WHAT IS THIS LIST FOR?
Consider this a “parking lot” for artists I’ve heard little to no credible news about in terms of an upcoming album, but would still like to keep an eye on just in case they resurface with something tangible that I would have otherwise missed. If an artist announces an actual, or at least tentative, release date for an album, I’ll move them from this list to the current year’s Music Journal. Otherwise, all I have to go on is the speculation I’ve managed to cobble together from infrequent bits of news and hearsay regarding each artist’s recent activity.
Last Release: Thief EP, 2013
Last Sighting: The aforementioned EP
My Speculation: Thief was an amazing comeback, but I don’t know if it was enough to get her a foot in the door in either Christian music or the country/indie folk/Americana world. She may resurface with new music sporadically, but considering the decade-plus gap between Thief and her last true album, this probably shouldn’t be expected any time soon.
Last Release: Hymns of Christmas (with Jennifer Knapp), 2012
Last Sighting: Singing background vocals on Jennifer Knapp’s 2017 album Love Comes Back Around.
My Speculation: 2007’s Air was her last true studio album; since then she’s mostly appeared on collaborative worship projects, compilations, and so forth. I’m gonna guess that she’s transitioned from the “active recording artist” phase of her career into more of a songwriter/speaker/studio player phase where she’s mostly giving speaking engagements or assisting on other people’s recordings (most notably Jennifer Knapp – it seems like the two women’s careers have been intertwined for quite some time now).
Last Release: With Shivering Hearts We Wait, 2011
Last Sighting: Their last album
My Speculation: There had been a 4-year gap between the Black Rose EP in 2007 and With Shivering Hearts We Wait, which was in line with their last few releases in that it had a much lower profile label-wise. I’m assuming that the cost outweighed the benefit in terms of the effort it took them to continue recording and distributing albums. Still, there’s been no news of a definitive breakup, so there may be faint hope for an eventual follow-up.
Last Release: Raising Up the Dead, 2010
Last Sighting: For a while they were releasing standalone songs via Brite Revolution on a monthly basis, but according to Wikipedia, they’ve been largely inactive since the tour for Raising Up the Dead. Derek Webb is still active as a solo artist.
My Speculation: Family responsibilities, Derek Webb and Andy Osenga’s solo projects, living apart from each other, and not being on a label probably conspired to make it worth laying low for a while. I’m willing to bet one day they’ll get some configuration of the band back together for old times’ sake, but probably not on a permanent basis.
COURT YARD HOUNDS
Last Release: Amelita, 2013
Last Sighting: Well, obviously they’re two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks, who haven’t recorded an album together in over ten years but who are still very actively touring.
My Speculation: It’s downright weird to me that the Dixie Chicks are playing such high-profile shows together with no real promise of any new studio music. Whether Martie and Emily find time to record anything new apart from Natalie (who also released a solo album in 2013) probably depends on how much time the touring takes up. My guess is at some point the Dixie Chicks will go dormant again and Court Yard Hounds will put out another comparatively lower-profile release, or else Dixie Chicks will resume as a recording entity and thus Court Yard Hounds won’t be necessary as a creative outlet for the Erwin sisters.
Last Release: Solo EP, 2001
Last Sighting: The infamous cruise that the band hosted in 2017. The lead-up to it led many fans to incorrectly speculate that they were about to drop news of a reunion album and/or tour. They’ve hinted at possibly doing more reunion shows after the cruise ended, but there’s been no news of the group actively recording new music together. Tobymac and Kevin Max have ongoing solo careers, while Michael Tait is still the lead singer for Newsboys. Occasionally one of them will guest on another’s song, but they haven’t recorded a new song specifically billed as “dc Talk” in a very long time.
My Speculation: Honestly, I think these three guys have evolved into such different musicians, all with their own sensibilities, to the point where it’s going to be hard for them to work together productively in the studio. Those seams were already starting to show when they made Supernatural in the late 90s (which is one of my absolute favorite albums of the 90s, just not one where the creative process went particularly smoothly for the group, as far as I can tell – there was even talk of Kevin Max leaving the group for a while there up until they decided dc Talk was “not breaking up, but taking a break”). They all still seem to like each other and want to play shows together, but with the possible exception of Kevin Max’s much lower profile as a solo artist, none of them seems to have the career or financial incentive to take enough time off from their current gig to devote time to a new dc Talk studio album. And I’m not sure the results would be very good even if they did.
Last Release: Deas Vail, and also a Christmas EP For Shepherds & Kings, both in 2011.
Last Sighting: The above 2011 releases. Also, Wes Blaylock released a solo album in 2012 that I never got around to listening to.
My Speculation: Their website has been replaced by an advertisement for nutrition supplements, and their Facebook page only sporadically posts updates concerning individual members playing solo or supporting gigs. Put a fork in these guys. They’re done.
Last Release: DeVotchKa Live with the Colorado Symphony, 2012
Last Sighting: Nick Urata collaborated with Calexico on a track from their album Edge of the Sun in 2015.
My Speculation: I honestly have no idea. They seemed to be releasing material pretty steadily up until I got into them in 2011 when they put out 100 Lovers. Since then, they seem to be dead in the water.
THE ECHOING GREEN
Last Release: In Scarlet and Vile, 2011
Last Sighting: Their last album
My Speculation: This may be another group that only pops up once in a blue moon with a new single or EP. I don’t hold out much hope for any more albums from them these days. I was quite surprised to find out a good year after the fact that In Scarlet and Vile even existed, since it had been nearly a decade before that point since they last released a full-fledged album. So that may be a harbinger of (a lack of) things to come.
FIVE O’CLOCK PEOPLE
Last Release: Temper Temper, 2008
Last Sighting: Their last “album” (it was really more of an EP)
My Speculation: Temper Temper was a fluke to begin with; I had honestly thought the band had broken up long before that due to Alex Walker going into some sort of a self-imposed exile and the other members scattering to the wind not long after their touring cycle for The Nothing Venture was over. This group is so obscure that they don’t even have a Wikipedia page, nor are they on Spotify, so if they or any of their individual members have done anything since 2008, I don’t even know how I’d manage to dig up this information. A quick Google search only brings up scattered references to where their old albums can be purchased, and a few articles/fan pages that have been gathering dust since 2008.
Last Release: Blonde, 2014
Last Sighting: Their last album
My Speculation: No idea. These guys didn’t have a terribly high profile to begin with, but their only album so far was a fun exercise in 80s synthpop revival, and I wouldn’t mind another helping.
Last Release: Making Mirrors, 2011
Last Sighting: He curated some sort of an art exhibit in 2013, and more recently he’s been working to preserve the legacy of a favorite electronic musician of his, even going so far as to start a label dedicated to this.
My Speculation: It’s really weird for an artist who had as high of a pop culture profile as Gotye did back when “Somebody that I Used to Know” was near-ubiquitous on the charts to not follow up on that momentum. A long gestation period for a new album would sort of make sense, given the enormous pressure that sort of breakout success tends to put on an artist. But to see no evidence at all that he’s been working on new music of his own in recent years is just plain odd.
Last Release: They Reappear, 2011
Last Sighting: He’s recorded an album and EP as a member of Sucré in 2012 and 2014, and he’s been doing production work for a wide variety of artists over the years, which is his main gig.
My Speculation: Since Jeremy seemed to put out a new solo project every few years up until I first listened to him on They Reappear, I assumed this trend would continue. Now I’m not so sure. With Stacy King having left Eisley and Darren King rather abruptly departing from MuteMath, the timing sure would be good for a new Sucré project, I guess.
Last Release: “Animals Pt. 1” single, 2011; their only true album (if you don’t count their earlier incarnation as The Rock & Roll Worship Circus) was The Listening LP in 2006.
Last Sighting: Wikipedia says Gabriel Wilson has been working as a worship leader for a church in Redding, California. He’s also released material as a solo artist. The other members have pretty much been scattered to the wind. At one point they announced an upcoming project called LMNOP, but there’s been no news of this in ages. All of this information could be years out of date, for all I know.
My Speculation: This band vanished under rather mysterious circumstances. Their website domain is for sale. It’s probably not worth holding out any hope for these guys.
Last Release: “Our Love Is a Painted Picture” single in 2017; their last “albums” were the trio of EPs (m)orning, (a)fternoon, and (e)vening, that they put out pre-hiatus in 2009/2010.
Last Sighting: The group is back together after a year-long hiatus, and actively touring.
My Speculation: The ratio of hype to actual output has been rather disproportional since these guys reunited. One new single and a set of remasters/vinyl versions of their old albums sends a bit of a mixed message where their status as an active band is concerned. I’m hoping that the single will eventually give way to a new album, but they’ve said nothing clearly indicating this as far as I can tell.
Last Release: A trio of EPs in 2007; The DreamLife of Angels in 2001 was her last studio album.
Last Sighting: A few duet/backing vocals on Jon Foreman’s Spring and Summer EPs in 2008.
My Speculation: Sarah is married to a writer, and writing may also be her main gig now. I feel like I’ve seen the occasional column written by her on websites such as Relevant or Christianity Today over the years. Being the sister-in-law of Switchfoot’s lead singer certainly leaves the door open for her musical talents to be tapped for another guest appearance, but I don’t expect new solo material from her any time soon.
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND
Last Release: Away From the World, 2012
Last Sighting: Their 25th anniversary tour in 2016. They took 2017 off as a full band, but Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds have been touring together as an acoustic duo.
My Speculation: They’ve been debuting new songs on their more recent tours, as they often do when an album is in the works, though the band has so many non-album tracks floating around that morph and change over the course of their tours that I can’t definitively construe this as a sign that a new studio album is in the works. At this point, I could easily see the band transitioning to a “legacy” status where they tour and play fan favorites and deep cuts from throughout their discography, without the pressure to highlight a new album along with the myriad of songs their old fans are always clamoring to hear. This group really made a name for itself as a live band, to the point where new studio albums are almost an afterthought. They could easily survive on touring alone, without needing fresh studio material to draw in new listeners.
Last Release: Strangers to Ourselves, 2015
Last Sighting: Their last album and subsequent tour
My Speculation: Normally a band who last released a studio album within the last few years wouldn’t be on this list; however, that album followed an 8-year gap since their previous one, and they hinted at a follow-up to Strangers, largely recorded during the same studio sessions, to come as soon as 2016, which never materialized. Whether this or anything else is actively in the works is a total mystery to me.
MY MORNING JACKET
Last Release: The Waterfall, 2015
Last Sighting: Jim James released a solo album, Eternally Even, in 2016.
My Speculation: MMJ is on this list for the exact same reason as Modest Mouse. Their recording sessions for The Waterfall were supposedly fruitful enough to yield almost two whole album’s worth of material, and they suggested that the follow-up album was just around the corner. But I’ve seen no evidence that this is still being worked on.
Last Release: Push and Shove, 2012
Last Sighting: Well, duh. Gwen Stefani is still a household name, as a solo artist and as a judge on The Voice.
My Speculation: Stefani mentioned the possibility of new No Doubt material to follow up on Push and Shove a few years back, but since then, she seems to have walked back her comments and even suggested that the band wasn’t in the right space to really function as a band when recording Push and Shove. I agree that they shouldn’t force it if they’re not feeling it, but the band hasn’t officially broken up, either.
Last Release: Lightning Bolt, 2013
Last Sighting: They’ve been touring pretty consistently over the last few years, and have a new live album coming out soon.
My Speculation: Four years isn’t an unreasonable gap between albums in Pearl Jam time. But to not even have definite news of a new album being in the works at this point is a bit weird. They’re a strong enough touring band that it’s remotely possible they could go the same route I suggested the Dave Matthews Band going, and devote themselves more to touring than to recording. They certainly have the a built-in fanbase who appreciates their willingness to change up their setlists and throw in tons of odd and ends instead of just focusing on hits and new material. They could make it work. But Lightning Bolt was a personal favorite of mine, and I’d love to hear them continue to experiment with their sound on new records in the years to come.
THE RIVER EMPIRES
Last Release: The River Empires – Epilogue, 2010
Last Sighting: Jessy Ribordy’s main gig, Falling Up, reunited from 2011-2015. Casey Crescenzo is still active as a member of The Dear Hunter.
My Speculation: This is one of those side projects that started off with great ambitions, but not enough of an audience to see it through. Epilogue was meant to be the end of a story that would be told in reverse over the course of seven albums. At one point there was even talk of it being tied into a TV series! Unfortunately the Kickstarter for their second (sixth?) album was unsuccessful, and not long after that, Falling Up got back together. I’m still unclear on whether The River Empires is permanently dead or just dormant, especially now that Falling Up has called it quits again. Knowing Jessy and Casey, some ideas for how to finish the story are still floating around in their heads somewhere, and they just lack the time/funds/fan enthusiasm/ability to coordinate their schedules to see the rest of it through. I’d love to see it happen, though. Epilogue was such a unique and immersive experience, and I still return to it pretty regularly all these years later.
Last Release: “Óveður” single, 2016. Their last album was Kveikur in 2013.
Last Sighting: They’ve been touring pretty extensively, and playing new songs at those gigs.
My Speculation: Sigur Rós is known for taking their time between albums, to the point where the quick turnaround between Valtari and Kveikur was a real surprise. Still, it’s weird for a single to show up by its lonesome with no concrete news of the new album it’s supposedly going to be part of for over a year afterwards. At some point I’m pretty sure that new album will appear. Whether “Óveður” will be part of it – or in any way indicative of that record’s sound – is a complete mystery to me.
Last Release: No One in Control, 2013
Last Sighting: Their last album
My Speculation: Despite a brief bump thanks to name confusion with Edward Snowden around the release of their last album, it doesn’t seem to have given the band any long-term momentum. I wouldn’t be surprised if they disbanded and one or more members started recording under an entirely different name.
Last Release: The stage musical The Fourth Messenger in 2015
Last Sighting: The aforementioned musical
My Speculation: She’s scaled back her recording and touring schedule since moving to Detroit for grad school, so longer gaps between albums are to be anticipated. I would sure love a proper follow-up to 2013’s Aims – it’s been over four years now, which was about the length of time from Inland Territory until that album.
Last Release: Christmas Is Here, 2007
Last Sighting: A few compilations and guest appearances since then. Nothing since 2009 as far as I can tell.
My Speculation: She’s probably gone the Margaret Becker route, where she may well still be writing songs, perhaps even singing backup as a day player on other people’s recordings, just not doing anything active as a solo artist in her own right.
Last Release: The single “Name” in 2010. Their last album was Wonderfully Made in 2001.
Last Sighting: “Name” was announced as the lead single from a new album called Mysteriet, which thus far has failed to materialize. The band has given updates as recently as 2016 suggesting it’s still being worked on.
My Speculation: Honestly, the last time I really cared about anything this band recorded was in the late 90s, so they wouldn’t even be on my radar any more if not for the promise that their new material was aiming to recapture the mood of their classic song “Hands in the Air”, which is definitely my favorite thing they’ve ever done. Their more pop-oriented stuff hasn’t really done it for me outside of the occasional superficially catchy song. So I won’t exactly be devastated if their new album never gets completed, but if it does, I’ll definitely be expecting more than just a thinly veiled attempt to re-assert themselves into the contemporary Christian pop music landscape and make some quick cash off of my generation’s nostalgia.
Last Update: 11/28/17