DID YOU READ

From Steven Tyler to Régine Chassagne, five artists who shouldn’t go solo

From Steven Tyler to Régine Chassagne, five artists who shouldn’t go solo (photo)

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Yesterday, Thurston Moore released Demolished Thoughts, his fourth and inarguably best solo album in the three decades since he co-founded Sonic Youth. Unlike his previous song-oriented solo works, Demolished Thoughts finds its sound–lush, lonely, Beck Hansen-assisted rock, retextured with acoustics–and sticks with it from start to finish. After one of the most enviable and inspiring careers in indie rock, Moore continues to reinvent his image and offerings with unexpected approaches.

But it doesn’t work for everyone; in fact, everyone probably shouldn’t try it. Below, we look at five bandleaders who have yet to make a solo album, and why we hope it stays that way.

Steven Tyler: Several years ago, Guided by Voices frontman Robert Pollard released an infamous collection called Relaxation of the Asshole, a best-of culled from the worst of his drunken banter. Even if you dislike his band, it’s sort of an essential one-time listen. That’s about the best I’d hope for with a Steven Tyler album–a collage of his best moments in interviews, drawing heavily from his various exclamations and John Madden-like commentary on American Idol. (Go Scotty, right?) After all, Tyler has been writing and recording for nearly four decades, and his first solo quasi-hit, “(It) Feels So Good,” was released earlier this month. Prominently featuring dobro, acoustic guitar and an electric guitar solo that really makes us wonder where Joe Perry went, it’s a terribly inauspicious debut. Keep quipping, dude. Let the kids do the singing.

Chad Hugo: If the half of the band N.E.R.D. and the production team Neptunes that isn’t Pharrell Williams could tap the right record collection, his solo album–or at least a record released as Chad Hugo, with help from a few big-name friends–might actually work. With the sort of top-rate gear at dude’s disposal, think Toro y Moi with more gumption and production value. The more interesting possibility for the multi-instrumentalist, though, might be beat-based soundscapes built from drum samples and the keyboard, saxophone and guitar he apparently plays. I’m thinking the elemental post-classical music of Eluvium updated with bombast.

Please note, though, that interesting doesn’t always mean good: The combination of drifting soundscapes and idle electronic beats mostly seems like a good idea on paper. It often sounds less interesting than whatever instrumentals they’re playing down at the corner grocery these days.

Régine Chassagne: Honestly, our hopeful solo embargo applies to most of the prominent members of The Arcade Fire, including Win Butler. But Régine Chassagne reminds us of a championship football squad’s special teams outfit: She’s the master of her domain, rather that means reinventing Cyndi Lauper or standing at the helm of her band’s inexhaustible bombast. But you’d never let former Packers sprinter Desmond Howard run quarterback or play middle linebacker just because he’s good at punt returns, right? Chassagne’s zealous delivery and emphatic, occasional drumming are an essential component of The Arcade Fire’s power and popularity; but spread over an album, her lack of subtlety and dynamics might manage a migraine.

Colin Meloy: The Decemberists frontman actually has four solo collections to his name–a live record and three discs of songs by Sam Cooke, Shirley Collins and Morrissey. Cut from the context of his lush rock band, those records emphasize just how unabashedly he sings with that nasally creak of his. While it’s hard to get too riled as someone sings “Bring it on Home to Me” or “Jack the Ripper,” the thought of Meloy belting out his own vacuous attempts at being both literary and clever with no band to hide the bleat is just too much to stand. At least for me, most Decemberists records invoke the thought, “Dude, please shut the fuck up”; if Meloy’s singing by himself, mustering eloquence even that elementary might be impossible.

Robbie Robertson: Oh, yeah. Well, damn. Can’t save ’em all.

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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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