Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Highly Anticipated: The Artists Who Are Making Fans (Like Me) Wait

For someone who loves music, even the shortest time between an artist's albums can seem like an eternity. When I fully listen to a new album from one of my favorite artists (one that's actually good), I immediately get the urge to want to hear more. With the artists I really like, I sometimes even seek out B-sides and unreleased tracks. Ultimately, though, I know that making great art of any kind takes time and sometimes, it can take a long time.

With that in mind, I've decided to compile a list of artists I like who have been taking their time bringing out their next work. I'm not talking about those artists who release a new album every other year or even those who take a three or four year break between albums. I'm talking about artists those who take so long, even the rumors of a new album make you salivate.

Lauryn Hill
Last Studio Album: The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill (August 1998)
Last Release: MTV Unplugged V2.0 (May 2002)

I guess I'll get started with one of the more obvious ones. The saga of Lauryn Hill has just about become a cautionary tale for new artists who make it big very quickly. The stress of trying to follow up an album as good as Miseducation obviously took its toll on her as she now barely represents what millions loved about her in the first place. She has popped up a bit more often as of late and makes an appearance on Joss Stone's just-released new album. Maybe that's a sign that within another five or six years, we'll finally get that new studio album.

The Fugees
Last Studio Album: The Score (February 1996)
Last Release: “Take It Easy” (2005)

You can't talk about Lauryn Hill without talking about the group she came from. It was The Fugees hitting the big time that led to Lauryn Hill hitting the big time on her own. Even though the members went their separate ways, the group never officially broke up and made a surprising comeback performance in 2005 as documented in Dave Chappelle's Block Party. That same year, they released their first single in years, “Take It Easy.” I heard it on the radio maybe once or twice and never heard it again. Many fans hoped that “Take It Easy” would be a teaser for a new album but word of a new album has since died down. Which will happen first...a Lauryn Hill album or a Fugees album? Will either happen at all?

Last Studio Album: Portishead (September 1997)
Last Release: Roseland NYC Live (November 1998)

“Good things come to those who wait” is most certainly the motto of a Portishead fan. The band that has influenced a variety of artists and spawned a lot of imitators hasn't broken up and has not had any drama. They are working on a new album and an article here on Blogcritics even revealed that the group performed a new song live recently. They are just taking a long time. Every time I revisit my copy of Dummy or Portishead, I really wish they'd hurry up. However, I am confident that when they deliver that long awaited studio album, they will blow us all away.

Last Studio Album: Voodoo (January 2000)
Last Release: (Same As Above)

With Voodoo, D'Angelo was able to stave off the dreaded “sophomore slump” and follow up a well-received debut with what some consider an even better album. After releasing this great album (and making the infamous video for “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”), D'Angelo went behind the scenes. He helped produce albums for Common and other artists. Then, he kind of disappeared. He had several run-ins with the law and only appeared here and there musically. The last appearance I know of is on the song “So Far To Go” from J. Dilla's 2006 posthumous release The Shining. There are rumors that D'Angelo is working on new music and trying to get back in shape. Given his track record as an artist and producer, his next album could be worth the wait.

The Avalanches
Last Studio Album: Since I Left You (2000)
Last Release: Various Remixes

Even almost seven years after its release, I have never heard another album quite like Since I Left You. It took sampling to a level rarely seen since. That album had to be a massive undertaking, so I guess it makes sense that a proper follow up would take so long. The only reason I think the group is still around because I found a remix they did of Wolfmother's “Woman.” I have no idea if they are working on a new album or not but I'll pre-order as soon as it's announced.

For those of you who might think that that it's futile to anticipate new albums from these artists, let's remember that artists can actually come back from long hiatuses. It took nearly six years for DJ Shadow to release The Private Press, his follow up to his classic debut Endtroducing... Rapper/actor Redman is slated to release Red Gone Wild: Thee Album later this month. It also comes after nearly six years. Redman's last studio album was 2001's Malpractice.

Even as I wait patiently for new albums from these artists I enjoy, the one thing I don't want them to do is rush anything. There is no worse feeling than waiting a long time for something only for it to be disappointing. All of these artists are capable of making great music and I'd wait another five or six years if it meant that the music they finally release would be stellar.

The artists I mentioned here are artists I enjoy but I know there are many, many other artists that people enjoy that have made them wait for new material (Guns 'N' Roses, anyone?). Please share the artists you can't wait to hear new music from in the comments section.

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