Friday, May 22, 2009

The creative arts

Ever since there became such a thing as an Album Artist round about the early 1970s, we've known how the drill works. Release an album, tour it all over the world for 12-18 months, have three months' recuperation, start writing, record, find upon release that your audience has moved on. An album every other year was fine.

Some souls, of course, need longer. From our top 20 albums of 2006 six follow-ups have yet to surface. (For the record: Final Fantasy, Scritti Politti, Cat Power, the Pipettes, The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Mission Of Burma. Two were talking about releasing albums last year, two have been in the studio for ages, one has said they almost have an album's worth of songs ready to work on and one... well, who knows what Green Gartside is ever up to) In fact, from our 2005 list two haven't properly resurfaced yet, Mew doing so in August, Sufjan news expected shortly-ish.

But something interesting is happening now. Let's run through last year's top ten's current plans:

The Wave Pictures: just released a fine acoustic follow-up with, according to our interview with Dave Tattersall, the probability of a proper electric LP later in the year
The Acorn: still building up UK steam for Glory Hope Mountain but have since that came out issued two EPs for free
Why?: new album in October, London and Brighton dates in July announced today
Okkervil River: still touring into July
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: new Grinderman talked about for this year
Wild Beasts: planning to release second album within a year of their first
Elbow: still high on the Mercury hog
Johnny Foreigner: have recently been in the studio in NYC
Los Campesinos!: having already released a second album further record, have recently been in the studio in Connecticut
TV On The Radio: Tunde Adebimpe making a joint album with Mike Patton and Doseone

So what's causing this sudden burst of proactive creativity? Well, we're in the broadband age, which means you can't step off the gas for a second without losing your place in the Hype Machine charts, but that's not always been a spur to creativity in itself. Maybe it's more the availability of rehearsal time and live slogging, meaning more time to perfect the art. Or maybe young bands are more and more reluctant to keep to the strict album-tour-album cycle. Any further ideas?

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