Plenty of groups and artists have long careers spanning several years and multiple projects. Sometimes it seems as if they just up and vanish, never to be heard from again. D’Angelo wasn’t making music for over a decade. Then, he cured our fix in 2014, swooping in at the last minute in December with Black Messiah and made what could be considered the best album of that year. But there are plenty of other artists who have vanished from the limelight and have not yet returned.
Groups and individual artists like Blink-182, Jamiroquai, Green Day and Frank Ocean could have been on this list, but thankfully, they have albums being released this year. But the ones mentioned in this list are past due for a major album release, despite whether or not they’ve broken up or just haven’t been in the studio.
Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shae Haley are still friends, we know this. The last three songs N*E*R*D* released were The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water in 2014. Their last official studio album, Nothing, was released in 2010. We have gone six whole years without a project from N*E*R*D* and this is just unacceptable. Pharrell, of course, has stayed busy producing for several artists, even releasing his second solo project, GIRL. But this isn’t enough. Their use of electronic, bass and funk beats is sorely missed, as well as their blend of R&B, pop and hip-hop. All they do is genre-bend and it’s all greatness.
André “André 3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton are the greatest duo in hip-hop, and have been for quite sometime. Not just for the hits like “Ms. Jackson” or “B.O.B.” later in their career, but also for “Player’s Ball.” Those first three albums, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, ATLiens and Aquemini will forever be hip-hop classics. With six Grammy’s and over 25 million records sold, OutKast is a duo that needs to make a return to the game. Big Boi has released his own solo projects and even teamed up with Phantogram last year to form Big Grams. Andre will drop a pheonomonal verse on an album every now and then. And apparently, Gucci Mane recorded a track for the two of them? Those rumors are being shot down, but we can only hope.
Kenna Zemedkun is actually friends with Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, so much so that they produced songs for his second album Make Sure They See My Face. Released in 2007, the album was a mixture of alternative, electronic and pop sounds, with a lot of emphasis on synths and a somewhat futuristic sound. As an artist, he was cultivating a really cool sound and vibe and building a promising future. Kenna released a series of EP’s, each with three songs, titled Land 2 Air Chronicles, but no follow-up album. Other things in life have kept him busy, it seems. Songs for Flight is supposedly the title of his next album but there doesn’t seem to be a set release date for this one.
4.) Rage Against the Machine
The Battle of Los Angeles is a masterpiece. This was the album that earned Rage Against the Machine a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album in 2001. They had two great albums prior to this, Evil Empire in 1996 and their debut self-titled album in 1992, though the band broke up in 2000. They were radical, political, rebellious and extremely talented. In fact, they still are, which is why the idea of the band getting back together would be so phenomenal, especially given the current state of the country. Zack de la Rocha will be releasing a solo project next year, but it’s not quite the same without the other three members.
5.) Zero 7
Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, the British duo known as Zero 7, really nailed that ambient, lo-fi, downtempo atmosphere with their music. Particularly with their first two albums, Simple Things and When It Falls. The two albums after that, The Garden and Yeah Ghost, took on a more upbeat, pop vibe with the production. Much like The Shins, who are also on this list, I was first introduced to them through Zach Braff’s indie dramedy Garden State. Yeah Ghost was released in 2009 and they haven’t released an album since, and they also haven’t announced that they’ve broken up.
6.) The Shins
Many were introduced to the sounds of The Shins thanks to Garden State, with their song “New Slang” being featured on the soundtrack. James Mercer’s lyrics and storytelling is truly incredible, even if a lot of it is difficult to decipher. After Port Of Tomorrow in 2012, the band wasn’t making any more albums, after Mercer was “unequivocally fired” from the group. But he ended up later rejoining the group. They did a song for Zach’s 2014 film Wish I Was Here and that was about it. Supposedly, the band is preparing to release their fifth album sometime next year.
7.) Gnarls Barkley
Gnarls Barkley is the fusion of singer CeeLo Green with musician and producer Danger Mouse. Their sound is a blend of neo soul and alternative rock, and the duo produced only two albums – St. Elsewhere in 2006 and The Odd Couple in 2008. They saw some success, especially with their song “Crazy” from the first album. In 2010, CeeLo said that the two would be getting back in the studio to work on a third album. Three years later, he still confirmed that the third album would be coming in the future. But nothing has happened since. They found a unique, cool sound and it would be nice to hear them create at least one more project.
Gorillaz is one creatively unique group of individuals – an animated one, at that. Everyone should remember two songs in particular, “Clint Eastwood” and “Feel Good Inc..” They blend trip-hop, hip-hop, electronica, indie, dub, reggae and alternative rock, with a total of four studio albums under their belt. After their fourth, The Fall, in 2011, the future of the band wasn’t really clear. They talked about wanting to make more music, and aside from one song in 2012 to promote their Gorillaz-branded Converse shoes, it didn’t happen. The last update we received was earlier this summer, when frontman Jamie Hewlett said the new album had been delayed and should be released in 2017. We’ll see if that happens.
9.) System of a Down
System of a Down did a lot within the metal genre, infusing elements of thrash, nu metal and speed metal. They are a ridiculously talented group of artists, having produced five albums and sold over 40 million records worldwide. Their last album, the Mezmerize/Hypnotize double album, was released in 2005. We’ve gone a decade without hearing new music from this band, which is a real shame. There’s not a whole lot of loud, thrashing metal that is also commenting on social and political issues, like System of a Down did.
10.) The Hives
This Swedish band has remained a favorite of mine for a while, in fact, ever since their video for “Hate to Say I Told You So” debuted. Their garage rock/punk sound, coupled with their visual aesthetic, made them standout. Yet they started to experiment and step out of that comfort zone a bit with their fourth album The Black and White Album. Some of the contributing producers included Dennis Herring, The Neptunes and Jacknife Lee. Their fifth and last album was Lex Hives in 2012, and we haven’t really heard from them since. A resurgence certainly would be nice.