Supergroups sometimes get a bad rap in pop culture. There have been some great collaborations while some that prove that the whole does not always equal the sum of its parts. And of course, nobody loves to see their favourite artist leave their primary gig to play with their friends. But as the following list shows, there are some supergroups that not only deliver, but in many cases, eclipse the quality of their main projects. This is our list of eight frankenbands you should definitely care about.
Broken Social Scene (Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Feist, Jason Collett, Emily Haines of Metric, Amy Millan, Evan Cranley, and Torquil Campbell of Stars, Charles Spearin of Do Make Say Think and everybody else in Canada)
The relationship that BSS has with its various “side” bands is unlike anything else in music. With seemingly half of Canada’s top alternative musicians holding some sort of affiliation with the sprawling, Toronto-based collective, BSS has taken turns growing the visibility of bands like Stars and Metric and and in turn using the standalone cachet of those bands to solidify their place as indie rock luminaries.
The Dead Weather (Jack White, Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs, Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age)
Jack White was no stranger to supergroups when he started The Dead Weather (having already founded the Raconteurs four years earlier with members of The Greenhornes), still the man has followed through with his vision. Five years into the project, the bluesy alt rockers are still alive and kicking.
Mounties (Hawksley Workman, Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat and Ryan Dahle of Limblifter)
Steve Bays may have had the bigger hits in Canada with Hot Hot Heat, but Hawksley Workman has built up an impressive legion of followers over the last 15 odd years with a dynamic live show and uncanny ear for melody. Together with Ryan Dahle of Limblifter Mounties’ 80s-tinged pop rock has been a staple of independent radio since the group released their debut LP Thrash Rock Legacy in March.
The Postal Service (Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel) https://
Did people really know who Dntel was before Jimmy Tamborello decided to team up with Ben Gibbard for Give Up (and if not does that preclude The Postal Service from being considered a “supergroup”)? Well, as it turns out they did. Cooler folks than I were wise to the glitchy, futuristic electronica of Dntel way back in 2001 and became early evangelists for his work with the Death Cab frontman. Good thing too as the collaboration was responsible for birthing one of the most influential albums of the aughts.
The New Pornographers (A.C. Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar and John Collins of Destroyer, Kathryn Calder of Immaculate Machine, Kurt Dahle and Todd Fancey of Limblifter)
In many ways, The New Pornographers are Canada’s west coast answer to Broken Social Scene (with song titles like “War on the East Coast” they’re not exactly subtle). Employing several of Van city’s most talented artists, they’ve been making top-shelf power-pop since forming in ‘99.
Broken Bells (Danger Mouse, James Mercer of the Shins)
Danger Mouse (born Brian Joseph Burton) came to prominence in 2004 when he released The Grey Album, an unprecedented combination of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles’ White Album. James Mercer came to prominence in 2004 when Natalie Portman listened to one of his songs in Garden State. Sometime since the two formed Broken Bells—a pleasant combination of spacey funk and electronica-lite that might also go well on a Zack Braff soundtrack…
Mister Heavenly (Ryan Kattner of Man Man, Nick Thornburn of Islands, Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse)
The combination of Ryan Kattner’s ragged baritone and Nick Thornburn’s silken tenor might sound a bit strange on paper, but so far the results have been surprisingly effective. Falling somewhere between the fiery “doom-wop” of Man Man and weirdo pop of Islands (with a healthy sprinkle of Modest Mouse thrown in for good measure) Mister Heavenly make playful, 1950s-inspired rock n’ roll that’s as unhinged as its leads.
Monsters of Folk (Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and M.Ward) https://
Can’t argue with the name. Jim, Conor, and Matthew (yes, the “M” stands for Matthew), have been three of the biggest, most consistent names in alt folk over since the turn of the century. Sure, it took five years to record their first album, and of course it couldn’t live up to fans’ impossible expectations, but superband or no superband Monsters of Folk’s loose, homespun tracks have been more than competent.
Honourable Mentions: Run The Jewels (El-P and Killer Mike), Divine Fits (Britt Daniel of Spoon, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs), Middle Brother (John McCauley of Deer Tick, Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit, and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes)