Today’s New Albums: Gov’t Mule, Courtney Barnett, Amanda Shires, Neal Casal Tribute, Jerry Garcia Band & More

Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by Gov’t Mule, Courtney Barnett, Amanda Shires, an all-start tribute to Neal Casal, Jerry Garcia Band, Joni Mitchell, Damon Albarn, Allen Stone, Nirvana and Rose Ganache. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.


Gov’t Mule – Heavy Load Blues

The Scoop: Gov’t Mule returns with Heavy Load Blues, the band’s first blues album, which is out today via Fantasy Records. Guitarist Warren Haynes, drummer Matt Abts, bassist Jorgen Carlsson and multi-instrumentalist Danny Louis recorded the 13-track effort live on analog tape in the studio at The Power Station New England. Haynes co-produced Mule’s long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s Revolution Come … Revolution Go with John Paterno. Heavy Load Blues includes a mix of Haynes originals and blues classics popularized by the likes of Bobby “Blue” Bland, Howlin’ Wolf, Ann Peebles and Junior Wells. The quartet also offers takes on songs by Tom Waits and The Animals, among others.

“For me, personally, it’s kind of been on my list of things to do for years,” Haynes explained of making a blues record. “I didn’t know if it was gonna be a solo album or a Gov’t Mule record. We play some traditional blues on stage from time to time and although it’s usually never more than a few songs per show, our approach to the blues is unique and based on our collective chemistry as a band.”


Courtney Barnett – Things Take Time, Take Time

The Scoop: Australian singer-songwriter/guitarist Courtney Barnett released her third album, Things Take Time, Take Time, today through Mom+Pop Music/Marathon Artists. The 10 songs on the new LP were written by Barnett before recording the album in Sydney, Northern NSW and Melbourne in late-2020 and early-2021. Barnett recruited “musical kindred-spirit” producer/drummer Stella Mozgawa to work with her on the follow-up to 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel.

“By the end of the Tell Me How You Really Feel cycle, I was a bit down on myself, and exhausted — not exhausted of touring or music, but just of life,” Barnett said. “I was picking Stella’s brain about home recording stuff, asking who I should work with for my next album. I knew I wanted to do something with her, but I was too afraid to ask her … I can get a little bit lost in the studio — if I hit a wall on a song I just go inward and get negative. Whenever there was a wall, Stella would take charge and would try something in a totally different way. I think that was so important for me, and integral to the songs. You can hear the Stella on this album.”


Amanda Shires – For Christmas

The Scoop: Tis the season for Amanda Shires to release her new holiday album, For Christmas, via Silver Knife/Thirty Tigers. The album presents nine new originals written by Shires, alongside an additional two covers, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and “Silent Night.” The Nashville-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist recorded For Christmas at Sound Emporium Studios with Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit’s Jimbo Hart on bass, longtime collaborator Peter Levin on keys, Fred Eltringham (Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams) on drums and Pat Buchanan (Dolly Parton, The Chicks) on guitar. The McCrary Sisters contributed to four tracks, while Lawrence Rothman, who produced For Christmas joined Shires on “Always Christmas Around Here.”

“I’ve always wanted to make a record that’s true to what Christmas is like for me, and all the mixed emotions that come with it,” Shires stated. “There’s the happiness of being with family, and then the reality that getting a bunch of your family members in the same room is maybe never a great idea. I’m one of those hopeless-romantic types, so there’s the romance and beauty of Christmas but also the sadness, especially when not everybody you’re used to having around gets to be there anymore. There’s a lot of nostalgia in these songs, but there’s a lot of reality too.”


Various Artists- Highway Butterfly: The Songs Of Neal Casal

The Scoop: Singer-songwriter Neal Casal, who died by suicide at age 50 in 2019, is honored today with an all-star covers compilation Highway Butterfly: The Songs Of Neal Casal. The project was co-produced by Casal’s longtime collaborators Jim Scott and Widespread Panic/Hard Working Americans bassist Dave Schools. Casal’s friend and longtime manager, Gary Waldman, was also part of bringing together the 130 participating musicians who collectively covered 41 of Casal’s original songs. Among those who covered Casal’s songs for the tribute album include Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Warren Haynes, Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks, Billy Strings, Hiss Golden Messenger, Fruit Bats, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Jonathan Wilson, Vetiver, Shooter Jennings, Marcus King, Eric Krasno, J Mascis, Cass McCombs, Johnathan Rice, Leslie Mendelson, Oteil Burbridge & Duane Trucks, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Tim Bluhm, Mapache, Puss N Boots and The Allman Betts Band, among others, including Casal’s former bandmates in Circles Around the Sun, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Beachwood Sparks, GospelbeacH and others.

Proceeds from the previously announced compilation will benefit the Neal Casal Music Foundation non-profit organization, which supplies musical instruments and lessons in New Jersey and New York state schools where Casal was from. Additional proceeds will go to mental health organizations that support musicians, MusiCares and Backline.Care.


Jerry Garcia Band – GarciaLive Volume 17: NorCal ’76

The Scoop: While the GarciaLive series of Jerry Garcia archival releases usually focuses on full concerts, GarciaLive Volume 17: NorCal ‘76, available today through Round Records, instead presents highlights from a week-long Jerry Garcia Band run in November of 1976. Included within are tracks recorded by acclaimed engineer Betty Cantor-Jackson at Berkeley’s Keystone on November 7, 1976; the University of California in Davis on November 12, 1976 and at Arcata’s Humboldt State University on November 13, 1976 along with a track of unknown origin thought to come from the same time period.

The Jerry Garcia Band lineup at the time featured Garcia along with bassist John Kahn, keyboardist Keith Godchaux, drummer Ron Tutt and vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux. GarciaLive Volume 17: NorCal ‘76 features a diverse collection of songs with standouts including originals “Sugaree” and “They Love Each Other” as well as takes on Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up,” JJ Cale’s “After Midnight,” Allen Toussaint’s “I’ll Take A Melody” and Hank Ballard’s “Tore Up Over You.”


Joni Mitchell – Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971)

The Scoop: Legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell continues her series of archival releases with Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971), out today on Rhino Records. As the title implies, this second installment covers Mitchell’s prolific period between 1968 and 1971. Vol. 2 is sequenced chronologically and follows Mitchell through one of the most creative periods in her career leading up to the release of her outstanding ablum, Blue. Included are outtakes, demos and other previously unheard tracks, as well as the EP, Blue 50, featuring demos and outtakes from Blue. The compilation includes a number of unreleased Mitchell originals including “Jesus” recorded at her friend Jane Lurie’s New York apartment in Chelsea, which was also the setting for “Chelsea Morning.” Archives Vol. 2 also collects live performances such as a March 19, 1968, set at Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa that was recorded by Jimi Hendrix, as well as an October 1970 appearance at Paris Theatre in London — featuring a sit-in from James Taylor. Additionally, the collection contains Mitchell’s February 1, 1969 Carnegie Hall debut and more.


Damon Albarn – The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows

The Scoop: Gorillaz and Blur frontman Damon Albarn today released The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows, his first solo album since 2014’s Everyday Robots. Albarn was inspired to create the 11-track LP by the landscapes he saw during a trip to Iceland. Originally conceived as a symphonic piece, Albarn used time locked down toward the beginning of the pandemic to expand the material with lyrics addressing a number of personal themes. Albarn serves as a storyteller on the new Transgressive Records release and he took the title from a line in John Clare’s “Love And Memory” poem.

“I have been on my own dark journey while making this record and it led me to believe that a pure source might still exist,” Albarn said in a statement.


Allen Stone – Apart

The Scoop: Soul musician Allen Stone went acoustic for his latest LP, Apart, which arrived today on ATO Records. The album consists of 11 reimiagined songs from Stone’s previous releases as well as a cover of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love.” Recorded in Stone’s home state of Washington at Bear Creek Studios, the new LP was produced by Ryan Hadlock. Apart presents new versions of songs from 2011’s Allen Stone, 2015’s Radius and his most recent LP, 2019’s Building The Balance. The new release also features a duet with singer-songwriter Alessia Cara on “Bed I Made,” from the Radius deluxe edition.

“This album was a way to pay homage to the songs that have been my foundational support for the last decade,” Stone said. “And to also pay homage to all the people who’ve loved these songs over the years … The songs I love most pretty much always start out with just me and a piano or a guitar. But then when you go to record, you end up putting all this production behind them — you’re taking the original structure and adding shingles and paint and fancy windows, and eventually, you can’t see the floorboards anymore. I’ve always wanted to see if I could pull it off to put something down on wax that’s just my voice and an instrument and really nothing else.”


Nirvana – Nevermind 30th Anniversary

The Scoop: Here we are now, three decades later, for the 30th anniversary reissue of Nirvana’s semenial 1991 album, Nevermind. Available in a variety of formats and configurations, a total of 94 audio and video tracks — 70 of where were previously unreleased — make up today’s massive reissue. Along with a new version of Nevermind remastered from the original half-inch stereo analog tapes to high-resolution 192kHz 24-bit, are four previously unreleased recordings of Nirvana live in concert. The live shows were recorded November 25, 1991 at in Amsterdam, Netherlands at Paradiso; on December 28, 1991 at the Pat O’Brien Pavilion at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, California; February 1, 1992 at The Palace in St. Kilda in Melbourne, Australia; and on February 19, 1992 at the Nakano Sunplaza in Tokyo, Japan.


Rose Ganache – Madness From Two

The Scoop: Rose Ganache, the duo of vocalist/guitarist MeShell Wolf and guitarist James Coburn, today unveiled their first studio album, the EP Madness From Two. The collection of seven songs finds the pair joined by the Umphrey’s McGee rhythm section of drummer Kris Myers and bassist Ryan Stasik. Wolf and Coburn worked hand-in-hand on Madness From Two with Executive Producer Marc Brownstein of the Disco Biscuits and music industry icons Ray Bardani and Tip Wyman of Wyman Records. The Charleston-based duo recorded the EP at Wyman Records in Los Angeles.

“The entire experience has been an exciting, thrilling ride for the both of us,” Wolf and Coburn noted. “As songwriters and modest local musicians, working side by side with some of the country’s most respected and experienced is incredibly thrilling.”


Compiled by Scott Bernstein and Andy Kahn.