuses on artists that could all be described as indie rock (depending on how strictly you define that term, I guess). The side project may or may not have evolved into a main project, but it has to have been formed secondarily to another band or ‘career’ while that career was still ongoing. This is my decree, let it be so…

10. The Gentlemen

Members of frequent tour-mates The Figgs and The Gravel Pit got together for this riff-heavy and rootsy rock band whose debut album, Ladies And Gentlemen, is a blistering good time.

 

9. She & Him

M. Ward was primarily a well-respected solo artist before hooking up with actress and singer Zooey Deschanel and launching She & Him, for which they both write the music. It’s simply delightful, classic pop.

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Vocal Points: Actors Turned Singers

There are incredibly talented people all over the world who spend their lives pursuing a single goal: musical success. These dedicated souls spend day after day making and promoting their music in the hope that one day they will finally make it, and be able to make a living off their music. And despite how badly they want to reach their goals, many of them never achieve the success they crave. Yet, there are plenty of less-talented artists making millions off their mediocre music every day. How, is this possible? The answer is fame.

While historically, singing and acting went hand in hand because many acting roles were in opera or musical theater, today this is no longer the case. TV and movie stars can make a fine living for themselves without having any musical training. But instead of sticking to their theatrical roots, a growing number of actors and actresses decide to pursue music careers, simply because they have an audience readily available. Some of these cross-over artists are incredible, but many others are just incredibly bad. And it begs the question, would these stars have any followers if they were known solely for their musical talent?

An example which comes immediately to mind is Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy had incredible success with the Star Trek series, and while he has no particular talent when it comes to singing, he was approached by a record label to record five albums and capitalize on the shows success. Fellow Trekkie William Shatner followed a similar pattern, releasing a series of albums where he mostly speaks the lyrics, rather than actually singing. The only reason either of them had any takers for their “music” is due Star Trek‘s extremely loyal fan base.

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Tour De Force: Summer Tours Galore

Well it’s finally here. The temperature is currently 90 degrees in Boston and summer is HERE. Along with days at the beach, barbeques and bikinis, summer is full of awesome shows. The question is which ones to go to? There are just so many options that going to all the shows you’d like to see can put quite a strain on your wallet. But never fear. We’ve put together a list of some of the best artists and festivals you don’t want to miss live!

The Big Names

If there is one artist you should be willing to spend a little cash on this summer, it is Lady Gaga. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 80-year-old man who has never even heard “Poker Face” or “Bad Romance,” her show is guaranteed to shock and awe. Gaga is known for her theatricality, over-the-top antics and her extremely devoted fan base of little monsters, all of which add up to equal a great performance for sure. With tour dates booked through April 2011 tickets are a quite the commodity so get ‘em while they’re hot!

If Lady Gaga isn’t exactly your cup ‘o tea then perhaps John Mayer will be right up your alley. The man definitely knows how to put on a show and is sure to woo everyone with his charming good looks and killer guitar skills. There are few people in this world that can stand alone on a stage in front of thousands of people and make them listen simply by playing a guitar. The production on his winter tour was excellent, complete with an awesome light show and video, and it sure to even better on the upcoming tour. Check out the dates here.

Bieber Fever. Enough said. This little guy has taken the world by storm, collaborating with artists such as Usher, Ludacris and Sean Kingston. He truly is 2010′s tweenage heartthrob sensation. I feel that at some point in every young girl’s life they should get to go see their teenage idol (I will never forget the ’97 N*Sync concert I went to). Plus I’ve seen Bieber’s dance moves. Pretty impressive. So parents, grandparents, 18-year-olds brave enough to admit they like Justin Bieber, get your tix now.
Click To See Indie And OurStage Artists Touring This Summer

Coachella in Review

As the dust settles in the Indio, CA desert, it’s time to reflect upon another amazing experience at Coachella.  This year brought audiences lots of dancing, comfortable weather and some unfortunate cancellations due to the airline chaos caused by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokwll glacier.  Natural disasters aside, varied acts like Jay-Z, Phoenix and DJ Lance Rock offered festival goers some surprises.  Overall, the three days of music resulted in some hits and misses.  Check it out!

Despite the long lines to get into the festival earlier in the day, She & Him started the day off with a sunny dose of poppy folk.  The always-cute Zooey Deschanel, clad in a baby blue halter dress, did most of the talking between sets.  Although nothing she said was too interesting, her effervescent smile and bright eyes made everyone smile.  Their set finished early, leaving time for the band to come back onstage to play “I Put A Spell On You.”  Zooey belted it out to thunderous applause and cheering.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé

Headliner Jay-Z kicked Friday night off right.  His better half, Beyoncé, graced us with her prescence when she came on stage during his set to sing “Forever Young.”  Even the hugest haters were on their feet cheering so it goes without saying this power couple was on fire.  Earlier in the night, LCD Soundsystem rocked it with an extended version of “All My Friends” and their new “Drunk Girls.”

Saturday got started with a shred-tastic set from rock/ska/punk band RX Bandits.  Bassist Choi destroyed on a drum solo near the end of their show.  What was most refreshing about RX Bandit’s set was seeing their label execs jamming on the side of the stage instead of staring at their Blackberry’s with arms crossed.  No one could deny that RX Bandits melted faces.  And the rock didn’t stop there. Portugal. The Man. picked up the energy right after.  They even had a toddler looking on behind the stage (with sound blocking headphones of course.)  You have to respect parents who can still play!

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SXSW Wrap Up

The day after Christmas, wrapping paper lines the floor, new acquisitions sit in a pile on your bed and you feel both relieved and disappointed for the madness and excitement to be over.  This is the exact feeling of coming home after SXSW.  Trash lines the streets, endless swag fills your Jansport backpack and you’re at once excited to sleep but sad that the party’s over.  Before getting back to real life, let’s reminisce on the past week (and ahead for next year).  Here are a few tips for SXSW 2011:

1. Get a hotel near the convention center with friends. Before heading to Austin, check out where the convention center is and find a hotel around the area early on.  There are shuttles that go to the hotels further out, but if you can shell out the extra $20 or so a night, definitely go for it.  When you’re trying to get to your hotel after Fang Island (the best set ever) at 2 am and the shuttle’s load of drunken losers kill your buzz,  you’ll wish you had spent the extra money.  Also, go with friends!  Not only will it be cheaper, but sharing the entire experience will make it 100x better.

2. Pick up your badge first. When you get to Austin, pick up your badge and complimentary bag at the convention center first, and then go check in to your hotel.  They often give you free swag when you first arrive, so it’s best to drop everything off in your room at once rather than having to go back to your hotel right away.

3. Use the SXXpress badge and plan ahead. A new feature this year, the SXXpress badges are for those attendees who have music or platinum badges.  SXXpress allows you to jump the line at one venue each night. However, if a show’s at capacity, you can still be denied entry.  If one show is sold out, have a backup plan ready to put into action immediately.  You have to move and think fast in order to get into everywhere you want to. You can pick up these badges up on the 4th floor of the conference center.

4. Pack appropriately.  Obviously this is a no-brainer.  However, Saturday’s cold weather left many people unprepared.  You might want to throw in a hoodie or raincoat just in case. Also, ladies, don’t wear heels. Chicks will look at you like you’re crazy and creeps will try to take you home.  Basically, wear comfortable shoes, don’t get sunburn, but stay warm.

5. Stay hydrated and healthy. No, not with alcohol.  Drink tons of water during the day; don’t binge on tacos.  A slice of pizza or two is great, but when you ate a whole pizza at noon and it’s 8 pm and you’re running to and from shows, it’s not so great.

6. Wear earplugs! It doesn’t matter how uncool you feel or how dorky they look.  Standing next to the monitors at Visqueen and Sharon Jones was unreal, but getting to She & Him and only hearing static was so not worth it.  So take care of yourself, and the experience will be a ton more enjoyable.

Above all of these things, the one thing you definitely should do is GO!  The memories, sun and incredible music make everything at SXSW worth the money and time.  Round up a group of friends and make it happen!  This is a moment in life you will never regret making happen, but look back on and smile.

SXSW: Day Four

The final day of SXSW came much too quickly.  After three days filled with music, fun and BBQ, Austin really picked up for one last day.  The afternoon was filled with parties and outdoor shows, despite the frigid weather.  Rachael Ray threw her annual party at Stubb’s, complete with a fairly decent lineup.

The highlights of the party at Stubb’s were She & Him, Andrew WK, Justin Townes Earle and OurStage acts Shayna Zaid and The Catch, The Orion Experience and Lawrence Arabia.  Larger acts played on the stages outside while Daytrotter recorded sessions inside.  Some of the lucky Daytrotter recorded bands were She & Him, Fang Island, Freelance Whales and Lawrence Arabia.  Singer-songwriter Arabia, formally of The Reduction Agents, the Brunettes and the Ruby Sun, was enchanting as he sang songs off his self titled debut and Chant Darling. Fresh off tours with Feist and Okkervil River, Arabia was quite charming and soulful.

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SXSW: Day Two

Thursday was a killer at this year’s SXSW.  Austin was off to a slow start after a rough night for most of the concert goers and artists.  Luckily, Finn Riggins kicked off the day with an outdoor set at The Sidebar — a great way to wake up with a cup of coffee.  The combination of this OurStage band’s contagious energy was and warm sunlight had everyone smiling.
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SXSW Artist Round-Up

SXSW is finally here!  In just two days, hundreds of amazing acts from around the globe will descend upon Austin to show music fans what they’ve got.  Our SXSW Previews barely scratched the surface of what the festival has to offer in terms of raw talent so we’ll try to get you up to speed with this artist lightening round. Think fast!

Here are a few acts that are not to be missed:

She & Him: Comprised of indie darling/actress Zooey Deschanel and folk veteran M. Ward, She & Him established themselves as bona fide artists with 2008’s Volume I. This year, they’ve leaked three tracks from the upcoming Volume II and are preparing for the full album release.  As excitement for the duo to tour again this summer builds, girl crushes on the blue-eyed singer intensify.  Judging from the looks of their latest music video for “In The Sun,” She & Him’s appearances at SXSW are sure to be crazy cute and priceless.  This is the group you’ll never forgive yourself if you miss.

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