Break Up the Band

January 24, 2013
christopher-owens-2013

When Christopher Owens, frontman for the buzz-building San Francisco-based indie-rock band Girls, abruptly announced he was leaving the band last July, he gave no reasoning beyond “it’s personal.” Owens, above, has since said the band members had grown distant and that his vision of Girls had fallen apart. Last week, Owens took the next logical step and put out “Lysandre,” his first solo album. A slight, stripped-down song cycle about Owens’ relationship with a French woman during Girls’ first European tour, “Lysandre” doesn’t drastically reinvent the Girls sound, nor is it a rehash. Owens’ confessional songwriting and strong pop sensibilities remain — everything is just a little more ornate and a little less rock-oriented. With Owens returning to the 9:30 Club on Sunday for the first time as a solo artist, we’re looking at other artists who’ve broken up their bands to go solo to see how they fared.

Justin Timberlake

Ex-Band *NSYNC, which went on hiatus in 2002 and hasn’t recorded since.
Sounded Like The ultimate boy band, with hits such as “Tearing Up My Heart,” “Bye Bye Bye” (that one’s still pretty good!) and “Pop.”
Solo Sound Modern, freaky, funky pop, especially 2006’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” which brought sexy back and made Timberlake a certifiable talent.
Was It Worth It? Definitely, if only for ridding the world of *NSYNC. After a foray into acting, Timberlake will return with his first album since 2006, “The 20/20 Experience,” this year.
Reunited? Nope, and Timberlake’s solo music and acting careers are largely to blame/thank.

Robert Plant

Ex-Band Led Zeppelin, which broke up in 1980 following the death of drummer John Bonham.
Sounded Like Heavy metal and classic rock before anyone knew what heavy metal and classic rock were — with wizards!
Solo Sound At his worst, like a watered-down Zep. At his best, like a soulful Southern shaman on his rootsy 2007 collaboration with Alison Krauss.
Was It Worth It? Well, let’s just say that if Zeppelin had continued without Bonham, no one would have complained about the untapped possibilities of a Robert Plant solo career.
Reunited? A few times. Most notably in 2007, with Bonham’s son, Jason, on drums, for a benefit concert in London, captured in the concert film and live album “Celebration Day.”

David Byrne

Ex-Band Talking Heads, broken up as of 1991.
Sounded Like Art school-educated punks melding world-music rhythms, rock and pop into a dream called new wave.
Solo Sound Byrne’s solo work has ranged from weirdo orchestration (his 1997 album “Feelings”) to the poppy funk of the 2001 song “Like Humans Do.” He also scored episodes of HBO’s polygamist-family series “Big Love.”
Was It Worth It? Byrne’s solo career has been fruitful — especially his collaborations with other artists (such as Brian Eno and St. Vincent), but nothing he’s done has eclipsed the Heads.
Reunited? Briefly, when Talking Heads was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Beyonce

Ex-Band Destiny’s Child, on hiatus since 2006.
Sounded Like If the girl groups of the 1960s hiked up their go-go shorts and got hooked up with some late-’90s production tricks.
Solo Sound Beyonce, not having to cooperate with mere humans.
Was It Worth It? For Beyonce, absolutely. On her own, she became megastar Queen Bey, married Jay-Z and provided empowered dance anthems for bachelorette and breakup parties everywhere. (Not to mention she recorded a certain national anthem for a certain inauguration.)
Reunited? As part of her halftime performance at the Super Bowl in February, Beyonce will reunite Destiny’s Child and perform the trio’s one-off new single, “Nuclear.”

9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; Sun., 7 p.m., $20; 202-265-0930. (U Street)
Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Marc Silver | January 24, 2013