Top 10 Solo Projects by Guest Blogger Big Search, a.k.a. Matt Popieluch of Foreign Born and Fool's Gold (Also: an Exclusive New Big Search Song)
Matt Popieluch (Big Search, Foreign Born, Fool's Gold) writes on his favorite solo projects.
Guest blogger Matt Popieluch is not only the lead singer in Foreign Born and riddim guitarist for Fool's Gold, but an "artist gone rogue" in his own right. He's celebrating the release of the debut album by his solo project Big Search's at Echo Country Outpost in Echo Park on Tuesday October 12 (tomorrow night). He's also given us a Lay of the Land song to share, "We Know."
Top 10 Artists Who Went Rogue (while trying hard not to mention any Beatles, Neil Young, Lou Reed or Bob Marley)
by Big Search
While few artists who "go solo" ever really achieve the heights of their former bands, their music is worth looking into, if only to see what they were silently stewing about the whole time. At the top of the list is ...
1) Neil Michael Hagerty
Probably the best guitar player on the planet, if it can be said that he is on an actual planet. After leaving Royal Trux in the early '00s, he went on to make three solo records before becoming The Howling Hex and extremely confusing in the process. The first two -- self-titled and Plays That Good Old Rock N Roll -- are the best. The king of atonal solos!
2) Lindsey Buckingham
I follow the Fleetwood Mac guitarist to this day. In fact, it might be more accurate to say, "I rip him off daily." I think he's cool with it though. I was into 1981's Law and Order already, but when I saw him play at the Wiltern a few years ago (touring for Under the Skin) I got everything else. Watching him finger-pick was like watching a hand explode. From barely audible to deafening in an instant.
3) Jerry Garcia
One of my favorite singers and guitar players. His album Garcia is constantly playing in my life, though I admittedly skip over "Spidergawd" on side B (unless I'm sufficiently stoned). I listen to him more than I do the Grateful Dead. Can't recommend that album enough.
4) Martin Rev
The Suicide instrumentalist made a few solo records, but I'm only familiar with the first self-titled album. "Mari" is the standout track, and an astounding one. I put it on while driving through the unavoidable mountain ranges whilst on tour. The music itself is driving and hypnotizing -- though, I'm realizing now, probably not the best soundtrack to negotiating mountain passes.
5) Dennis Wilson
Pacific Ocean Blue! I love this record so much. Chock-full of mesmerizing arrangements. And I always found his voice arresting, whether hearing those occasional Beach Boys songs where he would sing lead (I.E. the relatively under-appreciated "In the Back of My Mind") or exploring this record. Such a stark contrast to the purity of Brian or Carl Wilson -- you can hear his drinking! I'm not sure where Mike Love belongs in that analysis. You can hear him being a dick? I haven't heard much of Bambu yet, but it's on the list.
DOWNLOAD: Big Search - "We Know" [MP3]
6) John Cale
Like an idiot, I didn't actually see the Velvet Underground legend perform Paris 1919 at Royce Hall last week, but was watching Pavement instead. I thought it a worthy trade at the time, but now I kind of regret it. That album and Vintage Violence are the ones I know best, though a friend keeps encouraging me to listen to Slow Dazzle. John Cale is a great producer (Nico, Modern Lovers, Stooges) and like Brian Eno, you can hear it in his music.
7) Peter Tosh
My introduction tcame in the form of a cassette my friend bought for me at a thrift store in San Francisco when I was 19. It was the summer after my freshman year and I was headed to see a friend in Guatemala for a few weeks. There's nothing quite like blasting Legalize It from a hand-held recorder while smoking tobacco-leaf joints in the Caribbean. Equal Rights is also great of course. Most bad-ass solo artist of all time, hands down.
8) Robin Williamson
The founder of one the Incredible String Band has a really great solo album called Myrrh. He has others, but this is the only one I know. This is not music for people who are scared of, hippies. But in my eyes, he remains one of the most unique songwriters of the 20th Century. His songs for ISB were usually very long, with a million incredible little parts. Most of his solo stuff is simpler, and some of it is notably more '70s -- which is a nice change.
9) John Phillips
The Mamas and Papas papa made a great album called The Wolf King of L.A. in 1970. It's the kind of record that has an amazing unanimity about it. Few of the songs really stand out by themselves, but together they make an album that must have summed up that time in his life perfectly. A picturesque, '70s Laurel Canyon/Topanga album. The tempos are all pretty similar, as is the instrumentation, but it's okay. Just don't overthink it, man..
10) Chris Bell
After leaving Big Star, he made I Am The Cosmos, a truly sad and truly great record. I haven't listened to it in quite a while, due to listening to it constantly in college, but it's a worthwhile venture. His duet with his erstwhile bandmate Alex Chilton "You and Your Sister" is incredible. "Speed of Sound" is too.
Big Search celebrates the release of Lay of the Land (St. Ives) on Tuesday, October 12 at Echo Country Outpost (1930 Echo Park Ave., 90026). They will have two-buck beers and barbecue 'round the back. Also: hand-painted album jackets.
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