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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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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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